It’s a Rambling Blog Post…

It has been a little over a month since I sat down to bang away at the keyboard with another rambling blog post…I haven’t done that too many times in 2014: I don’t know about you, but this past year has been rather busy with family and work, but it sure did go by fast.  It’s hard to believe 2015 will be here in less than two weeks!  I hope each of you have a great (and safe) Christmas, New Year, and holiday!

I really have no set agenda for this post: sure, there are a few things I want to pass on, but as I start you never really know what might pass my self-(un)regulated censor and make it to the keyboard…however, looking over the finished product it is a little longer than usual so you may need to strap yourself in first!

 

Website Redesign

For those of you who regularly read the blog’s posts on the website, most of the following is not new to you.  Last month, I launched a re-do / new skin to the blog’s website because the old one ad become a little stale and needed a refresh.  The idea with the new redesign was to keep it simple, fresh, and appear “lighter” on the screen vs. the darker colors of the previous site; I also wanted a new logo.

Yesterday, the last step in the process was launched – the old domain name has been retired and the blog’s website can now be found at www.fkbt.com: it’s a lot easier to type out, communicate with to people, and most people referred to the blog as “fkbt” anyway.  With this last change, I hope more people will find it and those who tried to type out the long previous domain name and gave up because they typed it in wrong will now be “found.”

If you had previously bookmarked some of the Kindle tips or links to sites offering free Kindle books don’t worry – the old links will automatically redirect to the fkbt.com extension.

If you didn’t take a look at the redesigned website after I announced it last month, I encourage you to do so and maybe tell a friend or two: you can take a look if you click here or type in www.fkbt.com into your web browser.

Looking at the home page, the Featured Book of the Day is more prominent and we also shortened the amount of text on the home page.  On the previous design, it was a typical WordPress layout (that’s the name of the blog’s software) with row after row of text which included every word of the last 5 posts; now, you have the title of the post and an option to click and read more vs. having to slog through everything.  If you do click the “Read full post” option, the look and feel is brighter and easier to read (at least it is to my tired eyes).

There’s also more emphasis on the site for people to sign up for the free once-a-day email delivery option, download the free blog reader app, an improved section for people to leave comments if they so desire, and the social media sharing buttons aren’t as large and obnoxious as they were on the previous design.  I also had the Google banner ads removed as they were taking away from the user experience, made the pages load slow, and I really didn’t like seeing them nor not being in control of what was displayed.

There were also several things done on the back end to make the pages load faster and put less stress on the server, and I’m certain things will continue to be tweaked as we review what seems to work and what could be improved.

Please let me know what you think – you can shoot me an email to Michael at fkbt dot com (I type I tout that way in a small effort to thwart the professional spammers).

 

Kindle Unlimited Offers

Over the last couple of days, I’ve added a line indicating if a particular book participates in the Kindle Unlimited program with a simple “yes” or “no.”  Unless you are already a member of the program, I’ve found out from your emails many of you really aren’t aware of what it is.

You can find out all of the details on the Amazon website if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/kuprogram into your web browser, but let me try to outline the main benefits – for $9.99 per month, and the first month is a free trial, you can:

Borrow Kindle books for free, similar to a library, and read away to your heart’s content.  Right now, there are over 700,000 titles participating in the program.  There are limits on the number of books you can have checked out at one time, but voracious readers are having a field day – and saving a lot of money – by borrowing the books vs. paying for them.

Listen to several hundred thousand audible books for free from Audible, similar to the borrowing arrangement mentioned above for Kindle books.

You don’t need a Kindle or Fire to participate in the program.  You can read and / or listen to the books on your other devices with the free Kindle app or on your computer.

I’m sure there is something I missed, so if you are interested in trying it out for free please click on the link above and I’ll bet most of your questions will be answered.  If you do participate in the program, please look for the “Yes” or “No” indication on the book offers – that might sway your decision in trying out a new author as the cost will be free vs. paying for it.

 

Kindle Daily Deal and Free App of the Day

It has been a while since I’ve posted about the Kindle Daily Deal as well as the free App of the Day that can be used on your Fire or any Android-enabled device.  Why?  A couple of reasons –

The Kindle Daily Deal hasn’t been the deal it used to be when it all started out a few years ago.  For the first year or so of the Kindle Daily Deal, the books were generally all marked down to 99 cents for one day only.  Now, it’s kind of hit or miss – mainly miss, in my opinion, as the ones I always see are priced much higher and they generally aren’t things I’ve been too interested in.  I grab one every now and then, but it has been a while.  They are having a big push right now with lots of books in the deal, so maybe there’s something you would like.  You can check those out at any time if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/dailydeal into your web browser; you may want to bookmark this link so you can check out future deals.

I’ve been fairly disappointed in the free app of the day.  Upon launch of Amazon’s app store, there would be many really neat, useful, and expensive apps offered for free; now, it seems to be a lot of cheaply-made games I’m not interested in trying out let alone download.  I know that sounds like an entitlement-bound whiner, as free is always good, but to me it’s not worth the excitement it used to be, plus I’m seeing a lot of repeats of apps.  Despite my comments on the free app of the day, it’s worth popping in every once in a while just to make sure you’re not missing anything.  You can evaluate them for yourself if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/appstore into your web browser; you may want to bookmark this link, also, so you can check out future free apps.

 

Supporting the Blog

While the Kindle Unlimited discussion is fresh on my mind, I also want to make sure you’re supporting the independent author!  Sure, download the free Kindle book offers but I’d also appreciate it (as would the authors) if you continue to buy a book every now and then – I don’t think 99 cents will break you!

Here’s how the math works for books priced at 99 cents: Amazon takes 69 cents and the author gets 30 cents.  That’s not much in the grand scheme of things for something that can give you a couple of hours of entertainment.  The blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, but they also have restrictions in place for websites like this one that limit how many free Kindle books can be downloaded for any month.  Every little bit helps!

Also, if you’re going to shop on Amazon I’d really appreciate it if you would help the blog out by clicking here or typing in http://smarturl.it/fkbtblog, and bookmarking that link before you go shopping in the future as it will help pay for the blog’s server costs!  Before I forget, Amazon sent me a note this morning (and probably to most of you, also) saying if you place your order by Monday the 22nd, they can ensure two-day delivery by Christmas Eve.

 

Looking Ahead

What will 2015 have in store for the blog?  Before we get out of 2014, please note there’s going to be an extra emphasis on the free Kindle book offers starting Monday through the rest of the year!  I imagine 2015 will have its opportunities and challenges, and we’ll all have a little bit of fun on the way.  Here’s to a prosperous New Year!

I appreciate each of you and your support of the blog and my family over the years!

Best regards,

Michael Gallagher

 

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Just a Quick Update

Howdy!

This is just a quick note to pass on a few things – welcome to the first day of December!  Here in the USA, the Thanksgiving holiday just didn’t seem to last long enough: I don’t know about you, but 2014 seemed to roll on by rather quickly…

Amazon Cyber Monday Deals

I’ll be upfront and admit I did go to one store on Friday of last week, but I certainly didn’t camp out nor did I set the alarm early to attempt to snag an alleged deal.  I also did some shopping on the Amazon website and grabbed a couple of items I had been wanting that were more than 50% off of the regular price and also received free shipping: that is a heck of a lot better than standing in line somewhere and getting mad at line cutters and pushy people!

What will Cyber Monday bring?  I don’t know, but I’d be willing to bet Amazon is going to pull out all the stops this month, especially since their last two quarters’ earnings calls were disappointing to the analysts (and their stock price was pounded as a result).  I’m planning on looking at the Cyber Monday deals on Amazon throughout the day, and hitting the refresh button on my web browser.

You can check out the deals today, also, and maybe you will grab something you’ve been wanting for yourself or for someone for Christmas.  You can check them out today if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/amazonmonday into your web browser – be sure to keep hitting the refresh button!

And don’t just think the Cyber Monday deal is for electronics, toys, clothes, and such as it’s also the biggest Kindle book deal of the year: over 2,000 titles are over 80% off of the regular price.  I’m not talking about titles from authors you’ve never heard of as I see a few titles from people like Pat Conroy.  You can check out the Kindle book deals if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/dailydeal into your web browser.

Kindle Voyage Giveaway

I’ve been using my Voyage for a couple of months now and I have been enjoying it.  If you are unfamiliar with the Voyage, it’s a lot like the Paperwhite and really should have been labeled as such: you can read the review I wrote for it if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/14voyage into your web browser; if you think the review was helpful, I would appreciate a “Yes” vote just underneath the review on the Amazon website.

Today is the last day to enter to win the giveaway for the new Kindle Voyage e-Reader: have you signed up for a chance to win yet?  You can if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/1214kv into your web browser.  Don’t procrastinate – click the link right now before you forget!

If you’re looking for an extra chance to win, here’s a hint: in addition to the email address you may (or may not) have used to sign up, if you have a second email address there is nothing to stop you from using that one as well.  Unlike the other giveaways, signing up for the email option is not mandatory, as you can also enter via Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Also, I’m certain your friends, family, and co-workers would like a chance to win, also, so why not pass this information / link on to them?

 

That’s all I had for this post – I hope each of you has a great rest of 2014!

Michael

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Black Friday is officially tomorrow here in the USA – someone forgot to tell the retailers, or the majority of them colluded to start the deals today on Thanksgiving (although I am sure they will have a heck of a lot of them tomorrow).

That also includes Amazon, as they have really started rolling out the deals.  Get your Christmas shopping done from the comfort of home, and avoid the long lines at the stores in your area.  You can check out the Amazon deals if you click here or type http://smarturl.it/amazonbfriday into your web browser.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be thankful for and I appreciate each of you – I hope all of you have a great day today, don’t eat so much that you get uncomfortable, and hopefully you get to spend it with your friends and family!  As for me, I’m with my family smelling the turkey cooking away…

Michael

 

 

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A Rambling Blog Post

It’s been a while since I’ve just sat down and started banging away on the keyboard: it’s been a little busy here at the Gallagher household between work, chasing kids from one activity to the next, and life in general – that sounds about “normal” for most people’s lives these days!  There are a couple of things I wanted to pass on to you…

 

Website Redesign

If you haven’t stopped by the blog lately, we launched a new design of the website last week.  You can see it for yourself if you click here or go to www.fkbooksandtips.com

So, what changed?

The previous look and feel had become a little stale and needed a refresh.  The idea with the new redesign was to keep it simple, fresh, and appear “lighter” on the screen vs. the darker colors of the previous site; I also wanted a new logo.  Hopefully, that goal was accomplished!

If you look at the home page, the Featured Book of the Day is more prominent and we also shortened the amount of text on the home page.  On the previous design, it was a typical WordPress layout (that’s the name of the blog’s software) with row after row of text which included every word of the last 5 posts; now, you have the title of the post and an option to click and read more vs. having to slog through everything.  If you do click the “Read full post” option, the look and feel is brighter and easier to read (at least it is to my tired eyes).

We’re also putting more emphasis on the site for people to sign up for the free once-a-day email delivery option, download the free blog reader app, an improved section for people to leave comments if they so desire, and the social media sharing buttons aren’t as large and obnoxious as they were on the previous design.  I also had the Google banner ads removed as they were taking away from the user experience, made the pages load slow, and I really didn’t like seeing them nor not being in control of what was displayed.

There were also several things done on the back end to make the pages load faster and put less stress on the server, and I’m certain things will continue to be tweaked as we review what seems to work and what could be improved.  I also have a few more enhancements on the drawing board that will be implemented over the next few weeks.  I’m interested to know what you think, so please shoot me an email with your thoughts and comments.

 

Upcoming Giveaways

In order to promote the changes to the website and to get more user participation, I’ll be starting a series of giveaways soon – make sure you are watching the blog’s posts and feel free to tell your friends about them in addition to your signing up for them, also!

 

Black Friday Deals

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving here in the USA, but someone forgot to tell Amazon: I was looking around their website this morning and stumbled across a “Pre” Black Friday deal on some tools, which then led me to the main Black Friday page: there’s a lot of neat stuff in a variety of categories on sale (electronics, tools, books, you name it) and I had to practice great restraint.  You can check out the deals if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/amazonbfriday into your web browser.

 

Baseball

At the start of and conclusion of the World Series, many of you wrote to me to rub it in and ask what happened to the Rangers after my thoughts and comments over the years?  Well, hmm…at least they will be high in the draft pick process, and look out if people can recover from injuries and if they get some pitching, better hitters and fielders, good weather, and the Grace of God…..it may be a long decade!

That’s all I had for now – I hope each of you have a great weekend!

Michael

 

 

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Book Reviews – Why I Write Them

As A Blog Publisher, Why Do You Write Book Reviews?

That’s actually a nicer way of summarizing some of the emails I’ve received over the last few years!

Yes, I do write reviews for the books I read, and starting in 2011 I started to make a point to write a review for most things I read.

Why do I write reviews? Well, I do read what others write for reviews, and those reviews do influence my decision to (a) first try out the free Kindle sample, which a lot of the time leads me to (b) purchasing a book.  I appreciate the time and effort complete strangers took to write a review to tell me the good and the bad, and common courtesy tells me I should do the same.  If I liked it, I’ll tell you – if I didn’t like it, well, let’s just say I’ve been told my professional career has been limited a time or two for being too honest (i.e., blunt).

If you’re like me, you look at the customer reviews in order to see if you want to investigate a book further – while my general cutoff is a book needs to be at least a 4 out of 5 stars, I also read the text of the review: things that may make a reviewer dislike a book might be favorable to me and, things a reviewer absolutely loved (and mentioned in the review) could be a complete turnoff to this grey-haired guy.

I also look to see if a review on the Amazon website is from an “Amazon Verified Purchase,” which tells me the person writing the review actually purchased the item from Amazon; if the reviewer purchased the item from the Amazon website, and didn’t “uncheck” the box to label it as an Amazon Verified Purchase, you will see that notification just below the title of the review and right above the main text of the review.

Why do I look for an Amazon Verified Purchase?  I’ve been burned too many times by friends and family of the author, or shill, reviews – ones that immediately rate things a five star, only have about one sentence of commentary, and are generally marked by it being the one and only review a person has ever written on the Amazon website; these are typically reviews done in order to inflate a book’s overall rating.  Another good indicator is a book will have a flurry of reviews around the same day, are short and all five stars, and the reviewers are from the same general location in the USA.

If you’ve read as many reviews on the Amazon website like I have over the years while looking for books to promote on the blog, you learn to spot the friends and family reviews pretty quick.

The “star” rating on Amazon can be broken down like this:

5 stars – I love it
4 stars – I like it
3 stars – it’s ok
2 stars – I don’t like it
1 star – I hate it

As far as the reviews I write, I try to write an honest assessment if I liked something or not without providing a spoiler: why write a spoiler and ruin the ending for everyone?.  I also think your and my taste regarding the likes and dislikes of a particular book are more honest than a paid book reviewer a major publishing house contracts with to have in a book’s advertising materials. My motto is to keep it short and sweet on your likes and dislikes without providing a Cliff’s Notes version of the book.

There are also very few things I “love” in terms of reading as well as very few things I “hate” as both, to me, are very extreme ends of the spectrum.  Not to sound too hokey, but love and hate are permanent things and very few things qualify for either emotion.

Some people think I shouldn’t be writing reviews because I have this blog, and due to the blog’s popularity it could influence people’s behavior, especially if I “give” it a bad rating – every once in a while I will have a rather interesting dialogue with a few folks regarding the same; remind me to tell you over a beer sometime about how bestselling author Joseph Finder had a public forum / social media temper tantrum on a short story I thought was pretty bad. My response to those type of comments is my – and anyone else’s – review of a book reflects my opinion only and I don’t “give” out anything: your opinion on a book or item may vary, and we probably won’t agree on everything. For example, something I really liked you may absolutely detest and puke all over it.

The same could be true for something you thought was outstanding and I may question why it was published in the first place. When I read reviews I don’t put that much weight into the “star” rating, but I look at the comments, mainly to see if they are substantive to back up the rating as well as to see what the reviewer’s pluses and minuses are with the book.  If you look at those written comments, sometimes they match up to the “star” rating and sometime they do not.

I also discount reviewers who rate everything a 5 star, and I imagine most others do, too.

If you would like to read the reviews I have written, you can click here or type in http://smarturl.it/mgreviews into your web browser.  As I type this post, I have 19 books I need to review but you will see just about everything I’ve read over the last four years – you’ll see I do read a lot of the free book offers, and you’ll also see I have been on a science fiction and thriller kick for a while.

You can vote on the individual reviews on the Amazon website if you think they were helpful or not with a simple “Yes” or “No” vote – you can click on those voting options immediately below the text of each review.  The more “Yes” votes you get in proportion to the overall votes – as well as some super-secret factors Amazon won’t divulge – you will move up in the review ranking scale (yes, Amazon ranks the reviewers).  Right now, the #1 Amazon reviewer is Ali Julia: she has held that position for quite some time now and has written 2,620 reviews (about 1,000 of them over the past year), has received 20,272 “Yes” votes for the reviews’ helpfulness, and has 27 people following her reviews.

So, yes, I will continue writing reviews and I hope you will do the same!  After all, if you can’t share your opinion on a blog what else can you do?

Anyway, that’s all I can type about for now. Have a great rest of your week!

Michael

 

 

 

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Amazon Announces New Kindles!

In case you missed it, Amazon had a lot of press releases today announcing the new version of e-Ink Kindles and Kindle Fires.  Most of them look pretty good (more on that a little bit later) and, rather than try to explain all of the new whistles and bells to you I’m going to give you a link so you can check them out for yourself – besides, there’s a heck of a lot of new information for each one of them out there, and I would probably miss some of the more relevant details!

Yes, I’ve ordered a couple of them to play with and I will be posting a review of my experiences once they arrive.

If you’ve been thinking about ordering a Kindle or Kindle Fire for Christmas for yourself or someone, I would recommend ordering them now as the past couple of years they went out of stock prior to Christmas!

 

Kindle Fire HD

Amazon is coming out with two new versions of the “regular” Kindle Fire – a 7” version (which is the same as the old) and a new 6” version.  The impressive thing is they have reduced the price for the base models to just $99 for the 6” version and $139 for the new 7” version.  Each of these has all sorts of new whistles and bells such as faster processors, front and rear facing cameras.  Also, rather than just the standard black model you can make it a little more personal with magenta, white, citron, and cobalt: for those color challenged like me, it looks like black, pink, white, yellow, and blue!

You can check out the 7” version if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/7fire2014 into your web browser.

You can check out the 6” version of you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/6fire2014 into your web browser.

 

Kindle Fire HDX – 8.9” Version

With this one, Amazon has made many comparisons to the iPad Air – with more “this” and “that” such as 30% more pixels (makes the display more crisp), 20% lighter than an iPad Air, faster processor, and Dolby Atmos for a unique sound experience.  These are pretty pricey, starting at $379 for a basic Wi-Fi version to a couple of hundred dollars more if you want both Wi-Fi and 4G cellular connectivity.

You can check out the new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9” version if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/89firehdx2014 into your web browser.

 

Kindle Voyage

The Kindle Voyage is a new e-Ink reader which (to me) looks like a much thinner version of the Paperwhite with an almost 50% improvement in the number of pixels per inch (that means the letters on the screen are more crisp), and he ability to turn the page without touching the screen with “Reimagined page turns.”  The starting price on these is $199 for the Wi-Fi version, and $269 for one with both Wi-Fi and free 3G cellular.

Interestingly, and it seems rather chicken of Amazon, a power adaptor has to be purchased separately for $15 if you purchase it at the same time as you purchase the Voyager (or $20 if you purchase it later), so if you already have a micro-USB charger handy I wouldn’t order one of the chargers.

You can check out the new Kindle Voyage if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/kindlevoyage into your web browser.

 

Kindle

The plain-Jane, stripped down e-Ink reader has been retooled for 2014 – I’m not real sure what changed from last year’s model except for the claim of faster page turns with a new processor; it is also a touch screen and is Wi-Fi only.  Similar to the Voyager above, Amazon is not shipping these with a power adaptor.

You can check out the new Kindle if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/thekindle into your web browser.

 

Fire HD Kids Edition

This one is fairly interesting – it is built a little tougher and looks kind of like a toy and is geared directly for kids – yet it also has front and rear facing cameras.  Parents, if you’ve been considering a tablet for one of your children I would check this one out: Amazon is offering a no questions asked two year replacement warranty with the claim “…if they break it, we’ll replace it for free.”  I think that’s huge as both of our kids broke their Fires and it was a good thing we had the extended warranty.

It also has a lot of parental controls you can set as well as a kid-proof case.  A 6” version costs $149 and a 7” version costs $189.

You can check out the Fire HD Kids Edition tablet if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/kidsfire into your web browser.

 

That’s all I had for tonight, and you should stay fairly busy if you check out the links above – have fun!

Regards,

Michael

 

 

 

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Just a Quick Note…

I have just a quick couple of notes in this post, then I’ll let you go on about the rest of your day….

Free Kindle Books

In a post today, I listed the book that started this whole blog thing for free today – Free Kindle Books and How to Find Them.  It will be free through Saturday vs. its regular price of $2.99, and if you haven’t downloaded it before I (of course) highly recommend you download it while it is free.  You can check out that post and grab the link to the book if you click here.

The book contains the “famous” list of free Kindle book links by genre to the Amazon store, so you can immediately drill down in the Mystery or Romance sections as an example and see only the free Kindle book offerings.  I don’t publish that list anymore in the blog, so that should hopefully be another incentive to grab it now.  I did mention it was free, didn’t I?

Kindle Fire Giveaway

Lots of folks are entering the Kindle Fire giveaway: have you?  You still have time as the time period to sign up ends Monday, but why not take 8 seconds right now to enter?  You can if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/914kf into your web browser.

 

Have a great rest of your week!

Michael

 

 

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Free Amazon Gift Card

The following is a revision of a post I last posted about in October 2013. The number of people reading this blog has grown since then (and I hope some of that is attributable to folks thinking there is some value to the blog), and I thought it appropriate to repeat it: I was reminded of this post as I’ve got another big jar of coins I gathered at home while doing some much-needed cleaning of the closets!  If you are reading this post on the blog’s website or Facebook page, I would appreciate a “Like” or “Share” so your friends and family can be notified of this tip, also!

Kindles and other eBook readers have some costs to them: by the time you purchase the Kindle and other related accessories (cover to protect it, maybe an extra charger, etc.) can certainly add up. However, you’ve made your initial investment in the Kindle hardware, and there is enough free content out there for you to read the rest of your life without buying another book. Forever.

Forever is a long time.

While I do read a lot of the free books I talk about here in the blog I still enjoy certain authors and will purchase a lot of books. Some of them are inexpensive offerings from independent authors and some are from your mainstream “big name” authors, and I don’t care what the price is – I’ve gottagetitnow. Well, I do care what the price is but I may just wait until it gets below $10 unless it’s a new one by Harlan Coben. I’m sure there are offerings by favorite authors you want to buy, too.

So, what’s my point with this post? Great question because, as in real life, I am getting long-winded.

You have a source of “free” money you can spend in the Amazon store and you probably don’t realize it as it is right under your nose. I’m talking about your loose change.

Most of you have seen the change conversion machines in grocery and other stores, and a lot of you have used them: you take in your coffee can of loose change, dump it in the hopper, the machine counts it and then spits out a receipt you take to the cash register to redeem for paper currency or a credit in the store. The one main drawback to these machines, to me, is a lot of them take an 8% or more commission / cut of whatever you brought in as their profit. For example, at an 8% commission rate you would need to bring in $10.87 worth of change to receive a $10 bill. Some people will say “so what” and accept that as a cost of doing business vs. rolling the money yourself and either turning it in to a bank (if they accept the change these days – my local branch of Bank of America does not) or taking it to a convenience store who needs it and having everyone behind you steam as you and the convenience store clerk count out a bagful of pennies.

If you were following along and did the math to see what the effective annual interest rate is on my $10.87 example above, great. If you didn’t, I’ve performed the calculation for you: assuming the vendor collects the change from the machine every three days and takes it to their bank, that 8% rate for a three day holding period converts to a whopping 266.7% annual interest rate. The grocery store usually splits the fee earned 50-50 with the owner of the equipment, but even if the grocery store is providing a three day loan to the equipment maker until they are reimbursed, that is one heck of a money maker (why didn’t I think of that?)!

I’m sure some of you are still wondering what my point is with this post. I’ll get to it, I just had to set the stage.

Coinstar is one of the largest providers in the USA of this equipment to stores; they are also the parent company behind the Redbox DVD rental machines you seem to see everywhere. They have partnered with Amazon to not charge you a fee for the change you bring in if you bring in a minimum of $5.00 worth of change, but they will give you a gift card eligible for 100% of the change you bring in to be used at the Amazon website; I am assuming Amazon is paying the 8% commission fee as a customer acquisition cost.

That’s actually a huge benefit for you and me as we feed our Kindle book addiction or shopping habits on Amazon.

Using my earlier example, if you brought in $10.87 worth of change and selected the Amazon gift card option, you would get a $10.87 Amazon gift card as your receipt. You would then enter the gift card details on your Amazon account on your computer (or Kindle, if the wireless feature is on with the browser pointed to the Amazon website). You can then use those funds now applied to your account and buy not only Kindle books but anything else on the Amazon website.

You also don’t have to roll the coins yourself or, if your house is like mine, have a couple of containers here and there full of spare change. You’re also not giving up any of your money as a commission just for someone to accept your spare change. I hope that’s change you can believe in (pun intended).

Coinstar has partnered with other companies in addition to Amazon to offer gift cards with no fee to you – you turn in $10.87 worth of coins, you get a $10.87 gift card to the Amazon store or to the other store(s) participating in the program. While Coinstar is one of the largest providers of this equipment to stores in the USA, they are not the only one so don’t assume your local grocery store is a Coinstar machine.

To find a Coinstar machine, you can point your web browser to http://www.coinstar.com and do two things from this page: (1) enter your zip code in the top right-hand corner to find a Coinstar machine near you, and (2) see a list of companies that have signed up for the gift card promotion by clicking “details” under the name of the store / retail location. When I just did the same for a location near me, in addition to an Amazon gift card my selections were to Sears, JC Penney, Lowes, iTunes, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, The Home Depot and a few others.  You can also donate the change to seven different charities vs. taking a gift card, and the charity will receive 100% of the proceeds.

My old quart-sized Mason Jar I use to hold my change is almost full of silver coins, so it’s off to the Coinstar machine!

Hope that helps!

Michael

 

 

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It’s a Rambling Blog Post…

It’s time for another rambling blog post, where I don’t have a set agenda but just start banging away on the keyboard in an effort to answer a few questions, impart some knowledge,  yet try not to waste too much of your time.  If you want to write to me, my email address is Michael at fkbooksandtips dot com (I type it out that way in a small attempt to thwart the spammers out there).

 

Kindle Fire Giveaway

The latest Kindle Fire giveaway ends tomorrow night – as I compose this sentence, there are approximately 25,000 entries so far or about 7,000 or so less than the last giveaway.  You’re not going to let the nice folks from the last giveaway beat you this time, are you?  It’s easy (and absolutely free) to enter, and takes just seconds: you can enter if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/814kf into your web browser.  Once you’re there, just scroll down a little bit to input your information in the entry box.

Your friends, family, and co-workers are eligible to enter, also – the more the merrier!  I’m certain they would appreciate your sharing the link!

 

Social Media Sites

Speaking of sharing, in addition to Facebook I get requests all of the time if the blog is registered on such-and-such social media site.  If I reply “no” I usually get a reply back asking me “why not” with a brief synopsis of the plusses (but never minuses) of making a time investment to establish yet another presence on another social media website.

There are so many social media sites, with new ones seeming to appear each week, I can’t keep them all straight.  I’m absolutely convinced many of those around today won’t be here in a year or two, and I’m not about to prognosticate on the next big thing or who will make it or not.  I’m probably showing my age, but I sometimes think I am social media’d to a slow, miserable death.

Remember My Space, the Excite search engine, America Online?  Each of these was worth a gajillion dollars back in the day and were the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

In other words, I’m not going to chase the latest and greatest.

The blog does have three social media sites, which basically provide links to the daily posts and gives you an opportunity to comment on those sites (you can also use the comment features at the bottom of each post on the blog’s website).  Those three are:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fkbooks

Twitter: http://twitter.com/FKBT

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/fkbooks

 

Of the three social media sites, the one that has impressed me in terms of growth is Pinterest.  About a year ago, there weren’t that many members following the blog’s presence there and now there are about 25,000 with all sorts of repinning done by each of you.

Twitter has remained relatively flat in terms of the number of subscribers and Facebook has had a small, incremental growth over the past year.  Most of that slow growth is due to both of those companies finally deciding they want to make money – you have to pay through the nose to guarantee that people who have “Liked” your page on Facebook, for example, to see one of your posts on the wall (to have this post shown on all of the blogs’ follower’s walls would cost about $600 – no kidding).

Social media certainly has its uses, and everyone uses it different.  Regardless, if one of those is your favorite please feel free to click one of the links above!

 

Free App for the Blog

About a year and a half ago or so, I released a free app so you can read the blog’s posts on a Kindle Fire or any Android-enabled phone or tablet computer.  I did this because Amazon has made a concentrated shift to not publicizing the blogs anymore on the Amazon site (they removed the link to sign up on Paperwhites, but you can still receive it that way if you subscribe on the main Amazon site).

That app has surpassed any expectation I ever had – I thought it would be great if 25 to 50 thousand people downloaded it over the life of the app or blog: a few months ago, it had over 1 million downloads from either the Amazon App Store or the Google Play Store and its affiliates.  Wow!

In honor of that millionth download, I published an update to it that has quicker refresh and download times from the blog’s website.  You can download and use it for free if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/fkbtfreeapp into your web browser.

Now, if I can just find a way to get $1 annually from each downloader….

 

Amazon / Hachette War

Based on the email volume, a lot of you have asked me my opinion about the battle between Amazon and Hachette, one of the large book publishing houses.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, I am sure you can Google “Amazon Hachette” and see all sorts of opinions and perspectives.

Similar to a divorce, there are always two sides to every story but I have to tell you I am a free market capitalist – I think price controls, market manipulation, subsidies, etc. are never good for the long run as the free market will force supply and demand to dictate what a reasonable price should be.

Although I have commented about it on other forums that were more appropriate for the topic, that’s all I’ll say about it on this forum….for now, at least!

 

Baseball

Baseball has nothing to do with a Kindle, but many of you know it is my favorite game.  It has been a depressing year for me, to say the least as the Rangers have been snakebit with injuries.  Living in Houston as a Rangers fan makes it worse as they aren’t much better….here’s to hoping the Rangers continue their ways and become the big winner with the #1 draft pick next year!

 

That’s all I have for today – make sure you enter the Fire giveaway by using the link above!

Have a great rest of your week-

Michael Gallagher

 

 

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A Rambling Blog Post

It has been a little while since I’ve had a rambling blog post…one of those type of things where I really have no set agenda before I start banging away on the keyboard.  If you would like to write to me, my email address is michael at fkbooksandtips dot com (I type it out that way in a small attempt to thwart the professional spammers).

 

Kindle Paperwhite Giveaway

The Kindle Paperwhite giveaway that ended on Monday was quite a success – over 20,000 entries!  The lucky winner was Laura M. in Oklahoma, and her new Paperwhite should be arriving at her door before lunch time tomorrow!

If you didn’t win, don’t let it get you down – I have a good feeling there will be another giveaway or two in the near future…..so keep your eyes peeled to the blog and look for the notification!

 

The Kindle Daily Deal and Free App of the Day

I used to post the Kindle Daily Deal and Free App of the Day on a frequent basis, and many of you have emailed me asking me where it went – it didn’t go anywhere!  Amazon still publishes the Kindle Daily Deal and Free App of the Day each and every day, it’s just become a little too cumbersome to post about it every day: many of the Kindle Daily Deals aren’t really deals anymore (to me, at least) because they are around $2.99 each vs. the 99 cents they all seemed to be at the inception of the program, and a lot of the free app of the day offerings seem to be a pretty basic shoot ‘em up game I wouldn’t play if it was free or not.

You can always check them out on your own, and I’d recommend you bookmark these locations:

 

Baseball

Long-time readers of the blog know I love baseball, and I have been a lifelong fan of the Texas Rangers.  I used to think living in Houston over the past 4-5 years was tough with the Astros sucking wind, but the Astros this year are even ahead of the Rangers.  I should re-characterize it as it’s tough being a baseball fan in the entire state of Texas!

Did anyone else besides me think it was strange not having the All-Star game this year near July 4th?  The week of July 4th was always good for watching the home run derby, cheering on the AL in the All-Star game, and seeing how many hot dogs the competitive eaters could eat during the 4th of July contest without reverse-eating into their hands.

 

That’s all I can think of this morning, so I will keep it short and sweet.  I hope each of you have a great rest of the week and weekend!

 

Michael

 

 

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