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Nate Hoffelder

Nate Hoffelder auf Twitter.

Pathable and Streamyard

The pandemic is raging. Schools are switching to virtual learning within days of starting the fall semester. Experts saying that we will not have a vaccine for at least another year.

It is clear that we’re not going to be going to public events any time soon. Online is the new pink. With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to a couple tools which will be seeing a lot more use for the next while.

One is Pathable, and the other is Streamyard.


This is a tool for publishing a live stream.

You’re probably thinking it’s similar to Zoom, which isn’t quite true. Zoom is a video conferencing tool which can be used for live streams, while Streamyard is what you use to publish a live stream simultaneously to FB, Youtube, LinkedIn, etc while at the same time recording your stream so it can later be uploaded to Youtube and Facebook. If you’ve watched a recording of a FB Live video and it had a logo in one corner, then it was probably recorded using Streamyard (this is one of its cooler features).

One way to explain the difference between Streamyard and, well, everyone else would be the analogy of recording video with your smartphone versus a DSLR. Yes, they both do the job, but one produces much better content.

If you plan to produce a lot of live streams and haven’t yet checked out Streamyard, now is the time to do so.



I don’t want to oversell it but Pathable could be the future of conferences. It is a platform for virtual conferences that brings together scheduled sessions, attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors into a single site.

Basically, if you want to have a virtual conference where attendees can actually network and not just all launch a Zoom stream at the appointed time, you need Pathable.

The RWA used this platform for its conference this past weekend. I was there as an exhibitor, and I was surprised at just how useful this was. I could respond to questions, message attendees, share files, and even host my own live streams. (I hadn’t prepared for that because I didn’t even know it was possible until the Wednesday before the conference, but I could have done it.)

Right now a lot of conferences are still telling attendees which Zoom link to open at a given time, and if you are lucky they even have all the Zoom links on a single web page. Balticon worked that way, and it did work after a fashion, but it also wasn’t very much fun because there was no way to really talk to the other attendees outside of a session. (In their defense, they did have to switch to virtual on very short notice.)

That said, Pathable is great but it’s still far from perfect. It was competently designed by capable engineers, but the current interface was clearly not made with users in mind. (Seriously, Pathable, I’d be happy to consult on this.)


* * *

Do you want to know why I am sharing this? It’s because I know people who are planning conferences for next spring who still think they can hold an in-person event. That ain’t happening, and I am hoping someone will forward this to them so they can start planning for a virtual conference now rather than waiting for the last minute.

Amazon Releases a Firmware Update for the Kindle Paperwhite 3, and Other Models

Amazon just saved me around $100 with their latest Kindle update. The ebook giant just released the v5.13.2 Kindle update, and it works on all Kindles as far back as the Kindle Paperwhite 3.

According to the experts over at MobileRead, this update doesn’t add any features so I almost didn’t post about it, but then I read that the Kindle PW3 was included in the update. That is great news for me because it saves me from having to buy a new Kindle to stay on top of current features.

Amazon hadn’t updated the PW3 since last year, making a lot of us wonder whether it was no longer being supported. It would seem the concern was unfounded.

Amazon is distributing the update automatically over Wifi. If you don’t want to wait then you can download the update from the Kindle Software Updates page on Simply copy the file to your Kindle using a USB cable, and then navigate to its settings page.  The dropdown menu in the settings page should show an option to update (assuming that you copied the correct file to your device).


My Onyx Boox Poke2 Color Has Arrived – What Should I Do With It?

After two weeks of excruciating uncertainty, my Poke2 Color  arrived via DHL today. Onyx’s first color ereader is a small nondescript black rectangle that arrived in a nondescript cardboard box. It has a much less ornate design than the Pocketbook Color (you’d almost think Onyx and Kobo shared designers).

This ereader runs Android, and comes with its own appstore (the selection is rather limited). So tell me, what do you want me to test on it?

I’d love to answer any questions you may have. At the moment I am planning to write a review for each device, and a comparison review.

I hope I am not spoiling the comparison review for you if I tell you that the Pocketbook Color is hands down the better color ereader. While the two devices have the same screen, the PB Color is  much better at displaying color images. (The software makes a huge difference.)

While I have only had the Poke2 Color for about an hour, the difference in quality could not be more obvious. The PB Color will display an image with colors that are vivid and sharp, while the Poke2 Color will display the same image from the same ebook in warmer and fuzzier tones. (Also, the Poke2 Color has considerable ghosting issues.)

Any questions?

Avalue Launches a Whitelabel 13.3″ E-ink Tablet

Yesterday the Taiwan-based OEM Avalue announced, in partnership with E-ink, that they have "a Digital Paper tablet that can be optimized for use within a wide array of industrial and educational applications".

What this essentially means is that Avalue is moving into the same niche as Netronix, the Taiwan ereader maker which is the hardware partner for Kobo, Barnes &Noble, and Sony. If you have a few hundred thousand dollars to throw around, Avalue will design an epaper tablet for you.

Their device will reportedly have a "paper-sized" screen. The actual dimensions aren’t given, which means it will most likely be a 13.3″ screen (a 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper has a diagonal measurement of 13.9″).

The press release mentions the following features.

  • Letter size – full page view, no scrolling or zooming
  • Reads like paper – no glare, use indoors or outside
  • Annotate, highlight, erase – enable active reading
  • Take handwritten notes – organize your thoughts and ideas
  • Always on – quick access to documents and notes
  • Long battery life – lasts about three weeks
  • Thin, lightweight – similar to about 30 pieces of paper
  • Durable and unbreakable – take it anywhere
  • Secure – keep documents digital
  • Wireless enabled – access documents and notes anywhere
  • Customizable – optimize for use with existing applications

If this were a real device, I would be excited. But since it’s not, I will temper my enthusiasm.

On a related note, I went digging through Avalue’s website and discovered that they also "make" a couple signage prodcuts, including models that use the 42″ and 31″ E-ink screens which were announced 5 or 6 years ago, but never actually used anywhere.

They also list a 13.3″ "eNote Tablet" in their healthcare IoT section. That device would appear to be almost identical to the one that launched yesterday, but since yesterday’s launch is so vague it is hard to be certain.

Pocketbook Color Now Available from Newegg for $229

Pocketbook’s second color ereader, the Pocketbook Color, was initially only available in Europe when it launched about a month ago, but earlier today it showed up on Newegg.

While the Pocketbook Color costs 199 euros in Europe, the US price is a reasonable $229 plus shipping.

The Pocketbook Color sports a 6″ color E-ink screen capable of displaying either grayscale (at 300 ppi) or color (at 100 ppi). It is capable of displaying color because it uses one of E-ink’s new Kaleido screens to display up to 4096 colors while preserving all the unique properties of E-ink tech.

And thanks to the frontlight, you will be able to see all those colors while reading in the dark.

Running Pocketbook’s own OS on a dual-core CPU, the Pocketbook Color is quite fast. I have had one for a few weeks, and I’m pleased with its responsiveness. (I am putting the final touches on my review.)

This ereader supports six popular audio formats  as well as 23 other files formats, including Mobi and Epub. It has 16GB to fill with ebooks before you’ll need to add a microSD card (up to 32GB supported). Weighing in at 160 grams, the Pocketbook Color measures only 8mm thin, and comes equipped with both Wifi and Bluetooth.

If you want to get a color ereader in the US, this is just about your only option. The Onyx Boox Poke2 Color, a $299 ereader from China, was available for less than a day after it launched two weeks ago. The Poke2 Color is now out of stock.

And that is okay because this is a great color ereader – just so long as you are happy to sacrifice resolution for color.


Audible Plus Offers Unlimited Access to Exclusive Content for $8 Per Month

Amazon subsidiary Audible just announced that it is launching its third unlimited subscription audiobook service.

The service is called Audible Plus, and will cost $7.95 per month. It will let you access "over 68,000 hours of content and 11,000+ titles from across the content spectrum", Audible announced, "including documentaries, comedy, journalism, kids, wellness, self-development, selections from Audible Theater and more. New Audible Originals come from a wide range of talent including CommonSt. VincentBlake GriffinJesse EisenbergTom MorelloKevin BaconDavid KoeppJamie Lee CurtisKate MaraTayari Jones and Harvey Fierstein, among many other celebrated creators and performers. The content slate will continue to grow alongside various technical enhancements over the coming months."

This is the content that was formerly known as Audible Original.

It’s unclear how much of the catalog is exclusive content versus third-party, and it’s also not clear how creators' are getting paid (I am waiting for Audible to return my emails).

Current  Audible subscribers will find the Audible Plus catalog included in their existing subscriptions.  Speaking of which, Audible has renamed its Audible Gold plan and appears to be retiring the Audible Platinum plan.

Audible Gold is now called Audible Premium Plus on Amazon’s website. It costs $15 per month. and is the only option offered. All mentions of the more expensive Audible Platinum plan have been scrubbed, however it would does look like Amazon will let you keep the Platinum plan (for now). The Verge reports that Platinum subscribers will continue to receive two at the $22.95 per month price.

Update: A commenter says she can still see the $23 a month plan. I still can’t, which is interesting.

Audible Plus begins its initial rollout this week to existing Audible members. New customers interested in signing up to preview the Audible Plus standalone plan can do so beginning on Thursday.

P.S. Audible’s other audiobook subscription services include Audible Unlimited, which launched in Japan in 2015, and Audible Escape, which launched under the name Audible Romance back in 2017. Lets Authors Create "Universal" Book Links (Including to Libraries and GoodReads)

Are you familiar with Draft2Digital’s Universal Links feature, the tool which helps authors find and link to all the stores where their ebooks (and audiobooks) can be found?

I have some good news for you today: Mike Cane has tipped me to a competing service. Launched in May, is a service that authors can use to find all of the websites that carry their books.

It’s not quite as comprehensive as its competitor yet, but the developer is adding more stores all the time. What’s more, as you can see on this page, also includes links to WorldCat and GoodReads as well as sites that sell the print book (AbeBooks).

Clearly was built with an entirely different purpose in mind than was Draft2Digital’s Universal Links feature. To put it simply, if you want to link to ebook retailers, use Draft2Digital’s Universal Links feature. But if you want to link to all types of sites where your book can be found, check out

Morning Coffee – 24 August 2020

Here are a few stories to read this Monday morning.

Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt Still Likes the Nook

I am pleased to report that, when it comes to B&N CEO’s opinion on his digital division, nothing has changed in the past couple months.

RetailDive published an interview (which Good eReader subsequently pirated) where Daunt was effusive in his praise for the Nook.

You would think, then, that Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader would be destined to continue to languish on Daunt’s watch. Indeed, Waterstone’s, under Daunt’s direction, gave up its e-book business in 2016, tying up with Rakuten’s Kobo platform instead.

But Daunt sounds ready to give Nook the attention it has desperately needed, as Amazon’s Kindle has run away with the space.

"I absolutely love Nook, and I think my predecessors had fallen out of love with it," he said. "It’s under-promoted to our customers, it became the sort of wayward child that had become embarrassing. But if you want to read digitally, the app is fantastic. I’m a champion of digital books and digital book retailing, but above and beyond that I’m a champion of reading. There are many reasons why people want to read digitally, but Nook needs to be much better supported within the Barnes & Noble ecosystem."

That is good to hear, although not really news.  Remember, that is more or less what he said two months ago.

In any case, Daunt has his work cut out for him. Nook revenues totaled $92 million in the 2019 fiscal year, which ended in 27 April 2019. (B&N did not file a fiscal report with the SEC in 2020 because, as a privately held company, it did not have to do so.) That is down from its peak around 8 years ago of over a billion dollars a year in revenue.

While we do not know its current state, the retailer appeared to be having money troubles this spring. This likely turned around as the year wore on due to the boom in ebook sales, as reported by NPD.

NPD: Trade-Published Romance US eBook Sales Up Over 2019

Romance has increasingly gone indie over the past decade as more authors discovered they can reach readers without having to go through a publisher. As a result, trade publishers such as Harlequin have seen steadily declining romance sales, but according to NPD that trend reversed itself this year.

NPD released data yesterday which showed that US sales of trad pub romance titles rose along with the rest of the market this spring, with the genre closing out May with sales at 0.1% onver the same period in 2019.

“With brick-and-mortar retail bookstores closed in the U.S. this past spring, e-book sales, which have always been stronger for romance than in other categories, really took off,” said Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD. “Print romance books also rose slightly, as newly housebound readers looked for fun and immersive germ-free reads while waiting out the pandemic.”

Romance book sales, which had fallen 11% in January 2020 over the previous year, began trending upward in March. As you can see in the chart above, this was largely the result of a very pleasing increase in ebook sales. Unit sales for trad pub romance ebooks increased 17% from January through May 2020.

In all, 16.2 million romance ebooks and print books were sold during that period, with ebooks making up 60% of trad pub sales in the genre.

Historical romance was the top growth subject in the romance category on a unit basis, in both print and e-book formats, but top-selling e-book titles differed from print book sales leaders. “Golden in Death” (Macmillan) led e-book sales in the overall romance category, followed by “Hideaway” (Macmillan), and “Chasing Cassandra” (Harper Collins). Print book sales were led by “Window on the Bay” (Random House), followed by “Every Breath” (Hachette Book Group), and “Country Strong” (Harlequin).

Amazon Has Weeded the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library

Originally launched under the name Amazon Prime eBooks in late 2011, the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library was Amazon’s first foray into ebook subscriptions. It was only available to Amazon Prime members in the US, but it was popular enough that it convinced Amazon to launch Kindle Unlimited not quite three years later.

And now the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library has been shut down. eBook Friendly initially reported, and I can confirm, that the KOLL has been discontinued.

The relevant page on Amazon has been replaced with one that promotes Kindle Unlimited, the service is no longer mentioned in Amazon’s FAQ, and you can no longer access the KOLL menus on either the Kindle or the Kindle Fire. The Kindle no longer even mentions KOLL, while my Fire still lists it in the menu but sends you to a KU menu when you click the link.

While there has been no formal announcement from Amazon, it’s pretty clear that the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library is deader than Jeff Bezos’s conscience.

That is not a huge loss, but it is deserving of a footnote.

We would not have Kindle Unlimited with KOLL, and KU has been a boon to both readers and authors. KU has launched multiple author careers while at the same time delivering great value for readers. It paid out over $300 million last year, making it one of the larger ebook markets all on its own.

It’s a worthy successor to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, which will not be missed.

The Usual Book Publishing Industry Players Ask Congress to Bell the Cat

It’s hard to beleive that it’s been, what, 5 years since we last played this game, but the US book publishing industry is back to its favorite pastime: complaining about how the biggest book retailer is violating antitrust law.

Twenty years ago their target was Barnes & Noble, but for the past decade the honor has gone to Amazon. Every few years the usual industry players come out with a screed about how this or that activity of Amazon was a violation of antitrust law.

This time around the ABA, AAP, and The Authors Guild sent a letter (PDF) to US  Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, chair of the House Antitrust subcommittee, accusing Amazon of the usual malfeasance.

Together, our organizations—the Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild, and the American Booksellers Association—represent thousands of authors, publishers, and booksellers in the United States who serve the democratic exchange of ideas by creating, publishing, and selling books. Our members rely upon a level playing field in the marketplace of ideas to reach, inform, and transact with customers for the delivery of books, whether in physical or digital form. Regrettably, as the Subcommittee’s hearings have laid bare, the competitive framework of the publishing industry has been fundamentally altered in recent years—and remains at serious risk of further diminishment—because of the concentrated power and influence of one company in particular: Amazon.

Amazon’s scale of operation and share of the market for book distribution has reached the point that no publisher can afford to be absent from its online store. A year ago, the New York Times reported that Amazon controlled 50% of all book distribution, but for some industry suppliers, the actual figure may be much higher, with Amazon accounting for more than 70 or 80 percent of sales. Whether it is the negative impact on booksellers of Amazon forcing publishers to predominantly use its platform, the hostile environment for booksellers on Amazon who see no choice but to sell there, or Amazon’s predatory pricing, the point is that Amazon’s concomitant market dominance allows it to engage in systematic below-cost pricing of books to squash competition in the book selling industry as a whole. Remarkably, what this means is that even booksellers that avoid selling on Amazon cannot avoid suffering the consequences of Amazon’s market dominance. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating the problem: it continues to threaten the financial well-being of authors, publishers, and booksellers, some of whom will not survive the year. Amazon, by contrast, with its ever-extensive operation and data network, has grown only more dominant, enjoying its largest-ever quarterly profits during April, May and June.

The hell of it is, they’re right. While it would be easy to simply dismiss this as the usual crying wolf, for once there is an actual wolf. Amazon really does control most of the book market in the US, and I might dislike two of the groups mentioned above (and the third – the AAP – hates my guts) but even I can see that concentrating so much economic power into one company is bad for the public.

Antitrust law originally came about for the express purpose of breaking up large companies such as Amazon because the concentration of wealth and power is harmful to the public. And while the latest thinking is that monopolies are okay so long as consumers aren’t harmed, that is really just one of those Reaganomics myths that were invented to justify gathering more wealth and power into fewer hands.

It’s about time we discarded that myth, and started busting up trusts again.

Alas, I don’t think that will occur.

image by joe.ross via Flickr

Morning Coffee -17 August 2020

Here are a few stories to read this Monday morning.

If you need a tech VA or help with your website, email me at [email protected]. Got a story that I should include in next week’s list? Shoot me an email.

Ask The Expert: When Can We Expect Better Color E-ink Screens?

Someone asked a question in the comment section of the blog the other day about color E-ink screens. He wanted to know when we would see a color screen on a note-taking device, but I misunderstood and thought he meant better color screens.

After I realized my mistake, I thought this was a great question that merited getting answered in its own blog post. So here it is:

When Can We Expect Better Color E-ink Screens?

Well first of all, I think we have a decent color E-ink screen now. The Kaleido screen on the Pocketbook Color is a major improvement over the Triton color E-ink screens. I think either ereader with this screen (Poke2 Color, Pocketbook Color) is worth buying if you want a color screen.

There is a chance we could get a larger screen, but I do not expect a better quality screen any time soon.

I would not wait for the next-gen color screen because its launch date cannot be predicted (such as Amazon pulling a rabbit out of their hat). A better screen is going to require a breakthrough in screen resolution and another breakthrough in the number of shades supported by E-ink screens (currently 16).

I will need to address those separately.

Screen Resolution

Kaleido screens are limited to 100 PPI because because the highest resolution screens which E-ink can put on an ereader top out at 300 DPI (dots per inch).

We do not usually use the term DPI with respect to E-ink screens, but I am using it here so I can explain how Kaleido screens differ from Carta screens. The reason I use 300 DPI is to make the point that the highest resolution screen E-ink can put on an ereader squeezes 300 dots or addressable locations into an inch of screen.

Edit: And those 300 dots are measured on the diagonal, not vertically or horizontally. (Check the math, and you’ll find I am right.)

If it helps, you can think of the 300 DPI as 300 boxes which can each contain one value.  Actually, I think that is a great analogy, so I will use it for the rest of this post.

If you wanted to use those 300 boxes for grayscale, you can have a 300 PPI Carta screen such as on the Kindle Paperwhite.

But if you want a color E-ink screen, you’re actually going to need to use three of those boxes for each color pixel, giving you a 100 PPI Kaleido screen.

The thing is, a color pixel is actually made up of 3 different color pixels (red, green, and blue), which means you need to have three different "boxes" for a color screen.

This usually never comes up for LED and LCD screens because everyone just assumes there will be RGB pixels, but with E-ink screens we are used to grayscale, where there is only a single color (shades of gray). We’ve spent years only thinking in terms of grayscale pixels, so it comes as a shock when we gain color but have to sacrifice screen resolution.

(BTW, the older Triton color E-ink screens required four "boxes" for each color pixel. That’s why it had such low resolution.)

In conclusion, we will not get a higher resolution Kaleido screen until E-ink can produce a higher resolution grayscale screen. Since that is by definition a breakthrough, there’s no way to predict when it will happen.


The other major limitation for Kaleido screens is the number of colors supported. It can show 4096 colors, and due to the limitations of E-ink tech that is literally the best it can do at this time.

A pixel on an E-ink screen can display up to 16 shades of any single color. With most ereaders, that is 16 shades of gray (from white to black), which is great for displaying text (and really okay for displaying images).

But with a Kaleido screen we’re talking about 16 shades of red, green, or blue.

The reason the Kaleido screen can do 4096 colors is that the 16 shades of red crossed with the 16 shades of  blue crossed with the 16 shades of  green gives you 4096 colors. (Seriously, check the math.)

We’re not going to get additional colors on a Kaleido  screen until E-ink releases a screen which can do, say, 24 or 32 shades of gray. Since that is by definition a breakthrough, there’s no way to predict when it is going to happen.

* * *

Does that help any?

Kindle Unlimited Funding Pool Grew Slightly in July 2020

Amazon announced on Friday that the Kindle Unlimited funding pool grew by $100,000 in July 2020, to $32.4 million.

The per-page rate, on the other hand, continues to vary wildly as a result of Amazon’s arbitrary changes to the funding pool.

  • July 2020: $0.004294
  • June 2020: $0.004547
  • May 2020: $0.004203
  • April 2020: $0.004226
  • March 2020: $0.0046
  • February 2020: $0.004547
  • January 2020: $0.004411
  • December 2019: $0.004664
  • November 2019: $0.004925
  • October 2019: $0.0046763
  • September 2019: $0.0046799
  • August 2019:  $0.004387
  • July 2019 –  $0.004394
  • June 2019 – $0.004642
  • May 2019 – $0.0046598
  • April 2019 – $0.0046602
  • March 2019 – $0.0045124
  • February 2019 – $0.0047801
  • January 2019 – $0.0044227
  • December 2018 – $0.0048778
  • November 2018 – $0.0052056
  • October 2018 – $0.0048414
  • September 2008 – $0.004885
  • August 2018 – $0.0044914
  • July 2018 – $0.0044936

P.S. Here’s a list of the monthly funding pools. It does not include the bonuses paid out each month.

  • July 2014: $2.5 million (Kindle Unlimited launches early in the month)
  • August 2014: $4.7 million
  • September 2014: $5 million
  • October 2014: $5.5 million
  • November 2014: $6.5 million
  • December 2014: $7.25 million
  • January 2015 – $8.5 million
  • February 2015: $8 million
  • March 2015: $9.3 million
  • April 2015: $9.8 million
  • May 2015: $10.8 million
  • June 2015: $11.3 million
  • July 2015: $11.5 million
  • August 2015: $11.8 million
  • September 2015: $12 million
  • October 2015: $12.4 million
  • November 2015: $12.7 million
  • December 2015: $13.5 million
  • January 2016: $15 million
  • February 2016: $14 million
  • March 2016: $14.9 million
  • April 2016: $14.9 million
  • May 2016: $15.3 million
  • June 2016: $15.4 million
  • July 2016: $15.5 million
  • August 2016: $15.8 million
  • September 2016: $15.9 million
  • October 2016: $16.2 million
  • November 2016: $16.3 million
  • December 2016: $16.8 million
  • January 2017: : $17.8 million
  • February 2017: : $16.8 million
  • March 2017: $17.7 million
  • April 2017: $17.8 million
  • May 2017 :$17.9 million
  • June 2017: $18 million
  • July 2017: $19 million
  • August 2017: $19.4 million
  • September 2017: $19.5 million
  • October 2017: $19.7 million
  • November 2017: $19.8 million
  • December 2017: $19.9 million
  • January 2018: $20.9 million
  • February 2018: $20 million
  • March 2018: $21 million
  • April 2018: $21.2 million
  • May 2018: $22.5 million
  • June 2018: $22.6 million
  • July 2018: $23.1 million
  • August 2018: $23.3 million
  • September 2018: $23.4 million
  • October 2018: $23.5 million
  • November 2018: $23.6 million
  • December 2018: $23.7 million
  • January 2019: $24.7 million
  • February 2019: $23.5 million
  • March 2019: $24 million
  • April 2019: $24.1 million
  • May 2019: $24.6 million
  • June 2019: $24.9 million
  • July 2019: $25.6 million
  • August 2019: $25.8 million
  • September 2019: $25.9 million
  • October 2019: $26 million
  • November 2019: $26.1 million
  • December 2019: $26.2 million
  • January 2020: $28.2 million
  • February 2020: $27.2 million
  • March 2020: $29 million
  • April 2020: $30.3 million
  • May 2020: $32.2 million
  • June 2020: $32.3 million
  • July 2020: $32.4 million