May 21st, 2013
Last week I was fighting a stomach virus — which meant a lot of time in bed reading e-books! I learned to appreciate when an author can make me smile — especially when I’m feeling miserable — but I also discovered a special service from Amazon that makes Kindle reading more fun.
Today I also wanted to share three funny ebooks that I discovered. Two of them are free, but each of the three authors swears that his story is absolutely true! “Follow the author on his numerous Hollywood adventures,” reads one book’s description, “watching as he glides smoothly from forgery to pornography to crashing the Academy Awards under the alias of a nominated screenwriter, and eventually stumbles into acting in the highest-grossing movie of all time, Titanic.” The author is Emmett James, and he played a steward in Titanic — in the movie’s credits, there’s 60 different people whose name appears before his. But he’s written a fascinating memoir of his life as a film fan — first watching movies as a young teenager, and then appearing in them as an adult. (“Admit One: My Life in Film” is available in Amazon’s Kindle store.)
But while I was reading this book, I remember all the fun special services Amazon makes available for Kindle owners at Kindle.Amazon.com. For example, there’s a “flashcard”-type game which displays clippings from an e-book you’ve read on your Kindle. (It’s a fun way to see if you can remember what you’ve read — and to review your favorite passages from the book.) You can also pull up a big list with all the passages that you’ve highlighted in all of your e-books — and an interactive list that shows which e-books you’re currently reading now. Plus, Amazon even shares a list of the most-highlighted e-book passages of all time. (#3 is a witty observation from Jane Austen. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife…”)
Reviewing my highlights, I remembered a funny free e-book that I hadn’t read for a while — and again, the author swears that his story is entirely true. “I was young and ignorant,” Mark Twain wrote about the first time he came to the American west at the age of 26. “I little thought that I would not see the end of that three-month pleasure excursion for six or seven uncommonly long years!”
Roughing It was the second book Mark Twain ever wrote — in 1870, at the age of 35, looking fondly back at the wild experiences that launched his career. His older brother (Orion Clemens) had been appointed the Territorial Secretary of Nevada for the three years before it became a U.S. state in 1864, and Mark Twain tagged along on the stagecoach ride out west. He remembers being amused that “My brother, the Secretary, took along about four pounds of United States statutes and six pounds of Unabridged Dictionary” — only to discover later that it would’ve been much easier to have copies mailed to Nevada. But mostly I love the book’s friendly spirit, remembering those moments on the trail when “we smoked a final pipe, and swapped a final yarn,” or the campfires “around which the most impossible reminiscences sound plausible, instructive, and profoundly entertaining.”
The brothers sleep in a stagecoach packed with mail sacks, often removing everything but their underwear to stay cool in the frontier heat. And at night as the stagecoach crosses through shallow streams, it tosses its sleeping passengers back and forth while traveling the steep hills on the river’s bank.
“First we would all be down in a pile at the forward end of the stage, nearly in a sitting posture, and in a second we would shoot to the other end, and stand on our heads. And we would sprawl and kick, too, and ward off ends and corners of mail- bags that came lumbering over us and about us; and as the dust rose from the tumult, we would all sneeze in chorus, and the majority of us would grumble, and probably say some hasty thing, like: “Take your elbow out of my ribs! — can’t you quit crowding?”
“Every time we avalanched from one end of the stage to the other, the Unabridged Dictionary would come too; and every time it came it damaged somebody…”
Ironically, it was because of Monty Python that I discovered the third funny e-book. In 1975, Monty Python’s Michael Palin appeared in a TV adaptation of the humorous travelogue “Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog),” with Tim Curry playing the part of the book’s author, Jerome K. Jerome. The adapted script was written by Tom Stoppard, the famous author who 20 years later would win an Academy Award for his screenplay for Shakespeare in Love. “Three Men in a Boat” is a great, classic piece of British humor, available for free at gutenberg.org or for 99 cents in Amazon’s Kindle store. Even though it was written in 1889, the book still reads like a long comedy monologue, and even today it can always makes me laugh.
Here’s how Jerome K. Jerome describes how rainy weather can really spoil your boating expedition.
It is evening. You are wet through, and there is a good two inches of water in the boat, and all the things are damp. You find a place on the banks that is not quite so puddly as other places you have seen, and you land and lug out the tent, and two of you proceed to fix it.
It is soaked and heavy, and it flops about, and tumbles down on you, and clings round your head and makes you mad. The rain is pouring steadily down all the time. It is difficult enough to fix a tent in dry weather: in wet, the task becomes herculean. Instead of helping you, it seems to you that the other man is simply playing the fool. Just as you get your side beautifully fixed, he gives it a hoist from his end, and spoils it all.
“Here! what are you up to?” you call out.
“What are you up to?” he retorts; “leggo, can’t you…?”
I guess it’s just always fun to laugh at someone else’s troubles — especially when you’re sick in bed with troubles of your own!
May 16th, 2013
I usually shop for ebooks using my Kindle — but there’s even more deals if you’re willing to shop online. The Kindle Store also has its own web page on Amazon — and I just noticed today that they’re advertising some great additional discounts on ebooks!
For example, Amazon is running a special selection of discounts that they’re calling The Big Deal. “Now through May 27, save up to 85% on more than 500 Kindle books,” Amazon promises — and the bargain prices are available in at least different categories. There’s fiction, mysteries, humor, children’s books, science fiction, history, nonfiction, biographies, romances, spirituality ebooks, and even ebooks for teenagers! Browse the complete selection at tinyurl.com/EbookBigDeal. Amazon’s discounted three Kurt Vonnegut novels — Jailbird, Palm Sunday, and Hocus Pocus to the Watchmen graphic novel by Alan Moore. An “Editor’s Picks” selection highlights Arthur C. Clarke’s The Hammer of God and The Autobiography of Mark Twain. “[N]ot all deals are available in all territories…” Amazon warns — but where the discounts are available, there’s more than 500 of them!
But that’s not the only deal being offered on the front page of the Kindle Store. Amazon will also let you choose one of 16 ebooks to receive for free. It’s a special thank-you for new subscribers for Amazon’s daily e-mail about discounted ebooks. You can always find those discounts on the web at tinyurl.com/DailyKindleDeal, but Amazon will also send you their “Kindle Delivers Daily Deals” e-mails as a reminder. If you’re interested, just go to tinyurl.com/DailyDealsEmail and click the yellow “sign up” button. (Be sure you’re logged in to your Amazon account.) The 16 ebooks you can choose from are all shown at the bottom of the page, Amazon explains, and “If you are a first-time subscriber to the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter, you will receive an e-mail with your unique promotional credit that will allow you to purchase one of the selected Kindle books below for free!”
Amazon’s also started identifying the “Kindle Select 25″. I’ve seen this when I shop for ebooks on my Kindle, but they’ve also got a link to it on Amazon’s online web page for the Kindle Store. Amazon describes it as “Our List of 25 Exciting Books for This Week,” and it’s always fun to see what they choose. Browse the whole selection at tinyurl.com/KindleSelect25
Now I just need to find someplace where I can buy more time to read!
May 13th, 2013
There’s a special tradition in May that happens all around the world. (Or at least, in America, England, Canada…) The first Saturday in May is always “Free Comic Book Day,” where you can walk into any comic book store and receive free comic books as a thank-you from their publishers. This year, the event has come to the Kindle Store — and it seems to be continuing through the whole month of May. And I’ve also discovered a great way to get free Marvel comic books on your Kindle Fire as well as comic books from D.C.!
I’m a big fan of “Free Comic Book” day. It’s exciting to see big crowds descend on your local comic book store, and some stores even feature greeters who are dressed up in superhero costumes. The stores get some support, the fans get a special treat, and it’s nice to see parents introducing their children to a fun new medium. Plus, I get free comic books — and this year I discovered that two of those same titles are also being distributed for the Kindle Fire in Amazon’s Kindle Store!
Point your browser to tinyurl.com/FreeKindleComicBooks for a list of Amazon’s best-selling comic books — and then click on the “Free” tab for these great free comic books…
Superman: Last Son of Krypton #1 — Special Edition
The first chapter of a new graphic novel written by Richard Donner and Geoff Johns (illustrated by Adam Kubert)
D.C. Nation: Beware the Batman / Teen Titans Go! #1
Amazon’s description calls this a “super sampler…the perfect place to check out two sensational series, Beware The Batman and Teen Titans Go,” which are coming to the Cartoon Network on Saturday mornings.
In addition, you can also still download a free issue of Superman by John Byrne (which finds the man of steel fighting a deadly kryptonite-enhanced robot!) at tinyurl.com/SupermanOne. And remember D.C. Comics is also releasing a regular free comic book that includes samples from their whole “universe” of characters, called D.C. Comic Digital Sneak Peeks. But where are the rest of the comic books from Free Comic Book Day? And what if you prefer Spider-Man — or The Avengers, or Captain America, or even the X-Men?
Amazon doesn’t have a deal with their publisher, Marvel comics — but I’ve still found a way to read Marvel Comics on my Kindle Fire…and to find a bigger selection of titles from Free Comic Book Day. The “secret sauce” is an app that’s called ComiXology, which is available in Amazon’s Kindle Store. Once downloaded, you can shop for comic books — including Marvel titles. And there’s even a nice selection of free comic books, including digital editions of these “Free Comic Book Day” titles.
The Steam Engines of Oz
Worlds of Aspen
Buck Rogers: 25th Century A.D.
Molly Danger /Princeless
NFL Rush Zone:
There’s also free issues of two 2012 comic books — Avengers Prime (Volume 1, #1), which features Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, plus Secret Avengers #16, featuring the Black Widow, Captain America, and The Beast. Also free is Marvel’s official comic book prequel to their 2011 movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, and a 2012 issue of Uncanny XMen #10. But my favorite comic is probably the stunning free issue of The Amazing Spider-Man from 2001, which pays tribute to the firefighters who died in the 9/11 attacks. (It’s written and illustrated by some of the biggest names at Marvel Comics — J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna.)
And there’s a wide variety of other free titles available in the Comixology app for Kindle Fire. (Where else could you find Battlestar Galactica with The Best of the Three Stooges, Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, and Garfield and Company?) But best of all, they’ve got a really nice interface for their comic books which may even be better than downloading the comics straight to your Kindle Fire. For comparison, Amazon lets you tap on a panel of a comic book to increase its size — once — but the Comixology app lets you “pinch and expand” the panels to whatever size you want.
Free Comic Book Day was started to “introduce everyone to the joys of reading comics”, according to its page on Wikipedia. But if you missed it when it was happening on the first Saturday in May, you can still join in on the fun with your Kindle Fire!
May 10th, 2013
Is Amazon trying to kill its competition? Amazon’s been offering new $20 discounts on four of their Kindle Fire HD tablets through this Sunday — which is Mother’s Day in the United States. (For a shortcut to the sale, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/Fire4Mom , and enter the code “Fire4Mom” to claim the discount.) But what seems like a nice gift idea may actually just be Amazon’s way of remaining competitive. Because Barnes and Noble had already announced big discounts on their own digital reading device, the Nook. (They’ve lowered the price of their 9-inch, high-definition Nook by over $90, to just $179…)
And they’re both fighting competition from another digital reader — the Kobo. This week I was surprised to see some slick television ads been touting the Kobo as the perfect Mother’s Day gift. It shows heart-warming footage of mothers reading to their children, closing with an announcer reminding viewers that “She gave you the gift of reading. This mother’s day, give it back.” Of course, my first thought was that same slogan could be applied to the Kindle — and it looks like Amazon had the same idea. Last week I received a promotional email for Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite which was using a nearly identical slogan!
“Mom sparked your love of reading. Give her the perfect thank you gift…”
What’s going on? I think the answer lies in a 2010 study, which concluded that 47% of all Kindles were received as a gift. Amazon knows there could be a one-time spike in sales for Kindles this month from all those people who are shopping for the perfect Mother’s Day gift — and apparently, both Barnes and Noble and Kobo Inc. reached the same conclusion. But the situation may be even more desperate for the Nook — at least, according to a Friday rumor. The technology blog TechCrunch reported that Microsoft may be about to purchase the Nook, adding that if it happens, Amazon’s War with Barnes and Noble “could be over.”
At first I thought the acquisition might be good news for the Nook — but most of the technology pundits seem to disagree. “Microsoft will probably simply kill it on purpose,” writes a columnist at Forbes. “The reason is that Microsoft will have no interest in continuing to sink money into a weak performing Android line of devices.” (Microsoft, after all, markets their own line of tablets that are powered by the Windows operating system.) And by the end of the day, Amazon’s stock had shot up in value by 1.3%.
“This will indeed be good news for Amazon and Apple,” Forbes continues, for the simple reason that “Killing off any competition is good.” So when Mother’s Day rolls around again in May of 2014, consumers just might have one less digital reader to choose from. Maybe that’s why Barnes and Noble offered such steep discounts this year on the price of the Nook.
This year’s “Mother’s Day Price War” may also be remember as The Nook’s Last Stand.
May 8th, 2013
I was really excited about this month’s crop of discounted ebooks at Amazon. Last week I wrote about their discounts on science fiction books and thrillers, but I forgot about an even bigger sale. Every month Amazon also highlights a special selection of ebooks — their “100 ebooks for $3.99 or Less”. As always, you can find the whole collection at tinyurl.com/399books — and this month’s ebooks look especially interesting.
But in addition to that, Amazon’s also trying a new kind of sale, called “30 Kindle Books for $3 Each”. You can find them on the same page (at the bottom), giving you 130 different ebooks to choose from for less than four dollar each. This month I actually recognized some of the titles, which is why I say the selection looks especially interesting. Besides some very famous authors — and some justly famous novels — there’s at least one novel thta I’d actually characterize as “notorious!”
Naked Came the Stranger by Penelope Ashe ($2.99)
“Naked Came the Stranger” was one of the most bizarre literary experiments ever. It was written by 24 different authors in 1969, each describing a different romantic encounter with a predatory talk show host named Gillian Blake. Amazon describes it as “A steamy, bestselling tale of Long Island lust, written as a daring literary hoax by Newsday columnist Mike McGrady and two dozen of his colleagues.” McGrady was trying to prove that books became bestsellers solely because they contained lots of sexy scenes — and then set out to prove it, by instructing his co-authors to just emphasize the sex in each part of the book (avoiding anything that would approach literary excellence). “Naked Came the Stranger was an attempt to produce the steamiest and most wildly over-the-top novel of all time,” explains Amazon’s description, “good writing be damned. A sensation upon its first release, forty years later the book remains one of the most sinfully amusing potboilers ever published…” )And according to Wikipedia, it ultimately sold more than 400,000 copies…)
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski ($1.99)
I’ve always been fascinated by poet/novelist Charles Bukowski, and Amazon notes his semi-fictional autobiography is widely hailed as the best of his many novels.” Written in 1982, when the author had just turned 60, it finds Bukowski describing a rough childhood in Germany, becoming an awkward teenager during America’s Great Depression, and “his adolescent discoveries of alcohol, women, and the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection of D. H. Lawrence….” It’s fun to read its reviews on Amazon, from fans who applauded “The Bard of Booze and Broads” to the woman who complained there was no redemption for the novel’s main character. (“I felt like there must be something wrong with me as I trudged through it, waiting for some kind of light at the end of the tunnel…”) But 192 reviewers have given the book a very high average of four and a half stars, and Amazon calls the book “crude, brutal, and savagely funny”.
The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker ($3.49)
She was the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple — but it was just 12 years earlier that Alice Walker published The Third Life of Grange Copeland as her very first novel. It’s a story about a tenant farmer who leaves the Deep South, fails, then returns to the family he left behind, and according to Essence magazine, Walker “dares to reveal truths about men and women, about blacks and whites, about God and love…And we, like Alice Walker’s marvelous characters, come away transformed by knowledge and love but most of all by wonder.” If you’re a fan of the author, there’s an additional treat at the back of the book — an illustrated biography including some rare photos from her personal collection.
The Year the Music Changed by Diane Thomas ($1.99)
My girlfriend loved this book — and I thought it had a fascinating premise. It imagines the letters between a teenaged music fan in the 1950s, and a young singer named Elvis Presley, just before he became a star. I liked how Elvis really became a character in the book, and the letters capture his voice the way you’d imagine it — friendly, humble, and struggling with the onset of success. But it’s really the story of the teenaged girl, wondering why her mother is so unhappy in her marriage, and some of the passages are beautifully written. The whole story is told in the form of letters where she opens up to Elvis — with his own smaller story told in his responses — and at 260 pages, one reviewer on Amazon describes it as “a fast, intensely satisfying read.” I ultimately couldn’t resist reading this book, just because of all the enthusiastic words being used to describe it, like the review in Publisher’s Weekly which described it as simply “Warm, lively and immensely readable.”
I’m always impressed by the variety of ebooks that Amazon is selling. They’ve separated them into seven categories — Fiction and Literature, general nonfiction, kids and teens, mysteries and thrillers, biographies, romance, and science fiction/fantasy. (If you remember R.L. Stine from the Goosebumps series, you might want to try his horror novel for adults — Red Rain.) This month Amazon is also selling nearly two dozen romance novels that have been discounted, with titles like “Standoff at Mustang Ridge”, from the Harlequin Intrigue Series, and “Three Cowboys: Virgil\Morgan\Wyatt”.
There’s even one called “Confessions of an Improper Bride,” plus a title that also seems like a rebuttal — “Ain’t Misbehaving”! But Amazon’s also selling a lot of good “literary” fiction too. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five is only $2.99, and there’s an intriguing novel by George Orwell about the life of an Englishman living abroad, called Burmese Days. So there’s something for everybody!
May 6th, 2013
There’s a special place in Kindle History for George R. R. Martin. In 2011, the author of the Game of Thrones series became only the 11th author to sell over one million ebooks in Amazon’s Kindle Store. “Groucho Marx once said, ‘I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member,’” he joked when he heard the news, “but even Groucho might have made an exception for the Kindle Million Club.” And then he thanked his editor, his publisher, “and most of all, my readers.”
In fact, the print edition of A Dance with Dragons was Amazon’s fifth best-selling book for 2011. (Before it was even released it was already one of Amazon’s top 100 best-selling ebooks, just from pre-order sales.) At the end of the year, Time magazine even put Martin on their list of the 100 most influential people in the world. And this December, Martin will release yet another book based on his popular Game of Thrones series — this one titled “The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister.”
I’ve been trying to explain just how intensely fans feel about George R. R. Martin — and I came across a fascinating statistic that Barnes and Noble shared with The Wall Street Journal last summer. Most people who started reading the ebook version of A Dance with Dragons (on a Nook) actually finished the book, spending an average of 20 hours reading the 1,040-page novel. “An elaborate series like this is great on Kindle,” Amazon’s vice president for Kindle content noted when Martin crossed sold his one millionth ebook in the Kindle Store, “because you can turn the last page of book three at 10:30 at night, then buy book four, and be on its first page at 10:31!
And some of my readers seem to be doing exactly that. (One proudly told me that the first book they’d ever bought on their Kindle was Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice, which is book one in the “Game of Thrones” series, and “Since then, I’ve bought the rest too!”) But the best testimonial I’ve seen actually came from my girlfriend, who wrote an enthusiastic explanation explaining just how easy it is to get hooked on George R. R. Martin’s series — especially if you own a Kindle! I wanted to publish it below, as either a book recommendation — or maybe a warning!
* * *
Recently my cable company opened up On-Demand to show Game of Thrones to hook people so they would then pony up the money for HBO. I happened to be really sick that week and I watched two seasons of Game of Thrones in three days. Awesome! Engrossing! Fascinating characters, snappy dialog, plots thick with intrigue! Damn you, cable company, I got HOOKED!
I posted on Facebook, hoping to find someone with HBO who was also hooked so I could invite myself over to watch every week. I planned on offering my brownies as bribes (I’ll bring delicious brownies if you let me come watch…). But alas, no response. Did I cave? NO.
Because, I READ. Yes, folks, before there was the HBO series, there were books, by the same author, with the same story line and the same characters. Imagine that! I was jonesing to find out what happened to Tyrion and Arya and Dany, so I pulled out my Kindle and, just like the ads on TV, had the book in my hand in 30 seconds. Oh joy!
I started with the third book (A Storm of Swords), which picked up where the second season left off and started racing through the chapters. The third book in the series introduces a few new characters, but is set mainly in the same places as the first two seasons, so I easily picked up the narrative thread and devoured the book. Still recovering from the illness, I dragged myself home from work, crawled into bed, and went off to Westeros.
From my recent Advanced Writing Workshop (shout out to Linda Watanabe McFerrin), I admired the way each chapter is it’s own short story, with an intriguing start (“The invitation seemed innocent enough, but every time Sansa read it her tummy tightened into a knot.” “He woke to the creak of old iron hinges.”) and bang-up finish. Then you jump to another character in another corner of the universe and the first line is so intriguing you get sucked in again. Great writing, great technique. Very hard to put down.
I must say, however, that I’m glad I started with the HBO series. There are a LOT of characters and having seen actors in the roles, it made it a lot easier to keep them straight. I finished the Storm of Swords in a week (I read freakishly fast. According to the Kindle, it’s print length is 1216 pages.) No problem! Back to the Kindle store and in another 30 seconds, A Feast for Crows is available for my reading pleasure.
I jumped in eagerly, but started getting bogged down. This book introduced a lot of new characters, and by introduced, I mean described them, explained where they were from and the entire history surrounding their tiny part of the world, sometimes going back centuries. And religions! Fire (“the night is dark and full of terrors”), Water (the drowned men), the Old Gods (trees), the New Gods (The Seven), then the holy place where Arya finds herself where all gods are One. Some of my favorite characters became minor actors while these new characters took center stage. We followed Brienne, the Maid of Tarth on her ill-fated search for Sansa Stark, which was by-and-large pretty boring. George (R. R. Martin) is really, really into details in this book. Or maybe it’s just the slew of new characters. The plot stops at the 91% mark, and the remaining 9% is list upon list of characters, separated by House, with info about the houses thoughtfully provided. Still, I slogged through and followed the plot lines, hoping that more Tyrion and Arya and Dany would appear. But no, just a lot of Brienne, Jon at the Wall, Bran being carried by Hordor, and Jamie Lannister, whose golden luster is wearing off.
Wanting to find out What Happens Next, I went back to the Kindle store and got A Dance with Dragons, thinking that Dany would finally get to riding her dragons, and THEN, boy, some interesting stuff was going to pop! But alas, a lot of this book was also full of boring details, and I found myself paging quickly through most of the book without reading. A whole NEW set of characters, three slaver cities, all with people and history, a long sea voyage for Tyrion (boring despite the storms), and Dany going about the boring task of ruling, when she should be out riding dragons. I sped through the book, skimming to get the gist of the plot line, and was disappointed that nothing was resolved at the end.
A trip to Google assured me that the sixth novel in the series will be out this summer. I’m hoping that there’s a lot fewer new characters (we have enough history already), a lot fewer descriptions of traveling (boring) and a lot more plot (pretty please). George has promised two battles, one North by the Wall and one South in the slaver cities.
Even with the overload, I’m anxious to find out what happens. These are really fascination books, well written and take me to a place I’ve never been. I feel the cold at the wall. I feel dirty and cold when the characters ride through the rain.
But what I really want for Dany to take her dragons to the Wall and waste all the Others with their fire. Alas, it looks like that is going to be a good 2,500 pages away.
* * *
May 2nd, 2013
I was surprised to see just how many Kindle ebooks are on sale today. Amazon’s special “Daily Deal” page used to offer a discount on just one ebook each day, but now there’s dozens of ebooks on sale. The regular daily deal now includes four different ebooks — including one for teens, one science fiction ebook, and one romance. But Amazon’s also letting you browse through even more discounted ebooks, grouping them into categories like romance, science fiction, and even Star Wars graphic novels.
There’s one set of discounts that’s only available for the next four days. “Now through May 5, save up to 87% on top-rated Kindle religion and spirituality books,” Amazon announces on the page. (“From Christian fiction to everyday Zen wisdom, these books will challenge and satisfy the hungry spirits of book lovers.”) I wasn’t sure what to expect in this section, but there’s a surprising variety of subjects, including a best-selling biography about Buddha that was written by Deepak Chopra.
And one set of discounts isn’t even advertised on the “Daily Deals” page — a special sale on science fiction books. I’d signed up for Amazon’s promotional “Kindle Delivers” emails, and this morning they reminded me that they’re offering 50% off on 35 different science fiction books. For 99 cents, you can buy Oz Reimagined: Off to See the Emperor, a short story by Orson Scott Card — and Amazon’s selection of discounted science fiction ebooks also includes 14 more stories from the Oz Reimagined anthology.
The Great Zeppelin Heist of Oz
The Boy Detective of Oz: An Otherland Story
Lost Girls of Oz
One Flew Over the Rainbow
The Cobbler of Oz
Beyond the Naked Eye
A Tornado of Dorothys
City So Bright
The Veiled Shanghai
A Meeting in Oz
All these stories are also available as a 365-page collection for just $5.99 (which includes a foreword by Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked). I’m impressed by how much imagination went into the project, but there’s also 20 more fiction ebooks that have also been discounted in Amazon’s SciFi sale.
And there’s also a smaller section of nine discounted “International Thrillers” which isn’t linked from Amazon’s “Daily Deals” page. For a shortcut to second “secret deal”, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/CheapThrillers.
But Amazon’s “Daily Deal” page also reminds me that they’re not just discounting one Star Wars graphic novel — they’re discounting forty of them! It’s a popular series from Dark Horse Comics, which includes lines like the Clone Wars Adventures and The Old Republic, but also a series called Star Wars Adventures with some titles that sound like a lot of fun. (Like Chewbacca and the Slavers of the Shadowlands or Princess Leia and the Royal Ransom…) The color illustrations will look great on a Kindle Fire or one of Amazon’s Kindle apps, but you can also read these graphic novels on Amazon’s original black-and-white e-ink Kindles — and each one is just $3.99.
And there’s always more discounts towards the bottom of the Daily Deals. For example, there’s 20 romance titles which are all $3.99 or less. But don’t forget — if you visit the page tomorrow, the top of the page will always feature four new ebooks as that day’s Daily Deal. I always end up visiting that page several times a week — just to make sure I’m not missing a chance to buy my next ebook at a discount!
April 30th, 2013
I just finished reading The Wind in the Willows, a wonderful classic tale about the society of animals that lives along the riverbank — including a mole, a badger, a rat, and a toad. It’s available as a free e-book in Amazon’s Kindle store. But I want to share one of my favorite stories ever about a famous author — especially since his book left me smiling and full of a feeling like summer-time bliss. And it turns out the book has a fascinating history almost as good a story as the book itself.
Author Kenneth Grahame was the secretary of the Bank of England until the age of 49. He hadn’t written a work of fiction in 10 years, but based the book’s most memorable character, Mr. Toad, on his enthusiastic eight-year-old son, Alastair. The book would become a fondly-remembered classic, mixing its funny story with adult allegories celebrating the joy of springtime and the beauty of the great outdoors. “When I was very young…” remembered one reviewer on Amazon, “our school master used to read to us from Wind in the Willows. The stories had a magical quality and a few weeks ago, as a somewhat older person, I got to wondering whether they would still have that sense of enchantment that held us so captivated all those years ago.
“I was NOT disappointed….”
Later A. A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh, joked that “Reading these delicately lovely visions of childhood, you might have wondered that he could be mixed up with anything so unlovely as a bank; and it may be presumed that at the bank an equal surprise was felt that such a responsible official could be mixed up with beauty.” Grahame was in his mid-60s by the time Milne first published his first Pooh story, though Milne once wrote that “I feel sometimes that it was I who wrote it and recommended it to Kenneth Grahame.” Later, when Grahame was 70 years old, A. A. Milne adapted Grahame’s book into a stage play (called “Toad of Toad Hall”), and one night the two men even shared a theatre box together.
He sat there, an old man now, as eager as any child in the audience, and on the occasions (fortunately not too rare) when he could recognise his own words, his eyes caught his wife’s, and they smiled at each other, and seemed to be saying: ‘I wrote that’ — ‘Yes, dear, you wrote that,’ and they nodded happily at each other, and turned their eyes again to the stage.
Milne later wrote an introduction for the book, remembering that it “was not immediately the success which is should have been.” But he also remembers that almost instantly Grahame had attracted some impressive admirers. In 1909, in one of his last month’s in office, Theodore Roosevelt, the president of the United States, took time to write a personal letter in 1909 thanking Kenneth Grahame for his book. (“I felt I must give myself the pleasure of telling you how much we had all enjoyed your book…”) He’d been a bigger fan of Grahame’s earlier books at first, but wrote that “Mrs. Roosevelt and two of the boys, Kermit and Ted, all quite independently, got hold of The Wind in the Willows and took such a delight in it that I began to feel that I might have to revise my judgment.
“Then Mrs. Roosevelt read it aloud to the younger children, and I listened now and then. Now I have read it and reread it, and have come to accept the characters as old friends… Indeed, I feel about going to Africa very much as the seafaring rat did when he almost made the water rat wish to forsake everything and start wandering.”
Six weeks later, Roosevelt left office — and embarked on a safari of Africa.
Americans may remember that when Disneyland opened in the 1950s, one of its first rides (“Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”) was inspired by Disney’s cartoon version of Grahame’s book. But what’s less-known is the trouble that Walt Disney had in filming the story. It was intended to be one of his studios first animated movies, just four years after Snow White (their first feature-length cartoon), according to Wikipedia. Unfortunately, the story’s plot violated the Hays Code, the notorious film-production guidelines which covered all American movies.
In the book, Mr. Toad ultimately steals (and crashes) a motor car. And while he goes to jail, he escapes, and remains a misguided but sympathetic character throughout the story. “The sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin,” the Hays Code insisted. Disney’s version ultimately had to be re-written so that Mr. Toad was instead wrongfully framed of stealing the motor car.
Unfortunately, World War II then interrupted the film’s production (as many of Disney’s animators were drafted into the military), while also putting a strain on the studio’s finances. In the end, it took eight years until a shorter version of the cartoon was released instead, with Mr. Toad’s adventures bundled with the animated version of another classic story — The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
The seventh chapter of Grahame’s book — “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” — proved to be especially popular. It describes the mole and rat searching for a lost animal, and instead having an almost religious experience when, off in the woods, they hear the distant music of Pan. It was the favorite chapter of A. A. Milne’s wife, remembers his son Christopher, who wrote that she “read to me again and again with always, towards the end, the catch in the voice and the long pause to find her handkerchief and blow her nose…” And 60 years later, in 1967, the rock band Pink Floyd used its title as the name of their debut album.
But here’s the most lovely piece of trivia about the life of Kenneth Grahame. Apparently because of the popularity of his children’s book’s, Grahame was eventually able to retire to the countryside by the River Thames.
And he was finally able to enjoy the idyllic county life that he’d described so lovingly for his own characters.
Visit tinyurl.com/TheWindInTheWillows for
the free e-book version
or click here
April 28th, 2013
The New York Times ran a fascinating profile of David Blum, the editor of Amazon’s “Kindle Singles” store. But along the way, they also took a look at the whole phenomenon of Singles — and what it means for the future of books. Amazon has sold nearly 5 million Kindle singles over the last 27 months, according to the article about Blum, who tells the newspaper that “Every day I become more obsessed with how brilliant the concept is…” But it’s got me wondering just how popular the Kindle Singles really are…
Blum tells the newspaper he’s now receiving more than 1,000 unsolicited manuscripts each month, from which he “cherry-picks” the best ones (and helps select their cover artwork). There’s also a gushy sentence where the Times writes that Amazon’s Singles store is “helping to promote a renaissance of novella-length journalism and fiction.” But I like how they ultimately identified Kindle Singles as “a small, in-house publishing brand – analogous to a grocery store that makes an in-house brand of salsa to compete with other manufacturers.” They make the point that Amazon is trying to establish its own publishing imprint partly because traditional bookstores are refusing to carry Amazon’s printed books.
I just assumed Amazon was selling the Kindle Singles because it gave them a way to sell ebooks at a cheaper price. But apparently authors like them too, because they get to keep 70% of the money the Singles earn. “The idea that writers would participate in the publishing model is just very bold,” Blum tells The New York Times proudly. Yet it’s all happening against the backdrop of a massive struggle-to-the-death in the larger publishing industry.
“With magazines folding or shrinking because of financial pressures, long-form storytelling has few places to flourish,” the Times reports, adding that along with some other digital publishers, Amazon “has leapt firmly into that void…” They’ve published Kindle Singles by best-selling authors like Stephen King, Susan Orlean, and Lee Child, and this article intrigued me for two reasons. First, I hadn’t thought about how “Kindle Singles” fit into the larger publishing industry. But secondly, the Times was actually able to dig up some real numbers about just how many Singles Amazon was selling!
Yes, they’ve sold 5 million Kindle Singles since they launched the program back in January of 2011 (which breaks down to 185,000 Kindle Singles a month, or just 6,000 a day). But what makes this more interesting is that Amazon has only published a total of 345 Kindle Singles. That means each one has sold an average of less than 14,500 copies. And Amazon confides to the Times that in fact, more than 245 of those 345 Kindles Singles have actually sold less than 10,000 copies.
This suggests that the remaining 100 were unusually popular — which seems to be the case. Amazingly, 5% of the 5 million sales all came from just one Kindle Single — Second Son by author Lee Child. (It was a 40-page story about Jack Reacher, the character from his best-selling series of action novels, set when Reacher was just 13 years old.) According to the Times, Amazon sold more than 250,000 copies of just that one Kindle Single.
Amazon also tells the newspaper that they’ve had 28 Kindle Singles which sold more than 50,000 copies. Doing some quick math, that leaves 72 Kindle Singles which sold between 10,000 and 50,000 copies. (And 245 — about 71% of the total — sold fewer than 9,999 copies). Still, writer Mishka Shubaly was able to publish one of the best-selling Kindle Singles ever — a “mini-memoir” titled The Long Run which according to Amazon is about “his transformation from alcoholic drug abuser to sober ultrarunner.” The author tells the Times that he’s currently living off the money that he’s earned from his Kindle Singles. And I like what a rival publishing house told the Times about Amazon’s program. “They actually make a concerted effort to find something great…”
Ironically, just as I was reading the article, Amazon sent me a promotional e-mail about their Kindle Singles. (“Nothing tastes better than a bite-sized piece of writing, and these best-selling Kindle Singles offer high-quality writing meant to educate, entertain, excite, and inform.”) Amazon’s e-mail ended with a dare I’m used to hearing about potato chips — “We bet you can’t read just one.”
And I have to admit that I’m getting curious what all the excitement is about…
April 25th, 2013
Amazon’s exploring a new technology, according to a new article by Business Week. It will send content to your TV screen, streaming the same movies and TV shows that you watch on your Kindle Fire. But what’s really interesting is it’s being developed in a California research facility known as Lab126. It’s the same lab that developed Amazon’s Kindle — and it’s got me wondering if someday, we’ll be seeing ebooks on our television screen!
In the article, one venture capitalist also raised another interesting possibility: maybe Amazon’s set-top box could also display the video from the Kindle Fire apps Amazon’s selling in their Android app store. Imagine playing Temple Run or Angry Birds on a wide-screen TV. “They have a ton of content,” the venture capitalist tells Business Week, plus “an existing billing relationship with millions of users, an existing Android app marketplace that could be leveraged on the box, a reputation for solid hardware products and a terrific channel through which to promote the product…” And if Amazon is displaying all digital content on the box, it’d also be easy to stretch out the text from your Kindle ebooks so they fit on the screen.
Business Week suggested that “Kindle TV” was the obvious name for Amazon’s product, and they interviewed three different people who were “familiar with the project”. Amazon themselves refused to comment, and did not approve any of the interviews — but the article notes that Amazon has been building up its library of video content. Besides securing the exclusive online rights to popular TV shows “Downton Abbey”, Amazon’s obviously been working hard to create their own original TV shows, which they’re currently broadcasting online. (See tinyurl.com/WatchAmazonTV ) Monday Amazon even bragged that the most-watched TV shows in their Instant Video store this weekend were these “Amazon Originals” — which claimed 8 of the top 10 spots!
There’s a funny story about Lab126, the facility where Amazon is reportedly developing their new set-top box. “[T]here was never a Lab125 or a Lab124…” remembers Jason Merkoski. In his recently-released memoir about the launch of the Kindle, he calls the name of the facility a “geeky in-joke” by the founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. “The ’126′ part stems from the fact that ‘A’ is the first letter of the alphabet and ‘Z’ is the 26th, a techno-geeky homage to the ‘A to Z’ development center!”
But Amazon’s newest project will have some highly-experienced people on their team, according to Business Week, including a former top engineer from TiVo and a former hardware architect from ReplayTV (one of the first companies in Silicon Valley to release a DVR). Ultimately Amazon’s new set-top box will compete with Apple TV, the Roku, and even the video capabilities that are built into the Playstation 3 and Xbox, so it’s a competition with some very high stakes. Business Week suggested that “Kindle TV” was the obvious name for the product, but I still remember the slogan that MTV used when they were trying to earn a place on cable TV services. So maybe Amazon should just replace the M with an A, and hope that their customers think it’s just as catchy in the 21st century.
“I want my A-TV.”
April 24th, 2013
Amazon’s been offering videos through an online store that you can watch on your Kindle Fire (or in a web browser, or even in an Amazon video app). The service launched in 2006, but Friday Amazon took a big step in a new direction. They released 14 new TV shows which were all created by Amazon. The first episode of each show is available for free in the Kindle Fire’s video store, and online at a special “Amazon Originals” web site.
“You decide which shows become a series,” Amazon promises on their web site. There’s eight different original comedies, including one from the Onion News Network, plus an intriguing new comedy called Browsers, created by David Javerbaum, a writer for Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. His show follows a group of interns at a daily news show called The Daily Gush, and it’s directed by Don Scardino, who also directs another popular TV show that’s set behind-the-scenes at a comedy show: 30 Rock. I’m impressed that for the show, Amazon got an actress I’ve actually heard of — Bebe Neuwirth — and there’s even some hip songs scattered throughout Browsers episodes. (The show’s trailer describes it as a “streaming workplace comedy musical”.)
There’s also a new comedy starring John Goodman, and written by Garry Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip. It’s called Alpha House, and it follows four Senators in Washington D.C. who all end up living together in the same rented house. A disclaimer in front of the first episode warns that it contains graphic language and content that “may not be suitable for all audiences,” but the photography is really good, and I laughed out loud at John Goodman’s first scene, where he wakes up one of his roommates — played by Bill Murray — to ask him about the police cars and television news cameras that are swarming outside their apartment. “Hey Vern, were you by any chance scheduled to turn yourself in to the Department of Justice today?” Goodman asks — and the oversleeping Senator responds with a long stream of anguished profanities…
Amazon’s original TV shows also include two new animated series. Dark Minions is written by two actors from The Big Bang Theory — Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie — and it’s a comedy about two slackers who just happen to work on an intergalactic warship. (The show’s tagline is “Rules, reports, a Galactic Overlord… just another day at the office.”) And another animated original show, Supanatural, follows “two outspoken divas who are humanity’s last line of defense against the supernatural, when they’re not working at the mall,” according to the description at Amazon. It’s co-produced by Kristen Schaal, a commentator on The Daily Show, and a quote from the first episode suggests it’ll be delivering some very unusual plots. (“It’s not just an ancient doomsday artifact, it’s a hater. That’s why it must be destroyed.”)
There’s a total of eight new comedies, including one set in Silicon Valley, where according to ambitious app developer, “investors are buying napkin sketches from high school drop-outs”. (I like that Amazon’s creating a show that’s about new technologies — or at least, the people who try to build them, with a preview that teased “These aren’t alpha males, they’re betas…the little guy with the big idea.”) There’s also another comedy which follows the lives of teachers with a very clever title — Those That Can’t. And believe it or not, the last comedy is a continuation of the 2009 movie Zombieland, which Wikipedia points out was America’s top-grossing zombie comedy of all-time.
Amazon’s also released six different TV shows for children, most of which seem to be animated. But some of them seem use Pixar-style computer animation, like Tumbleleaf which follows the magical life of a character named Fig the Fox. I have to admit I was intrigued by Positively Ozitively, which promises new adventures in the land of Oz. And One of the creators of Blue’s Clues has created a new show for Amazon called Creative Galaxy, while another Blues Clues creator teamed up with a producer from Arthur and Curious George to create an educational mystery show called Sara Solves It!
There’s just two live-action childrens show — Annebots — about a little girl who builds three robots in the back of her dad’s junk yard, in a show that “aims to introduce kids to science and technology in a fun, new way.” But there’s also a new one from the Jim Henson Company which is using muppet-like puppets, called Teeny Tiny Dogs. It’s preview is fascinating, promising that the show taps into the latest research on educating children, to create a show teaching the essential life skills for happiness. Its first episode is 12 minutes long, offering a “work in progress” glimpse at what the series would look like, mixing footage of puppets with some animated place-holders for what the final scenes will eventually look like. But it’s really fun to see their puppet doing all the things that real dogs do, and the overall tone of the show looks very sweet.
So now besides Kindle ebooks, Amazon’s also offering you TV shows!
April 22nd, 2013
I love children’s picture books — especially the classic, old-fashioned ones with their big, grand illustrations. (Maybe it’s what we think of when we think of a book, in some ways, because it reminds us of the first books we ever read as a child.) So I was really excited when the Kindle actually rescued four of my favorite children’s books from their out-of-print status. And then this week, the granddaughter of their original author/illustrator even agreed to do an interview!
“You reviewed a few of my grandfather, Robert Bright’s books in the past,” read her mysterious e-mail. “It was so wonderful to know that the books are still loved…” Now Sara Ruffin is reviving her grandfather’s books, both in print and in digital editions, and to do it she’s launched her own publishing company, which is selling a lovely print edition of her grandfather’s very first children’s book, The Travels of Ching, originally published in 1943. But because of the low cost of publishing on the Kindle, she was also even able to release digital Kindle editions for four more of her grandfather’s books — including two about Georgie the Ghost!
“Kindle is indeed helping to keep Georgie in circulation!” she told me this morning, adding “I love that about this technology. It seems this must be true for so many writers and illustrators. I have this belief that electronic books will complement the physical book.
“I hope, anyway…”
It seems to be true, because I’d first discovered Robert Bright through a hardcover edition at my local public library of a delightful book he wrote and illustrated about Georgie the Ghost. Sara remembers that originally, her grandfather’s idea for the Georgie books “started when my mother and my uncle [then small children] were caught peering under the bed one evening in Laguna Beach in 1941. They were looking for the little ghost that lived in the house – they weren’t scared at all, only extremely curious!” And nearly 70 years later, that book (and a sequel, Georgie’s Halloween) are now available again on the Kindle!
For a shortcut, just point your web browser to…
Georgie was the first in a 13-book series about the ghost – and I liked Sara’s answer about what made her grandfather’s books so popular. “I think my grandfather wrote and illustrated his books for children,” she wrote. “Sometimes children’s book authors write for adults as well as children but from what I have been told, Bobby had only children in mind when he created his books.” Bright ultimately shared this imaginative approach in more than 20 children’s picture books over the next 40 years. “The drawings are simple and direct and humorous,” Sara explains. “I don’t think he felt he needed to ‘scream’ at children with lots of color nor did he patronize them with simple forms.”
“The drawings are full of detail and each time you read his books you discover a wonderful new element, like a little mouse in the corner or a funny poster on the wall, so the illustrations always feels fresh.”
Georgie’s Halloween was always one of my favorites, because the illustrations are colored with orange and black, giving them a special holiday feeling. (“Bright really outdoes himself with this book’s illustrations,” I wrote in my review, praising the way that light and shadows were suggested in the scenes with moonlight or a night-time party.) All the white space on the page seemed to become the gleam of moonlight on Halloween. And the dark lines turn into stark and shadowy highlights — complemented by the orange in the children’s costumes – so I’m really looking forward to reading its Kindle edition in color on my Kindle Fire!
Of course, there’s also a Kindle edition of the first book in the series, Georgie the Ghost, where we first meet the shy, magical character who hides in Mr. and Mrs Whittaker’s attic. But you can also buy Kindle editions now for two fun picture books that Bright wrote about children and animals — My Hopping Bunny and Me and the Bears. Amazon’s created a web page listing all the picture books written by Robert Bright — but unfortunately, they’ve all since gone out of print.
That’s why it’s inspiring to see that his granddaughter is keeping the books alive – with a little help from the Kindle!
Browse Amazon’s selection of Robert Bright’s ebooks at…
April 19th, 2013
I love stories like this. A 33-year-old social worker in rural East Texas — working 11-hour days — finds the time to write her first amateur novel about first love, and self-publishes it in Amazon’s Kindle store. “I was just writing it for fun,” Colleen Hoover later told the Associated Press. She’d published the book and a quick sequel in January of 2012, and “By June, both of her books hit Amazon’s Kindle top 100 best-seller list.
“By July, both were on The New York Times best-seller list for e-books. Soon after, they were picked up by Atria Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint. By fall, she had sold the movie rights…”
Colleen had been living in a mobile home for seven years when she started to write, along with her husband and three kids. (In the summer, the temperature never dropped below 90 degrees, according to a post on her blog.) That June, she wrote “It’s surreal. Seven months ago, we were struggling to make ends meet.” But her ebook sales provided enough money to move herself and her family into “a real house,” which they’re renting until they finish building a home of their own. “[T]his post may be a bit personal,” Colleen writes, “but I don’t really care. I just want you all to know what a difference you’ve made in my life….”
Colleen’s first ebook was a novel called Slammed, and it opens with funny stories about growing up in a crazy family, only to lead to a story with “all the magic and confusion of first love,” according to the book’s description on Amazon. (“Not long after a heart-stopping first date during which each recognizes something profound and familiar in the other, they are slammed to the core when a shocking discovery brings their new relationship to a sudden halt…”) That book begged for a sequel, which Colleen published in February of 2012 , titled Point of Retreat. (“It will require something truly extraordinary to keep this couple together…”) But her story also offers hints about the future of the ebook publishing industry.
The story of her success is preserved in a wonderful series of blog posts where Colleen shares the surprise as her self-published ebooks start passing higher and higher milestones. (“5,000 reviews? Holy crap!”) Colleen had actually given up on finding a publisher for her books — more than six years earlier. In fact, there’s a remarkable story buried deep in Colleen’s blog. Her mother didn’t have a computer, so Colleen actually printed out her posts from a blog on MySpace, and delivered the hard copies to her mother. Going through them now, nearly seven years later, she discovered one that she’d written in 2006 in which she announces that she’s giving up on her dream of ever becoming a famous author!
Colleen had actually researched the publishing industry in 2006, and “The time spent writing and editing and trying to sell your book to a publisher and the actual money you make working on all of this calculates to earning about .50 cents a day for an average writer.” But 17 months later, Amazon released their first Kindle — and suddenly aspiring authors had a new way to find their own audiences. “Good thing I didn’t listen to myself,” Colleen wrote on her blog this February, adding “It also says a helluva lot about how much the publishing industry has changed.”
She’s still writing new books, and will be releasing two more novels over the next month. (This Girl on April 30th and Losing Hope on July 9th.) And last week she announced she’d signed a new two-book deal with Atria Books for two novels to be released in 2014. The first one will be Maybe Someday, an adult contemporary romance, and the second one, Ugly Love falls into a category(which she describes as “OH MY DEAR GOD! COLLEEN IS GOING TO HELL FOR WRITING THIS!”
“So yeah, this should be FUN…!”
April 17th, 2013
I just discovered several free comic books in Amazon’s Kindle Store. D.C. Comics is giving away a free issue of Superman by John Byrne — a “famous first” issue from 1987, released as issue #1 when the publisher “re-booted” all the story lines in their comics. But there’s also some “special preview” editions of several comics in the Kindle Store, and Amazon’s also giving away a free comic book of their own, a supernatural “horror” comic that’s set during the Civil War. Plus, Amazon’s also just announced a new tool that will let you draw your own comic books for the Kindle!
For shortcuts, just point your web browser to:
Amazon’s comic book is called Blackburn Burrow, and they’ve released four free issues since it first launched in September. (It’s about a reknowned fighter of the supernatural, who has to confront new rumors about the walking dead…) But in an interesting move, Amazon’s letting the readers pick the plot twists! “Each release will be accompanied by a poll…that encourages readers to give feedback and provide comments,” explains the comic’s web site.
I wondered if there’d be any more free comics in the Kindle Store besides Superman #1 and Blackburn Burrow — and that’s when I discovered that the comic book publishers were way ahead of me. D.C. Comics now releases special “preview editions” of their hot new releases. For example, for the new Batman: Earth One series, they’ve released a free 15-page sampler (which also includes 6 more pages from Batman Volume 1: The Court of Owls.) And D.C. has also begun releasing a regular free comic book that includes lots of samples from around their whole “universe” of characters. It’s called “D.C. Comic Digital Sneak Peeks”, and several issues have made it into the top 20 on Amazon’s list of the best-selling free comic books…
Amazon’s actually started a new list of the top 100 best-selling free Kindle comic books. For an easy-to-remember shortcut, just point your browser to:
But you could be the author of the Kindle’s next best-selling comic book — at least, according to a special announcement that Amazon made last week. Their “Kindle Publishing Team” snuck into Amazon’s online forum for digital publishers, and announced the surprise launch of the Kindle Comic Creator, “a free tool for authors & publishers to turn their comics, graphic novels and manga into great looking Kindle books.” It includes all the layout tools you’d need for a comic book, including two-space spreads and the ability to import artwork from the standard image file formats (like .jpg, .png, .tiff and .ppm), and once a self-published artist/author is satisfied with their comic, Amazon’s inviting them to “share their story with millions of Amazon customers worldwide.”
Wouldn’t it be great if an undiscovered amateur fiction writer ended up creating the next great superhero?
April 15th, 2013
If you’re shopping for a new Kindle Fire tablet, I’ve just discovered some great new ways to save money. For example, if you’re just shopping for a basic Kindle Fire tablet, you can buy one now from Amazon for just $134. It’s a refurbished Kindle Fire, a previously-owned device that Amazon promises has been “refurbished, tested, and certified to look and work like new.” That’s a savings of $25 — and Amazon’s also offering similar discounts on some of their other Kindle Fire tablets!
This means that you can also save $30 on the high-definition versions of Amazon’s 7-inchKindle Fire tablets. A refurbished model now costs just $169 — a nice discount from its usual price of $199. These tablets come with 16-gigabytes of storage space, but Amazon’s also offering the same discount on the tablets with more storage. For $199, you can buy the 32-gigabyte version of a refurbished Kindle Fire HD tablet — though the new ones would normally cost you $229!
That may actually feel like a $50 savings to some people, because up until this month, Amazon was charging $249 for the 32-gigabyte version of their Kindle Fire HD tablets. But sometime in April, they quietly discounted its price to just $229. Now they’ve discounted that another $30 if you’ll purchase a refurbished version. And if you opt for the 16-gigabyte drive instead, you’ll save $80 over what the 32-gigabyte version would’ve cost you in March!
I was hoping Amazon would also discount some of their black-and-white, e-ink Kindles. But when I checked this morning, they were still on sale at their regular price. In a way, that makes these refurbished tablets seem that much more special. The only thing better than a multimedia Kindle is one that Amazon sold you at a big discount!
“Every Certified Refurbished Kindle is backed by a full one-year limited warranty,” Amazon explains, “just like a brand-new Kindle.” (Before shipping them to customers, Amazon performs a full diagnostic test, install the latest software, give the devices a thorough cleaning, and even re-package them in a new box.) It even comes with a free month of Amazon Prime, so you can watch thousands of movies and TV shows in Amazon’s Instant Video library without having to pay for them individually. Amazon Prime also qualifies you for a discount on faster shipping of any products you purchase from Amazon — but it also earns you some fun Kindle freebies, like the ability to access new books for free in the “Kindle Owner’s Lending Library”!
And as a last selling point, Amazon’s even created a new web page where they compare their Kindle Fire tablets to Applet’s iPad mini. The page’s slogan…
“Don’t you love getting more for less?”