December 12th, 2013
Amazon has now released 18 different free games for their black-and-white e-ink Kindles, and in 2012 they even released two that were designed especially for the holiday season! “We were going to wait to start talking about the holidays, but this new free game for Kindle is getting us in the spirit a little early,” read one announcement on the Kindle’s page on Facebook. “Check it out for yourself, but don’t blame us if you suddenly get the urge to start stringing lights and singing carols!”
And there’s also a free Christmas app for the Kindle Fire!
Their new game for the black-and-white, e-ink Kindles was “Picture Perfect Holiday Puzzles,” and within four hours of the announcement, it had already earned 208 “Like” votes and drawn 35 enthusiastic comments. (Like the woman in Minnesota who posted “OMG! OMG! OMG! This is my all time FAVORITE Kindle game, I’ve been waiting for a Part 2 forever!! YESSSS!!!!!!!”) It was a “sequel” to a free game Amazon released called simply “Picture Perfect Puzzles”. In both those games, users try to form a picture by darkening all the correct squares in a grid, making logical deductions from clues showing the number of squares that need darkening in each row and column. But for the second “holiday” version, Amazon created 35 more puzzles, each one with a fun holiday theme. (The puzzles were grouped into six categories: Winter Begins, Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Continues, Kwanzaa, and New Years.)
And would you like to write to Santa Claus? There’s an app for that — at least, if you own a Kindle Fire tablet (or an iPad). Last Christmas, Amazon announced a free Santa app to create holidays wish lists, “for children and their parents…to share with friends, family and Mr. Claus.” They’ve identified more than half a million popular “kid-friendly” items available on Amazon, and according to the director of Amazon Mobile, the apps makes it “fun, easy and intuitive for kids to find exactly what they want.” Just point your browser to amazon.com/santa_app
There’s books, of course, but also toys, games, video games, music, and even movies and TV shows — and you can browse the individual categories or search for specific items. By secretly tracking which gifts have been purchased, it can helip different relatives avoid buying the same gift, and Amazon says the app offers “a great way for parents to spend some quality time with their kids…”
And, “to help make certain there’s a smile Christmas morning.”
December 10th, 2013
Every month Amazon discounts over 100 Kindle ebooks to just $3.99 or less. And this month, they’ve put together an unusually good selection of ebooks — many priced at just $1.99. But in addition, Amazon’s also introducing a brand new kind of discount. Now you can also purchase the audiobook edition of many of these ebooks for just $3.99. Then you can switch instantly between the written and spoken versions of the ebook when you’re reading on a Kindle Fire tablet (or a smartphone)!
Here’s some of the most interesting deals…
Stardust by Neil Gaiman ($1.99)
Set in the 19th-century, Neil Gaiman’s 1998 novel is “an utterly charming fairy tale in the tradition of The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story,, ” according to the book’s description at Amazon. A young man has to cross the wall that separates his British town from the magical land of the faeries, “in pursuit of love and the utterly impossible. ” This story was originally published as a graphic novel with some lavish illustrations, but even this text-only version still fills 368 pages. And best of all, for another $3.49 you can also get the audiobook version — that’s read by Neil Gaiman himself!
Fire in the Hole by Elmore Leonard ($1.99)
There’s nine great short stories in this collection from the master of crime fiction — and each one features a female protagonist. (It’s original title was “When the Women Come Out To Dance”…) “These nine stories are the great Elmore Leonard at his vivid, hilarious, and unfailingly human best,” reads the book’s description at Amazon, noting how this collection “once again illustrates how the line between the law and the lawbreakers is not as firm as we might think.” It’s been 16 weeks since writer Elmore Leonard died at the age of 87, and this book is now sporting a new cover to highlight its special distinction. Its title story became the basis for the TV series “Justified” on the FX network — now heading into its fourth season — and tells the story of how U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens deals with an old friend who’s now living outside of the law!
In One Person by John Irving ($1.99)
John Irving wrote some of the most famous novels of the last 50 years — everything from The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire to The Cider-House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. But this time he’s written a more poltical story, according to the book’s description on Amazon, which calls it “precisely the kind of astonishing alchemy we associate with a John Irving novel… brilliant, political, provocative, tragic, and funny!” And for another $3.95, you can purchase the audiobook edition, and hear the entire book — all 488 pages — read by a professional narrator.
Endless Night by Agatha Christie ($1.99)
This isn’t just any Agatha Christie mystery. ” It was one of her favourites of her own works ,” according to Wikipedia, “and received some of the warmest critical notices of her career upon publication.” A young man wandering “Gipsy’s Acre” — a stretch of rustic land said to be cursed — meets and falls in love with an attractive American woman. But before long he’s confronting a gauntlet of eccentric characters, in an unusual Agatha Christie mystery that one Amazon reviewer called “one of the most original books she’s written… A few very well placed surprises catch you off your guard!”
Remember, for a shortcut, just point your browser to
December 5th, 2013
It’s a tradition — every year Amazon gives away free .mp3 music files with Christmas songs! Most Kindles can play music files, so it’s a fun way to enjoy some holiday spirit while you’re reading your ebooks. “Starting December 1, every 5 days we’re rolling out 5 new free holiday songs for your collection,” Amazon explains on their holiday web page. And that’s just one way to get free (and discounted) Christmas music files for your Kindle.
There’s also several other free Christmas songs in Amazon’s music store — including a brand new song by “Straight No Chaser”. The acapella college singing group re-united in 2008 after suddenly becoming internet sensations for their funny version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” (mixed with “The Dreidel Song” and “Africa”). It was recorded in 1998, but 10 years later it landed them a real recording contract with Atlantic Records. And this year, they’re giving away a free song in Amazon’s music store with their own funny lyrics for a song from “The Nutcracker”.
My holiday spirit might explode!
Of course, there is no place to park
We’re late, the theater’s in the dark
In no small feat
We find a seat
The show’s about to start…”
Their “12 Days of Christmas” is also bargain-priced in Amazon’s music store for just 69 cents. (And Jeff Foxworthy has recorded his own funny “redneck” version of same song — also available for just 69 cents.) But there’s also entire album of Christmas music that are available for the same price — bargain-priced for just 69 cents. It’s the album “Celtic Christmas”, which feature 20 different songs in the Celtic style. And if you want even more Christmas music, there’s also the album “100 Must-Have Christmas Masterpieces” for $1.99 — a massive collection of traditional Christmas carols (sung by groups like the Vienna Boys Choir and the Mormon Tabernacle).
In fact, Amazon’s created a special web page where you can find all the Christmas songs that have been discounted to just 69 cents — including some of the great holiday standards.
Bing Crosby – Do You Hear What I Hear?
Bruce Springsteen – Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
Brenda Lee - Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
Johnny Mathis – It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
The Kinks – Father Christmas
Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Judy Garland – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Jose Feliciano – Feliz Navidad
Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime
The Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick
Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby
Elvis Presley – Blue Christmas
Burl Ives – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Jimmy Durante – Frosty the Snowman
Spike Jones – All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth
Elmo & Patsy – Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Bing Crosby – Mele Kalikimaka (Single Version)
Burl Ives – Have a Holly Jolly Christmas
Dan Fogelberg - Same Old Lang Syne
Alvin & The Chipmunks – The Christmas Song
For a shortcut, just point your browser to
There’s nearly 200 Christmas songs discounted to just 69 cents — including several by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. If you’ve got a favorite Christmas song, see if Amazon’s got it on sale. They’ve got everything from Burl Ives’ “Have A Holly Jolly Christmas” to the fast fast, rock version of the Chipmunks’ Christmas song from their first movie in 2007!
There’s also some great deals on albums of Christmas music:
- Several classic celebrity records available as digital downloads for just $3.99.
Rod Stewart: Merry Christmas, Baby
John Denver: The Classic Christmas Album
The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas
- For $3.99 you can also get Verve Presents: The Very Best of Christmas Jazz, which includes Mel Torme’s “Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”, plus other songs by some great jazz legends, including Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, and Ella Fitzgerald.
- Zooey Deschanel’s new group, “She & Him.” also has a Christmas record you can buy for just $5.99. (It’s called — what else? — “A Very She & Him Christmas”.) And through Saturday, their new album, “Volume 3,” is also bargain-priced at just $5.99.
- Some great celebrity Christmas albums are just $5.99
Jimmy Buffet, Christmas Island
Michael Buble, Christmas
Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas
Barbara Streisand, The Classic Christmas album (Just $5.00)
For a shortcut to Amazon’s free Christmas mp3s, go to
December 1st, 2013
Surprise! Just when you thought Amazon couldn’t discount any more proudcts, they pull out new $50 discounts on their high-definition Kindle Fire tablets. Today you can get a new Kindle Fire HD for just $119 — and a Kindle Fire HDX for just $179! Amazon snuck the deal online Sunday, billing it as an “Early Cyber Monday Deal” But the deal is scheduled to last through Monday, so here’s your chance to get a color, high-definition Kindle at a great place!
And now Amazon will even loan you the money to purchase those Kindles, at 0% interest for the first six months. They’re offering an Amazon-branded credit card which includes 6-month financing on any purchase over $149. “Interest will be charged to your account from the purchase date if the promotional balance is not paid in full within 6 months,” Amazon warns. But if your purchase is over $599, Amazon will even offer you 12 months of 0% interest!
It’s the total amount of order, not the cost of any one item — so if you buy the very cheapest Kindle Fire HD, you’ll still have to add another $31 to your order to qualify for the financing. And you can even make your purchase from one of the third-party sellers that uses Amazon as their storefront, and still get the 6-month financing with 0% interest. But watch out: the interest rate is 25.99%, so you won’t want to carry any balances for too long. Amazon is making this offer available only through the rest of December, and they’re sending one very clear message with both the zero-interest financing and the new Cyber Monday discounts.
This year, Amazon really wants you to buy a Kindle Fire HD…!
November 28th, 2013
Amazon’s offering a 30% discount on every book in their store! (“Take an extra 30% off any book offered by Amazon.com,” reads an announcement they’ve tacked onto every page in the store…) It’s just one of several special offers they’re offering for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which also include big savings on Kindles.
Amazon’s also offering special pricing on their Kindle Fire HD. The big 8.9-inch device (with a high-definition color screen) has been reduced to just $229. That’s what it’d normally cost just for the 7-inch version of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HDX. Amazon lowered the price when they added these tablets to their list of holiday gift suggestions.
Amazon’s also offering 30% discounts on their Kindle DX. WIth a 9.7-inch e-ink screen, it’s the largest Kindle available — and they’ve reduced its price to just $169. Currently you can also buy a used Kindle DX for just $133. This has always been my personal favorite Kindle — because the only thing better than an e-ink screen is a giant e-ink screen! :)
Of course, Amazon’s not the only one offering discounts this weekend. Best Buy’s web site will also let you purchase a Kindle for just $49. And while supplies last, Staples will sell you an original color Kindle Fire tablet for just $79. If you to go an Office Depot store, they’re currently selling the same model for just $139
So if you’re looking for a good deal this holiday, there’s some great prices on Amazon Kindles!
November 27th, 2013
Just in time for the holidays! D.C. Comics has teamed up with Amazon to offer eight different comic books on your Kindle for free! There’s Batman, Superman, and the Justice League — plus a comic book that’s based on The Vampire Diaries. The sale ends on Monday, December 2nd — so it’s a good time to snatch up some fun free Kindle ebooks for the Thanksgiving weekend!
Each of the free comic books is a recent first issue for a currently-published titled — and one of the most interesting new titles is Batman ’66. “Put on your go-go boots and get ready to ‘Batusi’ back to the Swingin’ ’60s,” reads its description at Amazon, “as DC Comics re-imagines the classic Batman TV series in comics form for the first time!” One reviewer noted that the characters were drawn to resemble the actors who’d played them on the 1960s TV show, and another said it brought back fond memories from their childhood. And one reviewer specifically applauded the retro storyline for being “a comic to read and not have to toss myself into anything too serious…”
For a more modern take on the Batman character, there’s Legends of the Dark Knight and Batman Beyond 2.0. And for Superman fans, there’s also a free first issue of Adventures of Superman, plus a comic book called Smallville Season 11. The title is a nod to fans of the TV show (which was actually cancelled in 2011 after it had just completed Season 10). And there’s a fascinating story about who could replace Superman in Justice League Beyond 2.0 (starring Green Lantern and Captain Marvel)!
Amazon’s quietly touting the sale on the pages of some other comic books in their Kindle store. (“Through December 2, download eight free books from DC Comics including Legends of the Dark Knight #1 and The Vampire Diaries #1.”) When the holidays roll around, I like to relax and forget about work and enjoy some of the same things I enjoyed as a kid.
And now thanks to this holiday weekend special, there’s eight free Kindle comic books to choose from!
November 22nd, 2013
Yes, it’s that once-a-year tradition, sharing this funny free ebook about turkeys — mine! It’s a fun short mystery that’s written entirely in rhyme, with 12 cartoon-y illustrations that tell the story of four turkeys on Thanksgiving Day waiting for the farmer’s axe. (“But one of the turkeys has a plan to escape!” read’s the book’s description at Amazon. “Can the farmer figure out which one? And can you?”)
It’s called “The Turkey Mystery Rhyme,” and it was a real labor of love. (For five days every November, I make it available for free in Amazon’s Kindle Store.) Over the years the ebook has even had some strange adventures of its own. The day after I published it, I’d discovered that my turkeys had snuck onto Amazon’s list of the best-selling children’s ebooks about animals – and stolen the #73 spot from a book about Curious George!
And my friends surprised me one year by insisting that we all read the whole ebook out loud on Thanksgiving Day. They’d connected their widescreen TV to their computer, so it was mirroring whatever appeared on its desktop, and then they’d pulled up Amazon’s Kindle app on that computer, and led it to The Turkey Mystery Rhyme. It was a great way to get some real reactions to the story, especially since most authors never get to actually be in the room while their ebook is being read! And then we all took turns reading the rhyming story out loud.
“For Thanksgiving, try this game. Find the guilty turkey’s name…”
I remember we had a teenager in the room, and his mother asked if he knew which turkey had launched the daring plan for escape. But that mother was a sharp cookie, and she challenged one of the book’s important fictional premises.
hungering for turkey meat,
In the farmer’s yard’s a spread
where Thanksgiving turkeys bred.
When the daylight brightly broke
all the farmer’s birds awoke.
And, since it’s a holiday,
all turkeys can talk today…
“What?!!” she said, to laughter from the room. “Since when can turkeys talk on Thanksgiving Day?”
“Everyone knows that,” I joked. “You’ve just never been on a farm…” And then we laughed some more, and continued reading…
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
November 19th, 2013
She’s the best-selling novelist of all time, according to Wikipedia. In fact, there’s now over four billion copies of Agatha Christie’s novels scattered around the world — and dozens of her books are now available on the Kindle. This month Amazon is offering big discounts on three of her most intriguing mysteries. And there’s at least one more Agatha Christie ebook that’s now available for free!
Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie ($2.99)
This is a Hercule Poirot mystery — one of 33 novels that Agatha Christie wrote about her famous French detective. He also appeared in 50 more of her short stories, but for the month of November, Amazon is discounting this full-length 320-page mystery. “Mystery writer Ariadne Oliver has been invited to a Hallowe’en party at Woodleigh Common,” according to the book’s description at Amazon — where inevitably, one of the guests is murdered. “[I]t retains all the trademarks of what make Christie’s intricately woven, delightfully detected mysteries so endearing and timeless,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon, calling it “quick-paced and filled with a cast of characters who seemingly all have something to gain, or hide!”
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie ($2.99)
Miss Marple is the detective for this mystery — another favorite Agatha Christie detective, who appeared in 20 different short stories. But there are just 12 full-length Miss Marple novels — and Murder at the Vicarage was the very first one. “[A] dead body in a clergyman’s study proves to Miss Marple that no place, holy or otherwise, is a sanctuary from homicide…” warns the book’s description at Amazon. There’s lots of twists in its 307 pages, warns one reviewer, and “The minute you think you have it figured out the author throws you a curve…!”
Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (Free!)
There at least one Christie novel which has actually fallen into the public domain. Secret Adversary opens on the Lusitania — a British mail ship that was sunk during World War I. “The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession,” Christie writes in an exciting prologue that opens the book, “and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed…” Christie introduces her some funny new “detectives” in this novel — two unemployed young men named Tommy and Tuppence — who “quite accidentally get sucked into an international mystery that reaches to the highest levels of British government,” according to one review on Amazon.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (99 cents!)
It’s Christie’s first published novel ever — and it’s also her first story about detective Hercule Poirot! (At a mysterious estate, a wealthy woman is poisoned shortly after drawing up a new will, and Poirot is asked to investigate.) I’ve seen public domain versions of this ebook available too, but currently it’s only available in the Kindle Store for 99 cents. According to one Amazon review, Christie only wrote this book because her sister dared her too. (“With his egg-shaped head and his well-groomed moustache, Poirot enters and soon becomes one of fiction’s best-loved detectives…”) And the reader also makes their first acquaintance with his sidekick Captain Arthur Hastings in this novel, who first appears “recovering from a war injury at the upper-class household known as Styles Court.” (Watch out! There’s going to be a murder!)
November 14th, 2013
Amazon’s gearing up for the big holiday shopping season — and they’ve just made two surprising new announcements.
Your Own Photos on Kindle Cases!
You can now upload your own favorite photo to Amazon, and they’ll make it into a case for your Kindle! You can also convert the photo into a Kindle skin — a thin, rubber wrap-around protector. And Amazon’s also got their own selection of designs to choose from, including illustrations of Snoopy and the other characters from Peanuts. Amazon’s press release promises they can even put images from Star Trek and other popular TV shows and movies onto your Kindle’s cover — and even characters from Breaking Bad!
Unfortunately, they’re only supporting Kindles from the last three years — as far back as the Kindle Touch, but not as far back as the fourth-generation “Kindle” (or the Kindle Keyboard…) But that still leaves a lot of Kindles that are now eligible for customer covers. “With this new service, we’re making it possible for customers to dream up virtually any design and seamlessly turn it into a Kindle cover — at no cost…” explained one Amazon Kindle executive. “We’re excited to bring this all-new technology to Kindle accessories and we can’t wait to see what customers come up with.”
This holiday season, some people may wind up receiving some very creative gifts! And Amazon’s also announced another new service that will make it even easier to finish your shopping…
Sunday Delivery of Packages!
I couldn’t believe it, but Los Angeles and New York City are now both getting packages delivered from Amazon on Sundays! And Amazon plans to expand the service to more cities in the next year, including Phoenix, New Orleans, Dallas, and Houston! “We’re excited that now every day is an Amazon delivery day…” announced Amazon’s vice president of worldwide operations and customer service. (It’s only available to members of Amazon’s Prime shipping program, which offers one year of free two-day shipping for a flat fee of $79 – and as a bonus, includes free access to Amazon’s online library of movies and TV shows on the web and with your Kindle Fire tablet)
To make this happen, Amazon’s teamed up with the U.S. Postal service. One business site pointed out that the post office could use the money, since traditional paper letters have been declining, now that more people communicate with e-mail. The post office actually beat out Federal Express for the right to deliver Amazon’s package, as well as U.P.S., but in the long run, the real winner may be Amazon. A business analyst at The Motley Fool points out that people who join Amazon’s Prime program ultimately use Amazon for the majority of their online shopping, and end up spending more than twice the amount spent by non-Prime members. In fact, on average prime members spend $1,200 a year on Amazon’s web site.
So it’s no wonder Amazon’s willing to try Sunday deliveries as a way to attract even more Prime customers. And The Motley Fool predicts that soon, Amazon may be offering Sunday delivery service to the entire country!
November 11th, 2013
For the next two days, Amazon is offering all their customers in the U.S. a $40 credit for “digital content” when you buy any new Kindle Fire. That’s $40 for ebooks, or any other digital content (like apps, music, movies, or TV shows). It’s almost like getting a Kindle Fire for $99 (since the cheapest model currently costs $139).
Just be sure to enter the code “Kindle40″ when you’re completing your purchase. And Amazon’s making it even easier to try out one of their new Kindle Fire HDX tablets. At the side of each Kindle’s web page, they’re now touting a 30-day “risk-free” trial. “If you’re not 100% satisfied, you can return your device in new condition within 30 days”, it explains. But if you read the fine print, Amazon will actually let you keep your Kindle for almost ninety days before returning it.
If you purchase a Kindle any time between November 1st and December 31st, Amazon will let you keep it all the way through January 31st, and still return it for a full refund (according to Amazon’s Returns web page). And it’s got another interesting policy I didn’t know about. Apparently you can always return a Kindle within 60 days of its purchase for an 80% refund. Basically, Amazon’s trying to make it as easy as possible to try out your new Kindle to see if you like it.
One Amazon customer even reports that Amazon’s $40 credit may be just the beginning. After chatting with a customer support rep at Amazon, she posted on the Kindle Boards forum that “they are planning several promotions over the next few weeks.” It makes sense that Amazon would want to encourage people to Kindle Fire tablets during the big holiday shopping season. It’s got me wondering what else they might offer us in the future that could be better than a $40 credit?
By the way, I found the $40 credit on a technology blog that’s called “Gotta Be Mobile,” and they noticed that there was one more thing to watch for. The $40 credit apparently expires in March of 2014. (So about three and a half months from this week). “March of next year is a ways off,” the blogger writes, “and most users could go through $40 worth of credit in a heart beat, but if you’re the kind of user who likes to save your credit until something good comes along, it’ll be important to keep that expiration date in mind.”
But if you’re already wondering if you should buy a new Kindle Fire, now Amazon is giving you one more reason to say yes!
November 8th, 2013
I love reading comic books on my Kindle. The colors look great on any of the Kindle Fire tablets, and you can read them in black in white on most of the newer Kindles, too. So I was delighted to see that Amazon’s giving away some new comic books for free, making it easy for people to give them a try. And one of the free comic books is the very first issue of MAD Magazine — plus a preview of a new comic based on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!
To find all the discounts, just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks . Towards the bottom of the page, Amazon’s Comic Book Store for the Kindle lets you select “Sort By Price: Low to High”. It’s fun to read the 1952 letter that appeared in the first issue of MAD Magazine. (“…in the next few moments, you will be one of the many who are deciding the fate of MAD all over the country.”) Each issue cost just 10 cents, and its first issue included parodies of horror movies and TV westerns.
You can also read the color versions of all these graphic novels on other devices by using one of Amazon’s Kindle app. (It’s even possible to read Kindle ebooks on a Nook, by installing Amazon’s Kindle app from the Google Play Store!) But it’s also kind of fun to read a story-with-pictures on a black-and-white e-ink Kindle. Thanks to Amazon’s arrangements with all the top publishers, including D.C. and Marvel, there’s a lot to choose from, and many full-length graphic novels have also been discounted to between $3 and $4!
Also free is the 25-page preview of Vertigo Comics adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” (“Delve into the dark mystery of the Vanger family, as disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to uncover the truth behind a teenage girl’s disappearance over forty years ago…”) At least one reviewer on Amazon said it was a great companion to the best-selling mystery trilogy, adding that “The artwork in it is amazing!” and giving it five stars. The full edition (for $9.99) was just published last year, so it’s relatively new — and they’re giving away 25 of its 152 pages free!
There’s also a funny free Thanksgiving comic that looks at Batman when he was a child — as part of D.C. Comics special series, Li’l Gotham. It’s one of two stories in D.C.’s “Halloween Comic Fest 2013″, a 22-page holiday give-away that’s a nice way to celebrate the season. “Every once you in a while you just want to see the citizens of Gotham in a new light,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon, “and that’s exactly what this book is all about.” And of course, they added that the artwork of the superheroes as trick-or-treating children “looked like fun to draw!”
Also free is the 22-page Batman comic Flashpoint — the first chapter of a longer Batman graphic novel. (“When the Joker kidnaps the children of the city’s District Attorney, the Batman takes the case,” reads its description at Amazon. “But the man under the mask may not be the Dark Knight we know!”) Amazon’s also promising that ten D.C. graphic novels featuring Batman for $3.03, including Batman & Robin: Born to Kill, The Dark Night: Knight Terrors, and Batman: The Court of Owls. I got the 144-page novel Catwoman: The Game for just $3.03, and the same discount is also available for Justice League: Origin, Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection, and Teen Titans: Its Our Right to Fight..
And Amazon’s also announced that they’ve discounted single issues of many classic comic books by Alan Moore to just 99 cents — including stories about The Watchmen and his original V for Vendetta.
But Marvel comics also has some graphic novels on sale, including the legendary Ultimate Comics: Wolverine vs Hulk, a 144-page graphic novel for just $1.99. Several more graphic novels are $3.82, like Spider-Man: Anti-Venom, X-Force: Sex and Violence, and Ant-Man & Wasp: Small World. There’s also discounts on graphic novels starring Iron Man, The Avengers, and Thor, though I don’t think the Kindle Store has any single issues available for Marvel Comics. But there’s another way to get free single-issue comics from both Marvel and D.C. if you have a Kindle Fire. Just install an app called Comixology, and there’s lots of free comic books to download from all the major publishers!
That’s a lot of comic books — but it’s a fun way to enjoy the weekend. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, it’s fun to curl up on the couch and avoid the chilly autumn weather, staying warm and cozy, and enjoying some colorful stories…
November 4th, 2013
Today only, you can buy a new Kindle on Amazon for just $59! And a Kindle Fire HD is just $118. Even a new Kindle Fire HDX will only cost you $195 today.
And Amazon’s offering the discounts for a surprising reason. They’re celebrating a new rule that now allows Kindles (and other electronic devices) to be used on an airplane, even during the take-off and landing. “Thank you, FAA” read a big announcement on the front page of Amazon today. They even included a link to the official press release on the web site for the Federal Aviation Administration. (“… the FAA has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices during all phases of flight, and is immediately providing the airlines with implementation guidance.”)
To claim your discount today, Amazon’s even created an appropriate promotional code: ThnksFAA. “To say thank you, we’re taking 15%,” Amazon’s announcement explains. “You can now use your Kindle from take-off through landing!” It’s a one-per-customer discount, and Amazon’s also announcing their standard “while supplies last” disclaimer. But it’s still a nice way to celebrate the new ability to read your Kindle through the entire duration of any flight.
“We’ve been fighting for our customers on this issue for years,” one Amazon executive announced in a press release, “and we are thrilled by the FAA’s recent decision.” He called the FAA’s decision “a big win” for customers, and noted that even though the new policy was just announced on Thursday, Delta Airlines and JetBlue have already implemented the new rules on their flights.
It’s been fun to see the reactions online. One technology web site joked that Amazon was celebrating “the best way it knows how…holding a sale!” And the Washington Post notes that at one point, Amazon actually loaded up an airplane with Kindles — all of them turned on — to drive home their point to the FAA that Kindles should be allowed to operate even during a plane’s take-off.
But my favorite story came from the Boston Globe, which shared stories from flight attendants about facing children with tears in their eyes who didn’t want to turn off their videos. And there’s even a story about TV star Alec Baldwin, who in 2011 wanted to keep playing the game “Words with Friends” on his tablet, who made so much noise about it that he was finally kicked off the plane! Ironically, Baldwin got the last laugh by appearing on Saturday Night Live later that month — by playing a pilot from the same airline who believed that the actor was in the right. Don’t phones interfere with the plane’s communications system, the parody newscaster asks the actor.
“Oh, you don’t believe that, do you…? ” he replies. “Would you really get on an airplane that flew 30,000 feet in the air if you thought one Kindle switch could take it down? C’mon, it’s just a cruel joke perpetrated by the airline industry.
“And we would’ve gotten away with it, but Alec Baldwin was just too smart for us….!
October 31st, 2013
I have a special holiday tradition. Each year on Halloween, I creep up on the Kindle Store, and take a peek at just how many zombie titles have crawled out into the marketplace. On Halloween night in 2011, there were 2,269 different Kindle ebooks with their word “zombie” in their title. But by 2012, that number had more than doubled, with 4,874 zombie ebooks there were now available on the Kindle. And this year? OMG!
Amazon’s Kindle store now has 8,052 zombie ebooks!
I’ve joked about the “rising zombie ebook invasion,” but the numbers really do show an unmistakeable trend. One Halloween, I noticed that one of the top 100 free ebooks in the Kindle Store was something called Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. But the real message may be that each Halloween, there’s more and more self-published authors who are writing zombie fiction. Even the Library of Congress only has 674 books with the word “zombie” in their title (up from 523 in 2011 and 601 in 2012). Oh my god, run everybody — Amazon’s Kindle store now has nearly 12 times as many zombies!!!
Even if they’re not real zombies, there’s something that’s almost viral about their popularity, suggesting that the Kindle store’s amateur authors are especially attracted to the zombie genre. Or are they? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the amateurs from the pros. Take a peek at the new titles, and you’ll be startled at just how many zombie ebooks there are. Don’t look now, but the living dead could be shambling up to your Kindle!
Here’s some of the stranger ebooks.
To be fair, “Texas Biker Zombies From Outer Space” is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, “intentionally designed to give the reader an interactive experience using the advantages over print that E-Books allow.” And Zombie Spaceship Wasteland was written by actor/comedian Patton Oswalt, using the horror movie monsters as a metaphor in a collection of essays “vividly evoking his zombie-like co-worker,” according to Booklist‘s review. Even 71-year-old literary author Joyce Carol Oates — twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize — named her 1996 novel Zombie (P.S.) It’s about a serial killer — named Zombie — who keeps a diary as he pursues his victims.
But yeah, most of the titles in the Kindle Store aren’t as ambitious.
I can understand why some of these books aren’t in the Library of Congress. (It’s probably more surprising that there’s any zombie books in the Library of Congress.) But to explore the popularity of stories about the shambling undead, I asked my friend Thomas Roche, a professional writer for more than 15 years, who’s just published his first novel about zombies. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten a quote back.
I think zombies may have actually eaten his brains.
Or maybe he’s just busy reading all the ebooks he’s competing with…
That last book is actually the newest book in R. L. Stine’s popular “Goosebumps” series of scary stories for younger readers (which have sold more than 350 million copies. I used its colorful cover at the top of this blog post. It’s easy to laugh at the titles, but they may have tapped into a storyline with some primal universal appeal. Some authors have enjoyed wild success by re-creating our darkest nightmares, and maybe that’s the ultimate irony.
It’s not that the zombies are attracted to our brains. It’s that our brains are attracted to zombies!
There’s even zombie Christmas books, believe it or not, including A Zombie Christmas Carol and A Christmas Carol of the Living Dead: a zombie holiday tale. (Plus A Zombie Christmas and “A Christmas Wish: A Zombie Tale for the Holidays.”) If you think that’s confusing, try reading The Christmas Zombie: The story of why zombies celebrate Christmas. And if you’re just looking for holiday cheer, there’s It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies (Christmas carols “composed specifically for…the decomposing).”
Some authors have also tried their hand at creating zombie books for other holidays. (Like Dangerous Hunts: A Zombie Father’s Day Tale.”) And A Very Zombie Holiday even follows a zombie father as he attempts to celebrate every holiday with his living family. If you’re after a classic bedtime story, there’s Snow White and the Seven Dead Dwarves: A Zombie Fairy Tale.” And for educational purposes, there’s also something called Zombie Ed Counts To Twenty, and its sequel, Zombie Ed Loves Halloween. (“Text-to-speech enabled… Finally! A zombie book for children! “)
And — uh-oh. Here comes another wave of more strange zombie ebooks…
I’m not sure what to make of an ebook called James Joyce and the Zombie Priest, though it’s attracted at least one positive review on its web page at Amazon. (“If there is a better zombie version of Araby by James Joyce, it would be news to me!”) This trend probably all started when real-world bookstores started seeing big sales of a 2009 parody novel called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (crediting Jane Austen as a co-author). It rose to #3 on the New York Times best-seller list, according to Wikipedia, apparently spawning a new generation of even stranger zombie novels — and zombie ebooks. There’s even a Garrison Keillor parody called The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten that’s attributed to an author named Harrison Geillor. (“The humor in this parody lies in the simple truth that even a zombie bear with a hatchet in its head won’t faze a Minnesotan,” writes Publisher’s Weekly.)
And there’s zombie parodies of other books — like Zombies of Oz (and The Terrible Zombie of Oz). There’s also The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim and Wuthering Heights and a Werewolf…and a Zombie Too.” Someone’s even written zombie versions of two Sherlock Holmes stories, a book of zombie fairy tales, and a zombie version of The War of the Worlds (“plus Blood, Guts, and Zombies”). And if you liked Great Expectations, you might try Pip and the Zombies, by Charles Dickens and Louis Skipper.
In the two years since Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the concept has apparently festered its way into a full-fledged literary movement. I was surprised to see a book titled simply Zombies for Zombies — until I realized it was a parody of the “For Dummies” book (receiving thirteen 5-star reviews). There’s also The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zombies, which strangely is not a parody, but an official title in the “Idiot’s Guide” series, which traces the origin of zombie stories with chapters about books, movies, and comic books. But just when it couldn’t get any creepier, I discovered that there’s even some zombie books that are actually about personal investing.
Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance
How to Prosper During the Coming Zombie Apocalypse
Workplace Of The Living Dead: What Zombies Can Teach Leaders About Engaging Employees
Zombie Project Management
And there’s also some zombie history books. (Which, honestly, throws some doubt over their historical accuracy.)
A Zombie’s History of the United States
A Tale of Zombies in Czarist Russia
A Tale of Zombies in the Old West
Everything My Grandmother Taught Me about Killing Zombies
The Eagle has Re-Animated
Pappy’s Old Time Zombie Radio Show
Zombies Take Manhattan
There’s something strangely inspiring about the sheer number of books that have ultimately been inspired about zombies. It’s nice to see this massive outpouring of new creativity, as people all around the globe start wondering what’s going to happen in their own imaginary zombie scenario. In fact, zombies are turning up in a surprising variety of different kinds of books. Though some authors even seem to think that maybe the lonely zombies just need a friend…
Maybe they were also inspired by the success of the Twilight series of books about a vampire’s teenaged romance. (One ebook author has even written Vampire Among the Zombies.) But I had to laugh when I saw an ebook titled “Where are the Zombies?”
Dude, you’re not paying attention. They’re everywhere!
October 29th, 2013
At that URL, Amazon offers a link that displays a list of every print book you’ve purchased from Amazon in the last 18 years that’s now available as a free (or discounted) Kindle ebook. “Over 70,000 books are enrolled in Kindle MatchBook,” Amazon explains in a press release — adding that every day, even more Kindle ebooks will become available. “It’s been great to see the positive response to MatchBook from both readers and publishers,” announceds Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle Content, noting that it took just a couple of weeks for the number of titles to jump from 10,000 to 70,000 — and predicting even bigger jumps in the months ahead.
I’ve never seen anything like this — and it’s stunning to see the scope of this program. “Print purchases all the way back to 1995 – when Amazon first opened its online bookstore – will qualify once a publisher enrolls a title in Kindle MatchBook,” Amazon explained in today’s announcement. The only bad news is I haven’t purchased many of the print editions which would qualify me for the big Kindle discount. This morning I clicked the link at Kindle Matchbook, and discovered there was only one Kindle ebook where I’d qualify for a discount: the children’s picture book Curious George.
But even that brought back a happy memory. At first I couldn’t even remember buying the book — and why had I bought it in 2006? Then I remembered a friend of mine who’d been teaching children in the Marshall Islands. I started a campaign to show her some support, suggesting to her friends online that we should all mail her one of our own favorite children’s picture books (from when we were schoolchildren). And I’d thought that the children in the Marshall Islands might enjoy the story about the happy monkey in the jungle who meets up with a Man in the Yellow Hat!
I enjoyed that experience, because it’s fun to share the joy of reading — and in a small way, I feel like Amazon is offering a similar experience. Kindle owners are getting a chance to read a lot of ebooks that Amazon knows we’re going to like — because at some point in the last 18 years, we’ve already purchased a copy! Of course, Amazon is also encouraging people to start doing their reading on their Kindles — but like a lot of stories, it all comes down to one basic truth.
Reading is fun, no matter where you do it. (Or, in the case of Amazon’s KindleMatchbook program — no matter when you did it!) :)
October 27th, 2013
It’s a cold, blustery October night, and there’s leaves blowing against my window. It’s the perfect time for remembering some of the greatest scary stories ever written — especially since they’re all now available as free Kindle ebooks!
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Ichabod Crane had heard the ghost stories about a headless horseman that rides through the night. On that very night, traveling home alone himself, under the light of a full moon he has his own legendary encounter with…ah, but there’s a twist at the end. And all these years after first hearing the story, I’ve discovered it’s just part of a much larger work. Washington Irving was the very first best-selling author in America, and he’d followed up his first sensational debut with a new collection of essays and stories — including some scary new folk tales that he’d actually made up himself! This collection also includes the famous story of Rip Van Winkle, who falls asleep before the American Revolution — and wakes up 20 years later, after the colonies have revolted and formed their own independent nation!
Edgar Allan Poe wrote a surprising number of America’s best-known horror stories, including Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum. His poetry is also very dark — Ulalume actually takes place around Halloween night — but his obsession with morbid themes also ultimately led him to become the author of the first detective story every written. It’s a murder mystery, of course — you’ll never guess who actually committed The Murders in the Rue Morgue — and Poe later even wrote two more stories using the same detective — The Mystery of Marie Rogêt and The Purloined Letter. But there’s also a surprisingly scary tale where a murderer is unmasked in the most shocking way possible — entitled “Thou Art the Man”. Twist endings were actually very popular in Poe’s time, and I’ve been surprised just how well some of his stories hold up!
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Percy Shelley died when he was 29 — though he was acclaimed as one of England’s greatest romantic poets. Some of this is through the efforts of his wife Mary, who promoted and edited his poems. And it’s been said that he may have had an infleunce himself on her intense novel, Frankenstein. Its idea came from a nightmare, and turned into her gothic story about about a promising young man who suffers the death of a loved one, and then embarks on a scientific experiment which he’ll later come to regret. It was first published anonymously in 1818, though it’s since gone on to become a classic monster story. (And Wikipedia has uncovered another strange historical twist. Mary WollstonecraftShelley was actually romantically interested in Washington Irving, the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow!)
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Written just 126 years ago, Dracula is relatively modern for a classic horror story. Its author, Bram Stoker actually died in poverty just 14 years after publishing Dracula, according to Wikipedia, and his horror novel didn’t become popular until well into the next century. (It just goes to show how the invention of moving pictures changed everything — including the way we experienced our monster stories.) But interestingly, an early fan of the novel was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the Sherlock Holmes series. If you reach back 100 years, you’ll find lots of clever authors who appreciated both mystery and menace — and the joys of a good scary novel.
And 100 years later, you can read them all for free on your Kindle!