The Velveteen Rabbit cover illustration

Over 45 different children’s picture books are now each available for less than a dollar in Amazon’s Kindle Store! “From Aladdin to The Velveteen Rabbit,” Amazon posted on one of their Facebook pages, “these 45 Kindle-exclusive Rabbit Ears picture books are just 99¢ each for a limited time.” Amazon posted the announcement on the Facebook page for their Kindle Fire tablets, presumably because of the lavish cover images for each of the books. But these are “Kindle Edition” books, so you can enjoy them on any kind of Kindle!

There’s three Beatrix Potter stories in the mix, along with some adaptations of a few folk tales, and classic children’s stories by Rudyard Kipling (and two by Washington Irving). There’s even a few characters from history, whose lives are being re-told in special biographies for younger readers. To see the selection, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/DollarKidBooks. It looks like some of these books are brand new, and they normally sell for $7.77 — so it’s a pretty big savings.

Here’s a list of the 45 children’s books that have been reduced in price to just 99 cents!

The Velveteen Rabbit
Beatrix Potter’s A Tale of Two Bad Mice
The Three Little Pigs
How the Leopard Got his Spots by Rudyard Kipling
The Three Bill Goats Gruff
Johnny Appleseed
The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen
How the Camel Get His Hump by Rudyard Kipling
Jack and the Beanstalk
Goldilocks
Pecos Bill
Rip Van Winkle
Rumpelstiltskin
The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling
John Henry
How the Rhinocerous Got His Skin
Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby
The Night Before Christmas
Anansi
Red Riding Hood
Tom Thumb
Noah and the Ark
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Emperor’s New Clothes
Paul Bunyan
Pinocchio
Annie Oakley
Davy Crocket
Parables That Jesus Told
Aladdin
Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Mr. Jeremy Fisher
Mose the Fireman
The Bremen Town Musicians
Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester
The Emperor and the Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen
Princess Scargo and the Birthday Pumpkin
The Boy Who Drew Cats
The Firebird
Follow the Drinking Gord
The Tiger and the Brahmin
Peachboy
The Monkey People
Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The Steadfast Tin Soldier
Squanto and the First Thanksgiving
The Fisherman and his Wife
Stormalong

Kindle Magazines

This is pretty exciting. There’s more than 18 different magazines that are now available for your Kindle for a free 90-day trial! I got the news in an e-mail from Amazon, which also highlighted some discounts on ebooks. Seven thriller novels are now on sale for $2.99 or less — and there’s also eight different children’s picture books available for just $1.99 each.

“May is proving to be a great month for readers of all tastes,” Amazon bragged in an e-mail that touted all the special offers. And I have to admit that I’m impressed by how many magazines are available for the
free 90-day subscriptions. Most of them are big-name publications that have been around for decades. To browse the selection, visit tinyurl.com/FreeKindleMagazines. Here’s a list of the 18 magazines that you can read for free for 90 days on your Kindle!

   Field & Stream
   Ladies’ Home Journal
   TV Guide
   ESPN The Magazine
   Family Circle
   The American Scholar
   Outdoor Life
   More
   Every Day with Rachael Ray
   Country Woman
   Healthy Cooking
   Do It Yourself
   Simple & Delicious
   EatingWell
   Traditional Home
   Midwest Living
   Siempre Mujer
   Diabetic Living

And as an added bonus, that page also lists six more magazines that are available as free color apps for your Kindle Fire tablet (or any other Android-connected device).

   Readers’ Digest
   Vogue Magazine
   Bon Appetit
   Better Homes and Gardens
   Parents Magazine
   Fitness Magzine

It’s a great reminder that a Kindle can read magazines as well as ebooks. (Even after the 90-day trial ends, you can continue your subscription to most of these magazines for just $1.00 a month.)
This is a limited-time offer, so sign up this week if you’re interested in a free trial subscription. This offer ends on Thursday, May 31.

In the same e-mail, Amazon also called attention to a nice selection of discounted thriller novels. (For an easy-to-remember short-cut, just go to tinyurl.com/CheapKindleThrills. They’re all available for $2.99 or less. Here’s a list of the discounted thriller novels.

   Already Gone by John Rector
   The Shop by J. Carson Black
   Vaccine Nation by David Lender
   The Immortalists by Kyle Mills
   Liquid Fear by Scott Nicholson
   Resuscitation by D.M. Annechino
   A Small Fortune by Audrey Braun

And finally, Amazon’s also discounted some children’s picture books. (Each one available for just $1.99!) Just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/199KindleKidsBooks. I have to admit that I smiled at some of the silly titles. Here’s a complete list.

   There Was an Old Monkey Who Swallowed a Frog
   The Hiccupotamus
   What If Everybody Did That?
   Too Many Fairies: A Celtic Tale
   If Beaver Had A Fever
   Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze!
   Stars! Stars! Stars!
   Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
   Jack and the Giant Barbecue

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Here’s a special announcement. There’s more exciting new ebooks to read on your Kindle! Once a year, Amazon hosts a contest to discover a “breakthrough novelist”. Thousands of new novels were entered this year, but after several rounds of judging, they’ve finally narrowed it down to just six awesome finalists!

“The quality of the entries continues to climb…” one Amazon official announced this week, citing reports from their panels of expert judges. The novels get better every year, making this the most competitive contest yet, and he warns that when it comes time for Amazon’s customers to choose a winner, “they’ll have have a challenge picking a favorite.”

That’s right — you get to pick the winner. Amazon’s collecting votes through a web page at http://www.amazon.com/abna , and they’re keeping things honest with a one-vote-per-account rule. You can also read what the judges have already said about each entry, and there’s even a “Meet the Finalists” page, where you can read each novel’s reviews. And – of course — you can also download a free excerpt for your Kindle.

There’s three finalists each in two different categories — “General Fiction” and “Young Adult.” Here’s the three “breakthrough novels” that made it into the finals in the “general fiction” category.


   The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill
   Grace Humiston and the Vanishing by Charles Kelly
   A Chant of Love and Lamentation by Brian Reeves


And here’s the three “breakthrough novels” that reached the final round in the “Young Adult Fiction” category.


   Dreamcatchers by Casey (Cassandra) Griffin
   Out of Nowhere by Rebecca Phillips
   On Little Wings by Regina Sirois


Two grand prize winners will be selected — one in each category — and each winner will receive not only a publishing contract with Penguin Group, but also a hefty $15,000 advance! Amazon and Penguin teamed up with CreateSpace to deliver this event, and Publisher’s Weekly also played a role, providing reviewers for each novel that reached the semi-finals. And Amazon’s even promoting the creation of “local chapters” supporting new authors and offering events “to cheer each other on as the contest progresses.”

Amazon will announce the winners on June 16th at an awards ceremony in Seattle. (So remember, Amazon has to receive your votes by Wednesday, May 30th.) This is the fifth year that Amazon’s held the event, but it seems like a fun way to discover fresh new talent at the start of their career. I’ve always wondered if self-publishing will change the kind of fiction that authors write.

And if it does, it’s possible that they’ll find their first audiences through Amazon’s breakthrough novel contest!


America’s getting ready to enjoy a relaxing three-day weekend — and I’ve saved up a few announcements about some special ebooks to keep everyone entertained! You probably remember that every month, Amazon offers 100 ebooks for just $3.99 or less. You can browse them all at tinyurl.com/399books — and the selections for the month of May look unusually good!


All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Heriot

“Veterinarian James Herriot recalls life in England during World War II,” reads the book’s description on Amazon, “when the great forces of the modern world came even to his sleepy Yorkshire hamlet.” This heart-warming classic about the people in his village — and the animals that they love — normally costs $14.99, but for the month of May Amazon’s reduced the price to just $3.99. (It’s quite a deal, since the print edition was nearly 500 pages long!)


The Year the Music Changed by Diane Thomas

I’ve always been fascinated by the life of Elvis Presley, but it’s also inspired some very imaginative novels!. The Year the Music changed invents a new story, told with imaginary letters between a 14-year-old fan and the 20-year-old singer who was about to change the world forever. A review from Publisher’s Weekly reports that author Diane Thomas “delved into Presley biographies, communed with his fans on the Internet and produced a warm, lively and immensely readable novel that will especially touch fans of ‘the King. ‘” One Georgia newspaper even wrote that the novel “may engrave itself into the memories of more readers than “To Kill a Mockingbird.” . . . [It's] the most satisfying novel I’ve read in many years.”


Drawn with the Sword : Reflections on the American Civil War by James M. McPherson

I was surprised to learn that the author of this book had already won a Pulitzer Prize for an earlier book about the Civil War — and, according to Wikipedia, that he’s even on the editorial board for Encyclopedia Britannica. James McPherson is considered a real authority, and when this book was first released in 1996, Publisher’s Weekly applauded its four themes — how the war started, why it ended the way it did, Abraham Lincoln’s role, and how it ultimately affected America. Plus, it ends with a rousing and thought-provoking essay about what wrong with modern historians!


What Color is My World by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

This March saw the release of a unique new book by a famous basketball player. (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still holds the all-time record for points scored during his 20-year career in the NBA — 38,387 points!) But at the age of 65, he turned his attention to a book for children about overlooked African-American inventors, both past and present. “I was surprised at how many inventors that affected our everyday life had been left out of what we learned in school…” he revealed in an exclusive interview that appears on the book’s page at Amazon.com. “I’ve said many times that if I hadn’t become a professional basketball player, I would have become a history teacher. There’s so much to learn from history.”


There’s also several cookbooks that Amazon’s offering at a big discount, including Rice & Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking and The Pharsoh’s Kitchen: Recipes from Ancient Egypt’s Enduring Food Traditions. Maybe Amazon is celebrating the arrival of spring, since they’ve also discounted an ebook called Fast, Fresh and Green, and there’s even an advice book about vegetable gardens. But of course, the book I was most intrigued by was Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations.

Maybe I should buy a copy of that for my girlfriend, since for my birthday this year, she’s promised to bake me a tasty cake!

Best New Books for May!

May 22nd, 2012

The best books of the month

I just noticed that Amazon has finally unveiled their “Best Books of the Month” page — a selection of May’s best new books, as chosen by Amazon’s own book editors. They’ve identified nine very special books, including new novels by some famous authors, and some very interesting non-fiction! (For a shortcut to Amazon’s list, just visit tinyurl.com/BestBooksOfMay .)

Here’s what’s on the list…


In One Person

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!”


Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: a Novel

Eight American soldiers survive an intense firefight in Iraq, only to be honored with a guest appearance beside the Dallas Cowboys during a Thanksgiving halftime show. There they meet a wild cast of characters, according to the book’s description on Amazon, and “Over the course of this day, Billy will begin to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his struggling family, and his brothers-in-arms – soldiers both dead and alive. In the final few hours before returning to Iraq, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.”


An Uncommon Education

This thought-provoking novel tells the story of a woman in college who’s “consumed by loneliness,” according to the book’s description on Amazon, “until the day she sees a girl fall into the freezing waters of a lake.” There’s a secret Shakespeare society, rituals, friendship, and enthusiastic students, offering a “compelling portrait of a quest for greatness and the grace of human limitations,” and a novel that’s both “poignant and wise.”


Season of the Witch
This is a fascinating history of San Francisco during a period of transformation — from 1967 to 1982. A reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle called it “A gritty corrective to our rosy memories…enthralling, news-driven history…smart and briskly paced tale…” (They added, “I found it hard to put down!”) This 482-page book looks absolutely fascinating, and it was written by David Talbot, who co-founded Salon.com and (according to Wikipedia) has also written for The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Time Magazine.


Home

Toni Morrison has already won a Nobel prize, so it’s a literary event when she releases a brand new novel. “Nobody owns a sentence like Ms. Morrison,” Amazon writes in their review, describing its “slender, lyrical prose” that tells the story of a Korean war veteran and his sister who’s been abandoned by her husband. One newspaper called it “an intimate story with epic implications,” and another said author Toni Morrison was “at her best,” calling Home “her finest work since the groundbreaking 1992 novel Beloved.


Trapeze

The story of a female spy in World War II is based on the author’s own memories of her personal connection to a real-life spy. Her mother worked in England’s Women’s Auxiliary Air Force alongside another woman who was recruited for Britain’s “Special Operations Executive” program. “The role of SOE was destruction, not intelligence,” the author remembers on the book’s page at Amazon. “In the famous words of Winston Churchill, they were to ‘set Europe ablaze’.” The author’s father, a pilot in the Royal Air Force, air-dropped supplies to the same undercover agents when she behind enemy lines in France. Amazon describes the book as “a smart, well-paced spy thriller based on the true, extraordinary story of the SOE…”


The Passage of Power

Biographer Robert A. Caro has spent several decades producing a series of definitive books about the life of President Lyndon Johnson. And according to the book’s description on Amazon, he’s still delivering the pieces of a very powerful portrait. “Book Four of Robert A. Caro’s monumental The Years of Lyndon Johnson displays all the narrative energy and illuminating insight that led the Times of London to acclaim it as ‘one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age. A masterpiece’.”


“This is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming…”

This book actually has a very long subtitle that sardonically lists out all the things it will help the reader overcome. (Like grief, disease, shyness, decrepitude “and more. For Young and Old Alike.”) But it’s really a new dark humor advice memoir by Augusten Burroughs, delivering “raw, hard-knock-life advice,” according to Amazon, “veering from brutal to hilarious to deeply compassionate.” It looks brutal but intriguing, and it’s described on Amazon’s page as a “no-holds barred” book that “will challenge your notion of self-help books!”


Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power

This isn’t just any investigation into a wealthy energy producer. It was written by a staff writer for The New Yorker who also spent 20 years as a reporter at The Washington Post, where he’d won a Pulitzer Prize, according to the book’s page on Amazon. Various reviewers described the book as masterful, magisterial, meticulous, or multi-angled, with one calling it a “must-read” that at the same time is both “riveting and appalling.” And one Amazon customer even warned that “You can’t put this book down. It just grabs you!”

The Avengers movie soundtrack cover

I love listening to music on my Kindle — and now Amazon’s making it even easier. Today they posted a special offer for music-lovers on their own page on Facebook — facebook.com/amazon — promising readers a $2.00 credit for any music download from mp3.Amazon.com. “Happy Friday!” reads their announcement. “Thumbs up if you like free music!”

To claim the credit, just visit this web page — or go to tinyurl.com/TwoFreeMp3s — and then just complete this sentence. “My favorite song right now is: ____.” A blue button lets you share your response with your friends on Facebook — and then claim your $2.00 credit for music downloads from Amazon!

You can even combine Amazon’s credit with the other discounts they’re already offering on their music page. For example, they’re offering downloads of entire albums for just five dollars — and sometimes even less. Madonna’s new album Mdna — released just seven weeks ago — is available for just $3.99, and so is Coldplay’s newest album, Mylo Xyloto. Plus, there’s a section of free song downloads, even songs by big-name, major-label recording artists like the Flaming Lips, Heart, Spoon, and Ziggy Marley. (I was excited to find some free classical tracks — one by Luciano Pavarotti, and a Rachmaninoff piano concerto by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.)

I’ve been uploading Amazon’s .mp3-format music files onto my Kindle, trying to create the perfect “background music” effect while reading certain ebooks. (When I read U.S. history, I like to listen to Aaron Copland!) Sometimes I’ll keep skipping through my music files, trying to find the right fit for the ebook I’m reading. And of course, I’m also a big fan of listening to music files while I’m surfing the web on my computer!

If you’re a movie lover, Amazon’s discounted the cost of downloading the entire soundtrack albums for some of this summer’s biggest blockbusters. Avengers: Assemble is just $5.99 (with music “from and inspired by” the movie.) And Amazon’s offering the same low price for The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond. (Or, for $5.00, there’s a similar collection of songs from Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. ) Remember, that’s the price before you subtract the special $2.00 credit that Amazon’s giving away online.

This means that all of Amazon’s $5.00 albums now cost just $3.00 — including the Go-Go’s Beauty and the Beat album and Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s Live Bullet. And some albums are even cheaper. For example, for $3.99 — or, $1.99, after applying the discount — Amazon will sell you one of nearly 400 different five-song collections from Rhino Records, commemorating classic rock artists like Foreigner, Foghat, Deep Purple, as well as “oldies” groups like The Coasters, The Drifters, Little Richard, or Otis Redding, plus collections of Ray Charles, John Coltrane, or Sammy Davis Jr.

I was really impressed by the wide variety of $3.99 $1.99 five-song collections that Rhino Records has available as .mp3 downloads. There were collections for 1960s bands like the Grateful Dead, The Association, and The Monkees, and there were collections for 1980s bands like The Cars, the B-52s, the Roches, and even Twisted Sister. (Also available were collections from some favorite light rock artists, like Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, George Benson, and Bread.) Plus, Rhino’s even selling discounted collections with five comedy tracks from Steve Martin, Bill Cosby, or Cheech and Chong. There’s some rap albums in the mix, with collections of Busta Rhymes, Coolio, or Ice-T — and more “alternative” bands like They Might Be Giants, the Rembrandts, and the Ramones…

There’s some other interesting full-length albums that are also available for just $3.99 $1.99 , including “99 Must-Have Christmas songs,” which Amazon pointed out was a $92.04 savings over the cost of buying each .mp3 individually. And for the same price, you can also buy Bill Cosby’s classic comedy album, 200 m.p.h..I think my all-time favorite title for any album on the site was Yeah Yeah Yeah by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. By the end of the afternoon, I’d spent nearly an hour browsing through all the choices before finally spending my $2.00 credit.

So what’s your current favorite song right now?

Finger on Kindle Touch

Believe it or not, now there’s even more rumors about Amazon’s next Kindle. Within 10 weeks, Amazon will release a “front-lit” touchscreen Kindle, according to Reuters. They cite a source “who has seen the prototype” and has “direct knowledge” of Amazon’s plans. Yes, it’ll probably drain your battery a little faster, but there’s a real demand for it, a technology analyst tells the news organization. And it’s just one of many interesting new rumors emering about Amazon’s next Kindles

Ironically, their source also contradicts an earlier rumor. Just last weekend the technology blogs claimed that Amazon was already ordering parts for a color E-Ink Kindle — but the article from Reuters is reporting very different information. “The source said that there was very little chance of Amazon launching one this year. Though Amazon has held can talks with E Ink, the companies haven’t reached any concrete decisions yet, he said.” And they’ve tracked down another on-the-record source — an analyst who tracks the supply chains for electronic components — who had doubts about the last color E-ink parts that they’d seen in October. To be used on a mass scale, they’d require more refinements, he told the news organization on Tuesday, adding pointedly that “I doubt if the color Kindle is ready for a launch.”

Besides, Amazon already has their color, touchscreen tablets, the Kindle Fire, and Amazon also has some new plans for that product line, according to Reuters. According to their source, Amazon is planning a larger version of the tablet — its screen will measure 8.9 inches diagonally — but they won’t release it until later in 2012, when it’s closer to the big Christmas shopping season. Of course, it’s hard to know where the Kindle is really going just from reading predictions in newspapers. Each one seems to have small bits of information — which sometimes contradict each other!

For example, the sales of the Kindle Fire are actually slumping, according to one source. “Amazon wasn’t able to sustain its tablet sales momentum during the first quarter…” reports eWeek, noting that after the big burst of Christmas sales, Amazon’s share of the tablet market for the next three months “fell from nearly 17 percent…to just above 4 percent.” The statistics come from the technology analysts at IDC, whose figures suggest that in the first three months of 2012, where Apple sold 11.8 million iPads, Amazon sold about 700,000 Kindle Fire tablets.

Of course, maybe the larger screen will improve the sales of Amazon’s color tablets. Or maybe there’ll be a surge in new owners for the E-Ink Kindles, if the front-lighting turns out to be surprisingly popular. A columnist at Forbes magazine even suggests that Amazon might eventually end up selling their ebooks to Nook owners! When you’re talking about the future, anything is possible.

That’s one of the fun things about being part of the Kindle revolution…

20 books that were made into FILMS

Every day Amazon offers a big one-day discount on one special ebook. It’s on a special web page called “the Kindle Daily Deal” (available at this shortcut: tinyurl.com/DailyKindleDeal ) But today’s deal is even better than usual. Because on Sunday — for one day only — Amazon is discounting twenty different ebooks!

“Today only, 20 great novels that inspired movies are just $0.99 each on Kindle,” Amazon explains at the top of the page. It’s a series of books from a publishing house named Rosetta (titled — what else? — “Books into Film”.) “Individual Daily Deal titles may have additional territory restrictions, and not all deals are available in all territories,” Amazon warns at the top of the web page. But if you’re lucky enough to be in the right country — and you can make it to the web page before midnight — there’s some very intriguing titles on the list!

For example, they’re offering a 99-cent version of the book Shoeless Joe, which was the basis for Kevin Costner’s baseball movie, Field of Dreams. There’s also a discounted version of I am Legend, which was made into a movie starring Will Smith, and even the original book version for Village of the Damned. But they’ve also discounted books that inspired some of the great classic movies, like In the Heat of the Night, and even Marilyn Monroe’s first movie, the noir classic Asphalt Jungle. I was surprised to see the books behind some of the ground-breaking films from the 1960s, including Midnight Cowboy and even Dr. Strangelove. And Slaughterhouse-Five, the great anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut, also made it onto the list too — available all day Sunday for just 99 cents.

Here’s the complete list of all the “Books into Film” Kindle ebooks that on sale Sunday for just 99 cents.


     Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
     I Am Legend
     Wizard’s First Rule (the basis for “Legend of the Seeker”)
     The Day of the Triffids
     To Dance with the White Dog: A Novel of Life, Loss, Mystery, and Hope
     Who Goes There (the basis for “The Thing”)
     Shoeless Joe (the basis for “Field of Dreams”)
     Girl in Hyacinth Blue
     Midwich Cuckoos (basis for “Village of the Damned”)
     Red Alert (The basis for “Dr. Strangelove”)
     Make Room! Make Room! (The basis for “Soylent Green”)
     In the Heat of the Night
     Midnight Cowboy
     Friday the Rabbi Slept Late
     The Sand Pebbles
     Fuzz
     Bang the Drum Slowly
     The Asphalt Jungle
     An American Tragedy (the basis for “A Place in the Sun”)
     The Brave Cowboy (the basis for “Lonely are the Brave”)

I just want to add that this is a deal so big, it took two different Amazon services to bring it to the web. The Kindle Daily Deal page combined forces with Amazon’s special Gold Box page (which offers their own “Deal of the Day”, plus other big discounts throughout the day which sometimes last for only a few hours.) It’s another page worth watching, and I’ve created a shorter URL so it’s easier to get there: tinyurl.com/GoldBoxPage

I think the only thing better than a good ebook is a good ebook that costs 99 cents!

Will the next Kindle use this color E-Ink screen?

This is just another rumor — but it’s a juicy one! “Amazon Kindle could get a color screen this year,” reads the headline at one technology site.

This apparently isn’t the touchscreen Kindle Fire tablets, but the regular Kindles that display ebooks (and games) without a backlit screen. I saw this rumor on the “ToyBoy” technology blog at Ziff-Davis’s web site, but they’re citing a report from DigiTimes, a well-respected technology newspaper, who attributed their information to “industry sources”. They’d report that “makers in the supply chain” are believed to be shipping parts and components this month for a color e-book reader. And the blogger at Ziff-Davis had just one question left: what took them so long?

Amazon’s Kindle uses E-Ink’s screen technology, and that manufacturer has offered a color version of their screens since at least 2010. Last year they gave a demonstration of their 4,096-color screen at a tradeshow, according to Ziff-Davis’s blogger, but it was plagued with a “fairly lackluster color saturation,” and even Amazon’s CEO reportedly described the colors as “very pale.”

The blogger also links to an interview with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos at the web site for Consumer Reports from exactly one year ago. But if you read the rest of his comments, it sounds like Bezos was already interested in the idea of a color screen. He tells the interviewer that color e-ink technology “continues to be improved,” and that a low-power color screen that’s not back-lit like a computer monitor “makes a lot of sense… I think that’s something you could build a fantastic product around.”

We may be getting close to the day when Amazon finally launches a color Kindle. Maybe it’s a way for e-book readers to enjoy some of the same perks that are available in the bookstore for the Kindle Fire tablet. It is fun to see a full-color picture for the cover of your ebooks — and if you’re reading a magazine, there’d even be color pictures!

I just hope that when I’m finally ready to go back to reading — the words on the page stay in black and white!

I was sad to hear that Maurice Sendak died on Tuesday. He wrote “Where the Wild Things Are,” and also wrote or illustrated several dozen more books — all just as original, and just as exciting. So it’s surprising that there aren’t any Kindle ebooks available by Maurice Sendak. But there is one way to get Maurice Sendak’s works onto your Kindle — by listening to an audiobook!

And amazingly, there’s also a full-length novel adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are that was written by Dave Eggers!

The audiobook is narrated by Peter Schickele, who is better known as the classical music humorist, P.D.Q. Bach. Schickele also composed a lively musical score for the story, which plays in the background as he reads the book’s short dialogue. (Sendak’s story famously has only 10 sentences in it — just 338 words — but with the additional music, the audiobook version is six minutes long.) “Schickele narrates with infectious enthusiasm,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon, “bringing life to the words, sounding as if he’s telling his favorite story…”

It’s also available as a DVD with animated versions of Sendak’s original pictures — along with adaptations of more Sendak stories. The DVD includes versions of the four short poems in “The Nutshell Library” — Pierre, One Was Johnny, Alligators All Around, and Chicken Soup With Rice — sung and set to music by Carol King.) Just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/SendakCartoons. And that collection concludes with Schikele’s version of Sendak’s “In the Night Kitchen.”

Audible.com is also selling an audiobook which contains a 25-minute interview with Sendak on the PBS radio show, Fresh Air. (Sendak was one of two guests on the show, which also includes another 25-minute interview with actress Patricia Clarkson.) It was recorded in 2003, when 75-year-old Sendak had just released a new book called Brundibar that was based on a dramatic Czechoslovakian opera. The audiobook offers a fun to hear Maurice Sendak’s voice coming out of your Kindle!

Finally, “Where the Wild Things Are” was adapted into a live-action movie in 2009, with a screenplay that was co-written by the award-winning novelist Dave Eggers (who was once also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize). I’ve been a fan of Eggers since he wrote A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and along with the movie’s screenplay, he also wrote a full-length novel version of Sendak’s story. The San Francisco Chronicle called it a “funny and touching novelization of Maurice Sendak’s picture book,” saying that Eggers was “brilliant at portraying the exuberance and chaos of a young boy’s mind and heart.” And it’s available as a Kindle ebook. (Just sail your web browser away to tinyurl.com/SendakNovel )

I’m a big fan of Sendak. One year before he wrote Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak even drew the illustrations for a dark little children’s story by Robert Graves (the 67-year-old author of I, Claudius). People are remembering their favorite Sendak stories today, all around the web.

And it’s nice to know there’s also ways to remember Sendak with your Kindle!

An Amazon Kindle cover with zipper

Amazon’s always offering special deals — but now they’re finally discounting something besides a Kindle. For the next seven days — through May 13th — they’re offering a 30% discount on a big selection of Amazon’s covers when you buy a new Kindle. There’s at least 23 different covers on sale, for both the new $79 Kindle and even for the color, Kindle Fire tablets. It’s got me wondering if Amazon is also quietly preparing to launch an even larger kind of tablets…

Amazon’s touting the special as a way to pick up the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. The idea is that after you’ve bought a nice new Kindle, you can also pick up a nice cover to go with it! (Amazon’s promoting the special in a pink band that appears at the top of their pages for the Kindle Fire tablet and the new $79 Kindle.) I’ve created a shorter URL that makes it easier to find the covers — just go to tinyurl.com/KindleCovers4Mom ! Even if you’re just shopping for yourself, it’s a nice way to “window shop”.

But here’s why I think this is significant. Last week Amazon was offering discounts on Kindle Fire tablets, and now they’re offering a discount on Kindle Fire covers. There’s been rumors that Amazon’s planning a larger touchscreen tablet computer — sort of a bigger, 2.0 version of their original Kindle Fire tablets. I’m wondering if Amazon’s trying to unload all their tablet-sized covers now, so they can then launch a new line of larger tablets…which, of course, would need larger covers!

Whatever Amazon’s doing, it’s your chance to buy a nice cover for your new Kindle, and at a pretty good price. (Amazon’s lighted, leather cover normally sells for $60, for example, but with this discount it’s now available for just $42.) I’m a little disappointed that Amazon’s not offering the same discount for every type of cover, and that you can’t get the discount without also buying a new Kindle. But there’s still a lot to choose from – and I think many new Kindle owners underestimate the benefit of having a nice cover.

Just for example, I bought a cover for my Kindle DX, and I love how it brought even more simplicity to the way I read ebooks. It’s made it possible to prop up the Kindle, so I could give my hands a break from holding it while I’m reading! For some reason, that makes it even more relaxing to curl up with a good ebook.

Amazon’s sale includes a discount on 10 different covers for the Kindle Fire, and another 13 covers for the new $79 Kindle. (And some of those even have a built-in light!) There’s covers that zip up, or covers that are made out of genuine leather, and they’re available in lots of different colors. (Pink, blue, green, graphite…)

But best of all, they’re all available at a 30% discount!

James Bond montage
The first James Bond book was published nearly 60 years ago — and it was nearly 50 years ago that the first James Bond movie was released. Now the famous secret agent has found his way into the world of ebooks. This month, Amazon announced a 10-year license for the every one of Ian Fleming’s “James Bond” books for North America — both in print and as Kindle ebooks.

“We believe that Amazon Publishing has the ability to place the books back at the heart of the Bond brand…” announced the managing director of Ian Fleming Publications, Ltd., praising Amazon for ” balancing traditional publishing routes with new technologies and new ways of reaching our readers.” They seemed intrigued by the reach of the Kindle, and the possibility that it could open up an entirely new market. . “We are excited to be using the opportunity of this re-license to introduce Ian Fleming’s books to a broader audience in the USA.”

Amazon noted that the books have already sold more than 100 million copies — and that the James Bond series of films is “the world’s longest-running film franchise.” But more importantly, “We are devoted fans of Fleming’s Bond novels here at Amazon Publishing,” noted business development director Philip Patrick. In a statement, he said that Amazon’s book-publishing arm could offer famous authors “a new life for great backlist titles” (adding that Ian Fleming was “the perfect fit.”) So how does it feel to be keeping Ian Fleming’s books alive on one of Amazon’s own publishing imprints?

“We’re thrilled…”

Here’s a list of the James Bond titles which will be available as Kindle ebooks.


Casino Royale (1953)
Live and Let Die (1954
Moonraker (1955)
Diamonds Are Forever (1956)
From Russia with Love (1957)
Dr. No (1958)
Goldfinger (1959)
For your Eyes Only (1960)
Thunderball (1961)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1962)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963)
You Only Live Twice (1964)
The Man With The Golden Gun (1965)
Octopussy (1966)
The Living Daylights (1966)

In addition, Amazon also plans to publish two interesting non-fiction books written by Ian Fleming — The Diamond Smugglers, a true-crime story from 1957 analyzing the illegal trade in precious stones, plus Thrilling Cities, a 1963 collection of travel stories.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with my friend Len Edgerly (who broadcasts a new episode of the Kindle Chronicles podcast online every Friday). Last summer he’d read From Russia With Love during a trip, and noted that even back then, it wasn’t available on the Nook (or on any other digital reading devices that he’d tried). But on his podcast, Len shared another interesting observation: that reading that ebook also opened his eyes to the potential of “public notes” created for a Kindle ebook.

[T]here’s an intriguing use of public annotations in that book, because Jeffrey Deaver has — apparently he was authorized by the family to write another 007 novel in the series. It’s called Carte Blanche, and it was actually published in May. But he was going through “From Russia With Love, written by Ian Fleming, sharing his impressions of the book as part of his preparation for writing his own James Bond novel. And one of the ones I loved the best was, in that book, Bond isn’t — doesn’t appear in the book to where you can see what he’s doing and saying until a third of the book goes — has passed. It’s all preparation and Moscow and — the spy’s getting ready to seduce him, and all this. And Deaver says, this is amazing, you know, that he would have the discipline and the skill to wait this long to introduce his main character…. I’m going to be really curious to read the Deaver book to see if I can see things that he flagged in his reading of From Russia With Love as he was preparing his own version of a Jame Bond story.

But I can picture other uses of that where a favorite author is reading a classic or just another book of some kind, and you have a chance to look over his shoulder and see what he or she is jotting down, highlighting and making notes about…

Len’s comment got me thinking about the possibility of a college professor leaving notes for his entire class in a Kindle ebook. Or maybe the members of a book group could all pool their notes, so they could share their reactions to the ebook while they were still reading it! I wondered if someday, a president of the United States might leave notes in an ebook to commemorate National Reading Month. And Len remembered that on one of Barack Obama’s vacations last year one time, “it came out that he had read the biography of Ronald Reagan. And man, that would’ve been fascinating to see what he was highlighting in the notes he was jotting down about that!”

My theory is that people just aren’t aware of the power of public notes. (To follow a specific person’s notes, just login at Kindle.Amazon.com and search for their name, and then click the “Follow” button that appears over their profile picture.) I predicted to Len that as time goes by, and as people become more familiar with the possibilities, we’ll see more interesting uses for public notes on the Kindle. The last thing I said to him?

“I’m actually surprised more people aren’t doing this already!”

Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet

For Wednesday only — while supplies last — you can get a refurbished Kindle Fire for just $139!

They were previously owned, but just like with past deals, they’ve all since been tested by Amazon, so they’ll still come with a full one-year warranty, just like a new Kindle Fire tablet! (And since the Kindle Fire was only released on November 15th, none of them are more than five and a half months old!) Normally the Kindle Fire tablets cost $199, so it’s a really nice way to save some money.

There’s a couple of ways to get to the page with the special offer. The easiest is just to go to point your browser to tinyurl.com/KindleFireThursday . That’s the easy-to-remember URL I made last time Amazon had a special price on Kinde Fire tablets – and even though today the sale is on Wednesday, the URL still works! Amazon is also offering the special price through their “Gold Box Deals” page. (“New Deals, Every Day.”) If you go to the same URL on Thursday, there’ll be a different deal — and another one the next day — and there’s also “Lightning Deals” on the same page which last only for an hour or two.

And right now they’re also offering a discount on a sleeve for your new Kindle Fire Tablet…

Remember, all of these deals are “While Supplies Last,” so if there’s something you’re interested in, hurry up and grab it! (That’s part of the fun…) I still haven’t bought a Kindle Fire tablet — but at prices this low, it’s going to be hard to resist!