Kindle Fire 1

Amazon’s made two big announcements in the last week – both about their Kindle Fire tablets. And now technology watchers are trying to put the pieces together, offering up their best guess about what Amazon is really up to!

Earlier this month, Amazon was temporarily sold out of their Kindle Touch – and bloggers took it as a sign that Amazon was about to release a new model within a week. Instead, Amazon announced a big press event for September 6th — exactly one week from today. And this morning, the anticipation continued to build as Amazon offered another tantalizing piece of information: that they’d sold every last one of their current Kindle Fire tablets, and they apparently weren’t going to make any more of this model.

“We’re grateful to the millions of customers who have made Kindle Fire the most successful product launch in the history of Amazon…” Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement, confirming Amazon was “sold out” of their current Kindle Fire, but adding that “we have an exciting roadmap ahead…” If you visit the current Kindle Fire’s page on Amazon, you’re now told that they’re available from “these sellers”. Amazon’s basically pointing to people who are selling used Kindle Fire tablets.

But why did Amazon discontinue sales of their original Kindle Fire tablets? Here’s some of the best theories.

Amazon Misjudged Their Own Launch Date
You can’t just stop the production of a technology product with one phone call. Amazon has to scheduled the delivery of all the necessary electronic components well in advance, and the Associated Press seems to think that today’s just the day that the parts ran out. (“Thursday’s announcement that the first model is ‘sold out’ suggests that Amazon halted production a while ago to retool for a new model.”) Unfortunately, this leaves Amazon with no tablets to sell for the next seven days. But maybe Amazon actually has something to gain by halting production…

Amazon’s Deliberately Raising Expectations
Amazon’s comment about an exciting upcoming “road map” seems like a not-so-coy hint that next week’s press conference will be about the next generation of Kindle Fire tablets. And at the technology site Slashdot, at least one poster thinks this is all part of a very deliberate campaign by Amazon. “This development strikes me as a classic ‘Build anticipation for KF2′ thing, not a ‘Phew, we got rid of the things. They were taking up space’ type complaint. ” Next week, when Amazon announces a new tablet, there’ll now be a full week of pent-up demand for a color Kindle tablets.

Amazon’s saving money
I stumbled across an interesting statistic this week. In November, Time magazine’s “Moneyland” site calculated that Amazon was actually losing money with its Amazon Prime shipping service — and that on average, Amazon was losing $11 for each Prime customer. “They must have been subsidizing the Kindle Fire,” argues another commenter at Slashdot. “That’s the only reason I can think of that they would stop making money [by ending Kindle Fire sales early]. It’s like how Microsoft used to lose money on every Xbox sold, or Sony and the PS3. They wanted a foot in the door of the market, and their next offering will be something that makes them money for each unit sold, rather than losing them money.”

What’s the real story? Who knows. But Amazon is obviously planning something big, . And if their plan was to increase the curiousity among Kindle owner — it’s working!

TV shows on Amazon Kindle Fire

I love Amazon’s supply of free videos that you can watch if you’ve signed up for their Prime shipping service. You can watch them through the web, or on a Kindle Fire tablet, or even on an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3. Even if you’re not a Prime subscriber, you can still watch them if you’re willing to pay a small fee — usually $1.99 per video. (And Amazon gives you a free one-month trial when you register your Kindle Fire tablet.) But I was fighting a cold on Monday, so I spent a whole day exploring which videos are available for free in the Prime section of Amazon’s “Instant Video” library — and there’s a lot of interesting things to choose from!

To browse the selection, just point your web browser to
tinyurl.com/PrimeInstantVideo

Last week Amazon even announced a licensing agreement with NBC, so now there’s an even bigger selection. (“We’re excited to be working with NBCUniversal to add their award-winning lineup of TV shows such as Parks and Recreation and Friday Night Lights to Prime Instant Video,” Amazon announced in a statement.) But Amazon’s Prime video library already had a pretty good selection of new and classic TV shows to choose from. Yesterday Amazon announced that their most watched TV show is Downton Abbey — but you’ll see many more familiar names on Amazon’s list of their most-popular TV shows.


Glee
My Name is Earl
24
The West Wing
Grey’s Anatomy

Science Fiction
Fringe
Doctor Who (Season 1)
Battlestar Galactica
Firefly
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Star Trek (the original series, Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager)
Red Dwarf
Stargate SG-1
The X-Files
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Lost
Alcatraz
The Twilight Zone

Comedy
Arrested Development
King of the Hill
Hot in Cleveland
Chappelle’s Show

’90s Favorites
Dawson’s Creek
Party of Five
21 Jump Street
Beverly Hills 90210
Ally McBeal
NYPD Blue

PBS / BBC
Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Fawlty Towers
The Civil War by Ken Burns
Upstairs, Downstairs
The Office (the original British version)
The French Chef with Julia Child
The Tudors

There’s also a surprisingly good selection of shows for children, including Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants, but also Jim Henson’s forgotten HBO show from the 1980s, Fraggle Rock. And I discovered that you can even delve back into the vault for classic children’s shows, including every single season of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, and the original Electric Company with Morgan Freeman, Bill Cosby, and Rita Moreno.

I was amazed that I my Kindle Fire pulled up TV shows that I hadn’t seen in more than 40 years, since I was a kid — including Archie cartoons from the 1960s! I used to come home from grade school to watch Gilligan’s Island or the original Star Trek — and now here were the same shows, being transmitted to my tiny handheld tablet! There’s even a selection of I Love Lucy episodes, plus “guilty pleasures” like Alf.

Of course, there’s also a pretty good selection of movies in Amazon’s Instant Video library, including some that are free to Prime subscribers.

    The Matrix Revolutions
    Ocean’s 11
    South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
and Team America
    Mission: Impossible (I and III)
    Beverly Hills Cop
    The Addams Family
    Food, Inc
    
Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
(the original Swedish version)
    What Just Happened
    The Return of the Pink Panther
    Bullitt
starring Steve McQueen
    Basic Instinct 2

Just like in the TV section, I also saw some movie titles here that I haven’t seen in decades – so it’s a lot of fun seeing just what Amazon has available. I recommend browsing the video section – especially if you have some time to kill!

To browse Amazon’s selection of free Prime videos, just
point your web browser to tinyurl.com/PrimeInstantVideo

When Parents Text and Anthony Bourdain Kitchen Confidential book covers

I’ve always enjoyed checking Amazon’s “Daily Deal” page to see what ebook they’re selling at a special discount. But there was a big surprise on the web page this morning. Amazon wasn’t just selling one ebook at a discount. They’ve discounted 25 of them!

Check out the selection at
tinyurl.com/DailyKindleDeal

It’s a one-day only sale — and it’s marking a very special occasion. “It’s the first anniversary of the Kindle Daily Deal,” the web page explains. “In celebration, we’re discounting 25 of our most popular Daily Deals from the past year — each of which reached #1 on the Kindle Books best-seller list–to just $1.99 each…” In some cases, that’s more than an 80% discount!

There’s a great selection to choose from, including several mysteries, some historical fiction, romances, and even a tell-all memoir by chef Anthony Bourdain. I was delighted to see a Kurt Vonnegut novel — Breakfast of Champions — was discounted to just $1.99. And there’s also some intriguing non-fiction books in the mix, including The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

But the ebook that looks most interesting to me is When Parents Text: So Much Said… So Little Understood. It’s drawn from a web site (called WhenParentsText.com ), which at one point was drawing over half a million pageviews a day, according to the book’s description at Amazon.com. The two recent college graduates who created this collection “have an unerring editorial instinct to select the funniest, sweetest, quirkiest, most-telling exchanges,” promises the book’s web page. And one of Amazon’s customers left an especially funny comment in their review of the book. “I have to admit that I am afraid to check out the website in case any of my texts are there!”

Here’s a complete list of the 25 popular ebooks that Amazon’s selling at a big discount on Friday…

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Brain Rules by John Medina

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano

High Heels Mysteries Boxed Set (Books 1-5) by Gemma Halliday

All She Ever Wanted by Barbara Freethy

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale

The Misremembered Man by Christina McKenna

The Detachment (A John Rain Thriller) by Barry Eisler

The Fifth Woman: A Kurt Wallander Mystery by Henning Mankell

Pearl of China: A Novel by Anchee Min

Dead and Berried (Gray Whale Inn Mysteries, No. 2) by Karen MacInerney

Slim to None by Jenny Gardiner

Death and the Lit Chick (A St. Just Mystery) by G.M. Malliet

The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson

The Phoenix Apostles (A Seneca Hunt Mystery) by Lynn Sholes

The Grail Conspiracy (A Cotten Stone Mystery) by Lynn Sholes

When Parents Text: So Much Said…So Little Understood by Sophia Fraioli

Deeply Devoted: A Novel (The Blue Willow Brides) by Maggie Brendan

Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith

Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini (A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery) by Sue Ann Jaffarian


You can find these books – and all Amazon’s daily deals – at
tinyurl.com/DailyKindleDeal

Amazon Discounts 500 eBooks!

August 21st, 2012

Monopoly man gets bank error in his favor cash

I just noticed that Amazon’s slashed the price on more than 500 ebooks, in a special sale that they’re calling “The Big Deal”. Some of the ebooks have been priced as low as 99 cents, with others at $1.99 or $2.99. And every one of the 500 ebooks are selling for less than $3.99. (For a shortcut to the sale, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/EbookBigDeal .)

“But hurry…” Amazon warns on the sale’s web site. “These deals expire on August 23, 2012.” (That’s Thursday!) And it’s really a big event. The last time Amazon ran a “big deal” sale, it was for just 200 ebooks. But this time, there’s 500 different ebooks that have all been reduced in price.

So what kind of books are on sale? Amazon lists seven categories on the book’s main page: Nonfiction, Fiction and Literature, Romance, Memoirs and Biographies, Health, Children’s Books, and books for teenagers. I enjoyed browsing through all the different categories, and discovered a wide variety of books (many from publishers I’ve never heard of). Here’s some of the titles that looked intriguing…


The Toaster Project: Or A Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch

It turns out that there’s 404 separate parts in an electric toaster, and British author Thomas Thwaites tried to build each one on his own. He had to construct his own home-made foundry in his mother’s back yard, and then used it to smelt the metal he’d try to mold into his toaster’s components. Along the way Thwaites learned many unexpected lessons, according to the book’s description on Amazon, including the fact that “plastic is almost impossible to make from scratch.” One reviewer described the book as both thoughtful and funny — and I have to admit that it’s a very intriguing premise.


Doctor Who: Series Two – Vol. 1

Geeks love the long-running (and low-budget) science fiction series, Doctor Who. It’s characters are now continuing their adventures in a series of comic books, and the first four issues have now been bound together into a classy color graphic novel by IDW Publishing. (It’ll look great on your Kindle Fire!) It’s written by science fiction author Tony Lee, and the book’s page at Amazon announces that “The Eleventh Doctor era begins here! Join the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor and his latest companions, Amy Pond and her husband Rory Williams, as they travel to the far reaches of space – a planet populated by holograms – and the distant past – where they become embroiled in the Jack the Ripper murders in Victorian London!”


Mitt Romney: A Politician’s Journey and Barack Obama: A Politician’s Journey

Who are these men who would be president? With the U.S. election just 11 weeks away, it’s nice to get a little context. Both these books are less than 40 pages long (and both were published over a year ago), and there’s currently only one review, so it’s hard to get a sense of how comprehensive they are. But I was intrigued because their publisher is Vook, and they’ve published some other ebooks which had contained audio and video clips. It looks like these books just include photographs — but I admit that there’s things I don’t know about both candidates, and it’s always interesting to see how their different careers led them both to the ultimate contest.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After

Author Steve Hockensmith has already sold more than 1.3 million copies of his original novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and its prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, both of which became New York Times best-sellers. “Now the PPZ trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion,” crows the book’s description at Amazon, promising yet another romp through the author’s alternate universe where characters from classical literature have to confront ravaging hoardes of the “unmentionables”. He’s long since exhuasted the plotlines from Jane Austen’s original novel, but he still retains hints of their romantic 19th-century themes, and includes love, redemption, and sensibility in the new adventures he’s imagining for her characters. In this novel, Elizabeth Darcy “learns of a miracle antidote under development in London,” according to the book’s description, and “realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love – and for everyone to live happily ever after.”


And if you’re looking for children’s books, there also a lot of familiar names among Amazon’s discounted ebooks, including SpongeBob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer, and the Berenstain Bears.


Remember, the sale ends Thursday.

If you’re interested in browsing Amazon’s discounted ebooks, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/EbookBigDeal

Esquire magazine's 2008 e-ink cover - The 21st Century Begins Now

It’s a legend in the magazine industry. In fact, it may be the most legendary magazine cover of all time. It was 2008, and Esquire magazine had wanted a special way to celebrate their 75th anniversary. So they commissioned a special “collector’s edition” which included a small e-ink screen that was embedded right in the magazine’s cover!

This was just 11 months after Amazon had released their very first Kindle, so there was something magical about seeing the same technology used for the cover of a magazine. Esquire touted it as an symbol of the future, demonstrating “a revolutionary technology that will change the way we all read paper magazines in the years ahead.” If you look today, you can still find videos of it on YouTube. It flashed the words “The 21st century begins now,” in bold, black letters, and it also included five color, thumbnail-sized photos.

It’s four years later, and I can still see those five photos on my copy today. (I have a theory that Esquire painted them onto the displays, and just used the battery-powered e-ink to display the words and to darken or brighten the pictures.) Tonight I found the old issue in a box of old papers, the same copy I’d bought at my local bookstore back in 2008. A lot’s changed since then — but it’s still pretty impressive!

They’d spent more than a year planning that special cover. In fact, it was actually a full eleven years ago that the magazine first started thinking about e-ink. Two of their editors had visited the start-up company that created the technology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, back in 2001. But at the time “the circuit boards, the power requirements — and the cost — just couldn’t be made small enough to use in a magazine,” Esquire‘s editors explained.

“Until last year…”

Even then, the logistics were incredible. The creators of e-ink had to create all the custom circuitry for the displays, designing something that was not only thin enough, but also flexible enough to bend like the rest of the magazine’s cover. And when the big day finally, came, the magazine was actually shipped in refrigerated trucks — from China to America — because the power supply wouldn’t drain as quickly if the magazine was stored at a cooler temperature! Even the magazine’s printing presses had to be carefully modified so the shocks from their binding machines wouldn’t damage the covers. In the end, each issue of the magazine travelled more than 7,000 miles. After the displays were assembled in China, they were flown across the Pacific ocean, where each one was then individually attached by hand, by a team of workers in Mexico.

“We think we’ve taken an important step into the future of magazine publishing,” Esquire concluded in the introduction at the front of their special edition.

“Or at least that we did something that looks pretty cool.”

Alice in Wonderland screenshot from Amazon Living Classics Facebook game

Last year I co-authored a game for Amazon’s Kindle. So imagine my surprise when I learned that Amazon had written a new game of their own. Plus, this game was about books — a chance to enter into the world of all your favorite storybook characters. But what’s even more interesting is that Amazon has just launched their own fancy game-creating studio!

“We’re so happy to finally be able to reveal the social game we’ve been hard at work on,” Amazon posted at Games.Amazon.com. It’s called “Living Classics,” and it’s a lavish production, with soaring classical music playing in the background, along with full-color pictures illustrating scenes from the books. It’s a “social game,” which means it’s currently available through Facebook at apps.facebook.com/LivingClassics, and Amazon’s encouraging you to play it with your friends. “We know that many Amazon customers enjoy playing games – including free-to-play social games,” they write, “and thanks to Amazon’s know-how, we believe we can deliver a great, accessible gaming experience that gamers and our customers can play any time.”

It seems possible that Amazon might eventually release a version for their Kindle Fire tablets. This spring they announced an upgrade to the features they were making available to Kindle Fire developers. It included the ability to make purchases from inside a Kindle Fire app — which is also something you can do in this new Facebook game, Living Classics. For $1.00, Amazon will sell you $5 of “virtual” cash that you can spend inside their game!

The web page explains that Amazon Game Studios “is exactly what it sounds like: a new team at Amazon that’s focused on creating innovative, fun and well-crafted games.” And I can’t wait to see what they come up with in future releases, and I’m really impressed by the quality of Living Classics…

So how does the game work? Amazon’s game presents you with a picture of a scene from a famous storybook. (For example, the first scene shows Alice in Wonderland receiving advice from that giant caterpillar…) They’re detailed scenes, but if you look closely, you’ll see that some of the characters are actually moving! The object of the game is to click on every one of the moving items — and to do it as quickly as possible!

Each time you succeed, you’re rewarded with a cartoon fox. (Your ultimate goal is to re-unite all the foxes who’ve gone missing from their family, and one fox returns for each picture that you successfully complete.) They’ve wandered into all kinds of different storybooks, including The Wizard of Oz, King Arthur, and even some Wild West Tales. “The foxes I drew with my magic ink have come to life,” explains an introductory letter on the game’s first page, “and gotten lost in their favorite books.

“Only someone with a good heart can find my foxes again, someone like you.”

Exciting New Ideas From Amazon

August 15th, 2012

Amazon sales print book vs ebook

It’s hard to keep up! While we’re waiting to see if Amazon’s going to announce some new Kindles, they’ve already quietly announced some other very big initiatives. There’s some good news for students, plus an interesting experiment that improves the way packages get delivered. And this week, Amazon even announced an exciting new feature for current Kindles!

Basically, Amazon’s created an extension for the Chrome web browser that lets you grab a copy of any page off of the web, and then have it sent to your Kindle! The content can even be sent to your Kindle apps, so you could also read those Kindle-ized web pages on your smartphone or tablet. And you don’t even have to send the whole web page — you can also just select part of the text. “We send just the content you want and not the distractions,” Amazon explains on their web page. (The new feature lets you preview everything before you send it, of course, so you can make sure all of the formatting is going to come through.)

A reporter at C|Net had the same question I had: what if you’re not using Chrome as your web browser? But apparently Amazon had already posted the answer in one of their Kindle forums. “Support for Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari is coming soon,” wrote an Amazon staffer named Kevin G. (Er, though he didn’t say anything about whether there’d also be a version made available for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer!)

It just goes to show you that Amazon’s still tinkering with new ways to improve their Kindles (and to sell you more ebooks and other products). Last week Amazon announced that they were going to let college students rent textbooks from Amazon, at a savings of up to 70% from what it would normally cost to purchase the textbooks! “At the end of the rental period, returns are free and simple with a prepaid, printable label,” Amazon explained in a press release. And they included an encouraging quote from Ripley MacDonald, Amazon’s Director of Textbooks. “It’s now easier than ever for students to get the books they need, in the format they want, at affordable price!” (The new service is available at amazon.com/textbooks )

But there’s an even more interesting experiment, which the Wall Street Journal described as “Amazon’s new secret weapon.” For the last year, Amazon’s been quietly installing metal lockers in 7-11’s and other convenience stores, as well as in drug stores and grocery stores, in four different cities, to test out whether it’s a better way to deliver the packages you’re ordering from Amazon. There’s at least 50 lockers scattered across Seattle, the Washington D.C. area, New York State, and now the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the Journal, which quotes Amazon’s web site as promise that they’re “adding new Amazon Locker locations every week.” Leaving packages on a customer’s doorstep has always been a little risky — and these lockers make it possible for Amazon’s customers to pick up their packages from a safe location, whenever they’re ready for it.

There’s just one problem. If this catches on, Amazon’s going to have to change their ad campaign where that woman comes home from work, and finds a Kindle Fire waiting for her on her doorstep!

New Amazon Kindle Fire ad

Kindle eBooks Set New Records

August 13th, 2012


The Kindle Fire tablet is still Amazon’s #1 bestselling product. In fact, it’s been their #1 bestseller ever since Amazon launched it in November. But there’s something even more interesting. The top ten best-selling items at Amazon were all ebooks, Kindles, and other digital products. There’s now not a single printed book among Amazon’s top 10 best-selling items!

As July was ending, I studied the latest news in Amazon’s quarterly report to their investors. It’s a good way to get some insights into exactly how the Kindle is changing the world of books. And sure enough, there was another startling statistic buried deep in Amazon’s sales figures. Between April and June, 20% of Amazon’s best-selling Kindle ebooks were created using Amazon’s own self-publishing platform (“Kindle Direct Publishing.”)

So Amazon’s not just an ebook seller . They’re also now becoming a major ebook publisher. And there’s hints that Amazon may now be earning a lot more money because of the Kindle. I couldn’t find a breakdown between Kindle and non-Kindle sales — but Amazon’s overall sales are now showing a very dramatic increases.

For example, in just April, May, and June, Amazon sold $12.83 billion worth of books, ebooks, and other products. That’s 29% more than it was last year during the same three months. And sales in North America grew even more, by 36%. I see that as one reason to at least suspect that Amazon’s increasing sales can be attributed to the Kindle Store…

If my math is correct, about 43% of Amazon’s sales are actually coming from outside of North America. Sales are growing there too, but at a slower rate — about 22%. So Amazon’s sales seem to be growing
much faster in the United States. And that’s also the country where the Kindle has had the most time to find an audience, since it’s been available in the U.S. for a full five years.

Sometimes I wonder if the Kindle actually increases “customer loyalty” to Amazon — so that Kindle owners are more likely to use Amazon’s web site when they’re shopping for other products. Whatever the case, Amazon’s expecting their higher sales will continue over the nextthree months of 2012, predicting they’ll see an increase of at least 19% over last year’s sales, and maybe even an increase as high as 31%!

And Amazon’s been lining up even more ways to attract you to Amazon products. You can watch over 18,000 movies and TV shows for free now on your Kindle Fire — or online — if you’re subscribed to Amazon’s Prime shipping program. (The Amazon Prime program offers free two-day deliveries for one yearly fee, or overnight delivery for $3.99.) Amazon announced during their quarterly report that there’s now 15 million different items available for Amazon’s Prime shipping program. And those 18,000 movies and TV shows are all also now available on the Xbox 360 console and the PlayStation 3, and even on compatible Blu-Ray players and “smart TVs”.

The most interesting statistic of all is the fact that Amazon’s net income actually dropped during those three months — by 96%! One year ago, they’d racked up $191 million for the same period, but this year they only had $7 million after expenses. About a third of that different went to cover Amazon’s acquisition of a company that uses robots to create automated warehouse systems for filling orders — but what’s Amazon doing with the rest of their profits?

Maybe they’re just spending that money on building the next generation of Kindles…!


Today Amazon announced a $110 discount on a Kindle DX tablet.It’s on their “Deal of the Day” page — so it’s one of their special one-day-only sales. (“Or until they’re all gone,” Amazon warns on the web page.) But it’s not the only Kindle-related discount that Amazon’s offering today. The page also includes a different “Lightning Deal” every hour — and every single one features a Kindle or a Kindle accessory!

You can find all Amazon’s deals at this URL:
tinyurl.com/Kindle1DaySale

Remember, each “lightning deal” lasts for only an hour — or until Amazon’s sold out of the discounted product! Below is a complete list of the deals for today, and a schedule for when they’ll be available.
(All times our PDT….)

10 a.m. Discounts on a leather Kindle Fire case.
11 a.m. A Kindle/Kindle Touch sleeve by BUILT
12 p.m. A Kindle Fire sleeve by BUILT
1 p.m. Kindle Fire speakers that are portable and re-chargeable
2 p.m. Power Adapters (for all Kindles)
3 p.m. “Dress up your Kindle Touch”
4 p.m. A lighted cover for your old Kindle Keyboard
5 p.m. Anti-glare screen protectors for Kindle Fire. (Three-pack)
6 p.m. A Kindle Fire desk stand by Kensington
7 p.m. A Kindle/Kindle Touch sleeve by BUILT
8 p.m. Kindle covers by Belkin (not for Kindle Touch)
9 p.m. More discounts on a leather Kindle Fire case.

Amazon’s blow-out sale is causing some extra excitement, because it might be a sign that they’re about to release new Kindles. “It’s the kind of deal you offer when you want to clear out inventory, fast,” posted reporter Brian Barrett at the technology blog Gizmodo. And he seems to have discovered another tantalizing clue. This morning Amazon was listing the current version of their Kindle Touch reader as out of stock!

I’ve since checked that web page, and Amazon’s now saying that the Kindle Touch will be available “in 4 to 7 days.” Brian sees this as a sign that all of Amazon’s newest Kindles are going to be released by next week. From a sales perspective, it’s just common sense, he concludes, writing that with an experienced seller like Amazon, there’s “no way it stays out of stock of some of its most popular products for more than a few days. And he remembers that the Kindle 2 “showed up as sold out the morning of July 28, 2010. That same afternoon, Amazon introduced Kindle 3 to the world.” Plus, the back-to-school shopping season is coming up soon, so Brian feels like the time is right for Amazon to make their big announcement. His conclusion?

“We’re going to see new Kindles of every stripe next week.”

Kindle - white vs graphic (vs a stack of books)

As the Olympics thrilled London, another small piece of history also happened online. Amazon announced that their U.K. web site was now selling more ebooks for the Kindle than they were selling printed books!

It marked just the two-year anniversary of the day Amazon released the Kindle in England – and there’s some even more impressive figures. Amazon added that Kindle owners in the U.K. purchase four times as many ebooks as they did printed books. For every 100 printed books Amazon sold there, they were now selling 114 ebooks. And the figures don’t even include the sales of Amazon-published ebooks in Apple’s iBookStore or through other online booksellers. “Customers in the UK are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books,” announced Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle for Europe, “even as our print business continues to grow. As a result of the success of Kindle, we’re selling more books than ever before…”

The news has generated some headlines – but it’s really just another milestone in a bigger ongoing story. Amazon had already revealed that ebooks were outselling printed books in America more than one year ago. Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced the news in a conference call with shareholders on June 7, 2011. And he’d shared the same surprising twist: an announcement that at the same time, Amazon was also selling more printed books than ever before.

I’m reminded of the schoolteacher who taught her 5th grade class with Kindles. One of the students said it had made reading cool. Instead of outdated old copies of old-fashioned books, the students could read digital texts, search them electronically, and even share their favorite highlights right on their Facebook pages. Maybe Amazon’s actually increased the world’s interest in reading itself. That could explain why Amazon’s also selling more printed books.

Jeff Bezos has a goal to create a “universal library, ” so they can always connect customers to the book they want — any book, any where. Amazon’s working that towards goal with “a team of missionaries,” Bezos told the investors, and maybe their enthusiasm is coming through the Kindles that they make. I love reading on my Kindle, and I like to think that Amazon understands that passion, and is just trying to keep sharing it with the rest of the world. I guess what I’m saying is that behind all the sales figures is a simple idea: that people will read more if you make it easy enough for them.

And that’s probably why Amazon is selling so many ebooks…

Dog licking a Kindle from Amazon TV ad

C|Net‘s reporting on a big 40% discount that Amazon’s now offering on their $79 Kindles, and also on most Kindle accessories. It lowers the price of a new Kindle to just $47, and the 40% discount also applies to covers, cases, and even chargers. The catch is you have to use an Amazon “Rewards” Visa card to make the purchase – but you can apply for one online. For a shortcut to the offer, just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/Kindle47. C|Net speculates that this big sale is a sign that Amazon is clearing out their inventory, because they expect to start shipping new Kindles soon!

The offer is only available through August 15, “or while supplies last,” but the discount applies to nearly every kind of Kindle accessory that’s available. “You can read what you want into this special sale,” write C|Net reporter David Carnoy, “but discounting certain e-ink Kindles to as low as $47 would seem to indicate that Amazon is starting to clear stock to make room for new models.” But whatever Amazon is thinking, it’s a great way for shoppers to save some money, especially on some “high-end” Kindle accessories which would normally be too expensive. “If you had your eye on one of those pricey Kindle Lighted Leather covers (for any Kindle model), this might be the time to put it in the cart, because you can pick one up for $36 instead of $59.99.”

But even without an Amazon Visa card, there may be another way to save money. C|Net reports that “it’s quite possible” that Amazon will also slash prices soon on refurbished Kindles, “as it has in the past.” It’s widely believed that Amazon will be launching a newer version of these Kindles very soon, which will then make it harder for them to sell these “previous-generation” models. I’m always delighted by how many ways there seem to be to save money on the purchase of a new Kindle.

And apparently I’m not the only one, at least judging by the comments on C|Net‘s story. “Thank goodness I got an Amazon.com credit card yesterday,” posted one user.

“Hellooooo Christmas presents!”

JK Rowlings, Stephen Colbert, and Tom Wolfe will release new books in 2012

The editors at Amazon see a lot of Kindle ebooks, and they’re really excited about some new upcoming releases. They’ve created a special web page for their “big fall books preview” for 2012, which includes books from seven different categories, plus their big final list of The 10 Most Intriguing Books of Fall! And best of all, the most of the books are being pre-sold at discounts of up to 46%

To see the list, point your web browser to tinyurl.com/AmazonFallBooks

“There’s plenty of great reading to go around,” announced Amazon’s Editorial Director of Books and Kindle, noting that the approach of autumn “tends to bring readers some of the best, most-sure-to-be-talked-about books…”

“This year’s lineup looks especially impressive.”

So what’s on the list? At the very top is a new novel by Michael Chabon (the author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay). He’s releasing a new novel called Telegraph Avenue which, according to Amazon’s editors, offers a “knowing” look at life “in politically correct northern California. And their #2 most-intriguing fall book is by Stephen Colbert, a parody of political books which he’s titled America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t But they also note that this fall will see the release of a new novel by Harry Potter author J. K. Rowlings — her first book for adults — a “blackly comic tale of a town in trouble,” titled The Casual Vacancy.

And Salman Rushdie is releasing a remarkable memoir about his life in hiding for nearly 10 years after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his death. He was “forced underground,”
according to the book’s description at Amazon, “moving from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team.” And when the police asked him to choose an alias, “he thought of writers he loved and combinations of their names,” eventually thinking of Conrad and Chekhov. He became Joseph Anton, and nearly 25 years later he’s finally telling the story of his experience, which he’s wryly titled Joseph Anton: A Memoir.

Other books on Amazon’s “Most Intriguing” list

The Twelve by Justin Cronin
“In a world ravaged by vampire apocalypse that began in The Passage, survivors band together to eradicate the origins of the virus.

Winter of the World by Ken Follett
“Follet’s Fall of Giants follow-up is doorstop of a tale of WWII and the nuclear age.”

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
“The effects of global warming have never been so fascinating–or beautiful–as in this novel by the beloved.”

NW by Zadie Smith
“A characteristically brilliant comic novel about four young people making their way in complicated London.”

The Oath by Jeffrey Toobin
“A surprising look at how two branches of government do–and don’t–get along.”

Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe
“Think The Bonfire of the Vanities goes to Miami. Class, race, politics–it’s all there, in Wolfe’s typically audacious style.”


In addition to these books, six different Amazon’s book editors have each announced their own personal most-anticipated books for this fall. They include Neil Young’s memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, plus a sequel to the children’s classic The Wind in the Willows by Jacqueline Kelly (complete with lavish new illustrations). And Amazon’s also previewing even more fall releases, with lists of intriguing books in seven different categories, including fiction, biographies, mysteries, cookbooks, children’s books, young adult books, and general nonfiction.

Remember, you can check out all of the exciting new books coming up this fall at tinyurl.com/AmazonFallBooks