More Fun Kindle News

Books inside an Amazon warehouse

Sometimes there’s so much interesting Kindle news, it’s hard to know where to start writing! Here’s a “lightning round” of some of the most interesting new developments in the Kindle world…


Amazon’s Discounting Kindle ebooks if You’ve Already Purchased a Print Edition!

I hadn’t really grasped the full significance of this, until Amazon’s Kindle Content Vice President turned up in an article about the upcoming upgrade to the Kindle Paperwhite. There’s a new service from Amazon called “Matchbook” which will let you buy the Kindle ebook version of print books you’ve bought from Amazon — even if you bought the book sometime long ago over the last 18 years! “If you logged onto your CompuServe account during the Clinton administration and bought a book like Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus from Amazon, Kindle MatchBook now makes it possible for that purchase—18 years later—to be added to your Kindle library at a very low cost,” explained Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice president of Kindle Content.


What The Kindle Paperwhite Really Means?

Everyone’s speculating on what clues we can learn about Amazon’s future plans from their upgrade to the Kindle Paperwhite. I thought The Huffington Post came up with a fairly skeptical take.. (“The upgraded Paperwhite comes at a time when sales of tablets — from companies like Apple, Samsung, Asus and Amazon itself — have eaten into sales of ereaders. Sales of Kindle ereaders — which make up almost half of ereader sales worldwide — peaked in 2011 and are expected to continue to decline over the next five years, according to IDC. The technology research firm predicts a drop in all ereader sales from a peak of 26.4 million worldwide in 2011 to 11.7 million in 2017.”) Although towards the end of their article, they talked to an analyst who says Amazon underestimated just how popular color tablet computers would become — but that ultimately, this may have just spawned a new strategy for Amazon, of focusing on that “small, voracious reader group” who still prefer a dedicated black-and-white reading device.

The analyst points out, “It also happens that they’re the ones that buy the most books!”

And Amazon insists they’re still committed to their dedicated digital readers, according to USA Today‘s interview with Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle Content, who announces confidently that “based on everything we know today there’ll be many more generations of our e-reading devices from here!”


Amazon’s Still Making TV Shows

There’s still moments of giddy euphoria where it feels like the entire world of media is being re-invented by the biggest technology companies. (It still feels exciting and new for me to watch blockbuster Hollywood movies on my hand-held Kindle Fire tablet — and even episodes of TV shows!) But even then, it still felt weird when Amazon announced last year that they were now producing their own digital TV shows — including one that starred John Goodman. That show was called Alpha House — its first episode had a funny cameo by Bill Murray — and it was one of the most popular shows among online voters when Amazon debuted it last year. And now Amazon’s announced that when they release new episodes — later this year and early next — they’ll be adding even more familiar big-name TV stars to the program. (Specifically, Cynthia Nixon from Sex and the City, Wanda Sykes from Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Amy Sedaris from Strangers with Candy. The show is a political satire written by Garry Trudeau, the cartoonist who created the newspaper comic strip Doonesbury — and I’m impressed by the way it tells a story and gets its laughs without specifically attacking any political targets…other than hypocrisy.


Amazon’s Warehouses Are Still Amazing

This last item isn’t really a news story, but it’s still fascinating. Towards the bottom of their article about the Kindle Paperwhite, The Huffington Post came up with some fascinating photos of the inside of an Amazon warehouse. It made me realize that, while I’ve imagined the stacks and stacks of books, I’ve never actually seen them! And there’s even more there than I’d ever dared to dream.

The future is a wonderful and unpredictable thing. I guess it pays to stop once in a while, and at least appreciate how wonderful the present can be, too!

Amazon Publishes MORE Funny Fake Reviews

The Daddle on Amazon

I always get a chuckle out of the funny reviews customers leave at Amazon — and apparently they’ve now become a regular part of Amazon’s own promotional materials! Today on the front page of Amazon, they’ve included a banner ad pointing to a “second installment” of their collection of the funniest customer reviews. “Back by customer demand,” Amazon’s ad proclaims — urging visitors to read the list “and submit your own favorites.” And this time, the funny reviews are for some even stranger products.

For a shortcut to the reviews, just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/MoreFunnyAmazonReviews. Here’s a list of the 10 more strange products where Amazon’s acknowledging the fake reviews.


Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife Giant

Officially Licensed Star Wars Luke Skywalker Ceremonial Jacket with Medal Of Yavin

Zenith Men’s 96.0529.4035/51.M Defy Xtreme Tourbillon Titanium Chronograph Watch (for $81,779.99)

UFO-02 Detector

The 2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China (for $495.00)

JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank (“Currently unavailable”)

Wolf Urine Lure-32 oz

The Daddle

A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates

White Face Paint

Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife Giant

Some of my favorites are for the “Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife Giant”, a 7.2-pound rectangle that’s filled with dozens of additional utensils. “I’ve always wanted to own a pocket knife that was too large to fit in my pocket and here it is!” joked one customer named “MrLiar”. And another funny review made the same point in a story. “Found this stuck into a stone while on vacation… Unfortunately, it turns out that removing it made me the new king of Switzerland, which is a lot of responsibility.”

Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the fantasy ends and the real product begins — for example, in the reviews Amazon linked to for the “UFO-02 Detector”. Retailing for just $74.95, it comes in an “elegantly designed transparent plastic case” which lets you monitor its 16 LEDs which will flash and beep simultaneously when it detects any electromagnetic anomalies. One unconvinced reviewer posted simply that it wasn’t working, and “I am still getting abducted by UFO’s on a regular basis.” Ironically, when you pull up page on Amazon, they’ve included a link to a buyer’s guide about radar detectors — in case you want to compare their respective abilities to detect UFOs.

But best of all, another funny review was actually posted by George Takei — an actor from the original Star Trek series (and now a popular online celebrity). “I purchased this gizmo to play a prank on my husband Brad, who still prattles on about his ‘fourth-kind’ encounter when he was just thirteen…” Takei writes in his review. But that night when the 16 LED lights started their bleeping and flashing, Takei complains that he was confronted by an extra-terrestrial manifestation who’d come to warn him that “what we loosely dub the Singularity was only the beginning of a limitless existence unbounded by physical space and time, and that sugar-free alternatives are actually WORSE for us than the real deal…!”

4,714 Amazon customers voted his review as helpful!


Read all the new funny, fake Amazon reviews at:
tinyurl.com/MoreFunnyAmazonReviews

UFO 02 Detector

More Funny Fake Reviews – on a $4.5 Million Painting!

Amazon_Art_logo

We’ve had a lot of fun laughing at the funny fake reviews people have posted on Amazon. And I was really impressed when Amazon joined in the fun last month, posting their own list of their favorite funny customer reviews. But this month, it’s taken an even stranger turn. Because customers are now leaving fake reviews on works of fine art, which are being sold on Amazon for millions of dollars!

“Is shipping extra?” joked one review. “Not expensive enough,” joked another — one of many reviewers pretending to be the kind of people who could actually afford to purchase a $4.5 million painting. “I was debating between this and a Minnie Mouse poster for my daughter’s room,” joked another reviewer located in San Jose.”Bought this one and put it up.

“I don’t think she quite likes it, so I will probably have to still buy the Minnie Mouse poster…”

The $4.5 million painting is by Norman Rockwell, and Amazon describes it as a recently discovered oil-on-canvas — part of a series of paintings about a young U.S. soldier named Willie Gillis. (“According to the Wall Street Journal, it ‘hung in the headquarters of an undisclosed local company since 1968, when heirs of the painting’s original owner gave it to the corporation during a merger’…”) The Journal notes that it’s rare when a new painting by the artist actually becomes available for purchase. But it’s probably even more rare for them to be sold through Amazon.com.

“After years of living with this ugly crack in my basement wall I finally found the right size painting to cover it!” joked another fake review of the $4.5-million painting. (It was voted “Helpful” by 17 out of 27 reviewers…) And it’s not the only expensive painting which is drawing some sarcastic comments about its price tag, since Amazon’s also selling an original painting by Andy Warhol for $1.45 million. “Pick up two or three if you can get your hands on them,” suggested one reviewer. And another reviewer even told a longer story about “improving” the painting with a bottle of Lysol.

“I looked closely at it with a flashlight, but I didn’t see any numbers so they must just leave it up to the buyer to add his or her favorite colors wherever…”

Amazon entered the art marketplace just last month, announcing that “We’re thrilled to bring the excitement and emotional connection of art to our customers…” They’ve lined up more than 40,000 works of fine art from over 150 galleries and dealers, and more than 4,500 artists, according to Amazon’s press release. (“We are excited to bring one of the largest selections of fine art direct from galleries to our customers…”) Though it still makes me laugh when paintings with a multi-million dollar price tag are listed with the same buttons as other Amazon products — like “Add to Wish List” and “Add to Cart”.

Most of the paintings are actually listed for less than $10,000, so it’s not just millionaires who could consider a purchase. And to be fair, at least one of the galleries — Paddle8 Editions — actually sells their artworks solely to raise money for non-profits and cultural institutions, and they’re actually pretty excited about the opportunity to reach even more customers. But it’s hard to overlook the oddity of selling fine art on the same web site that sells rubber horse masks and educational uranium samples — and to let random shoppers leave behind their reviews. When they first launched their fine art page, Amazon was even offering a chance to purchase a Claude Monet painting — L’Enfant a la tasse — for $1.45 million.

“Very amateurish quality,” joked one reviewer who called himself Art Guy. “My 9-year old son could do a better job…!”

My Favorite eBook Bargains

Amazon Kindle 399 ebook sale

I just made a startling discovery. Amazon discounted a bunch of ebooks last month — but they’re still offering those same discounts for most of those books in September! For example, I’d spotted three great ebooks last month that were on sale – and I’m delighted to see that they’re all still available at a discounted price. Amazon’s offering discounts on a Kindle ebook about one of the world’s most popular detectives, one of the world’s most popular rock and roll bands, and one very popular recent TV show.

But hurry! I don’t know how long these special discounts will last…

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie ($2.99)

There’s a fascinating story behind this mystery novel. Agatha Christie wrote nearly 70 mystery novels during a career which spanned nearly 60 years — including 12 about a detective named Miss Marple — but in 1976, after Christie’s death at the age of 85, her very last Miss Marple novel was published posthumously. And Amazon’s now offering a discount on its Kindle ebook edition. It’s already become Amazon’s #256 best-selling ebook in the entire Kindle Store — and its #1 best-selling mystery in Amazon’s “British Detectives” category. I like how one reviewer noted that the 224-page thriller finds Miss Marple self-effacing and shrewd, “almost as if she knew she wouldn’t be around much longer”, and she warns a couple who move into a mysterious new house that a murder in the past is like a sleeping murder…which just might wake up!


It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll: Thirty Years Married to a Rolling Stone by Jo Wood ($2.99)

Yes, it’s Ron Wood’s wife — offering up what Amazon promises is a “behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the biggest rock bands in history. Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones’ guitarist, had already written a best-selling biography about his own life, but it’s interesting to get some perspective from one of the bandmember’s wives, who according to the book’s description delivers a “startlingly honest, laugh-out-loud memoir vividly describes life on tour, in the studio, at the legendary parties — and every raucous moment in between.” (At one point, her husband announces that he’s leaving her for an 18-year-old waitress…)

The book is illustrated with never-before-seen photographs from her personal collection, creating “a compelling piece of rock ‘n’ roll history from a woman with a backstage pass and a front-row seat,” Amazon adds, noting that mixed in with the euphoria and the recklnessness is a story that’s “Enchanting, candid, and moving… [a] page-turning fairy tale of fame and fortune.”


How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein ($2.99)

“It was not a drunken cartographer after all,” jokes one Amazon reviewer, applauding this book for uncovering the forgotten stories from American history that explain the surprisingly and unusual decisions that went into each state’s boundary lines. (“In 1846,” notes Publisher’s Weekly, “Washington D.C. residents south of the Potomac successfully petitioned to rejoin Virginia…order to keep out free African-Americans.”) Why does Delaware actually own a small part of the southwest short of New Jersey? Why does Rhode Island even have “island” in it’s name? It turns out that there’s actually answers that explain the strange shapes of all the states on America’s map. “When I lived in Mobile, I puzzled for years over Alabama’s ‘tab’ at the south,” notes one Amazon reviewer. “My guess was that it had something to do with giving the state a gulf shoreline. (Maybe for condos?)” But thanks to this book, the reviewer finally discovered the real answer: “It’s all Florida’s fault.

Note: Amazon’s also offering a discount on the professionally-narrated audiobook version of How the States Got Their Shape. When you purchase the ebook, you can then purchase the audiobook for just $3.99!


Remember: there’s also new discounted ebooks each month at
tinyurl.com/399books

Amazon Announces a New Kindle Paperwhite!

The new Kindle Paperwhite

Big news! There’s a new version of the Kindle Paperwhite! Amazon’s just revealed all the improvements — and posted an inspiring message about them on the front page of Amazon.com.

We believe in the power and importance of reading. We are passionate about books. Books convey knowledge, spread ideas, and can transport you into alternate lives and worlds. It’s why we’re working so hard to help people readm ore and get more out of reading…

Today we’re excited to announce another milestone in our journey — the all-new Kindle Paperwhite.


For a shortcut to Amazon’s page about their newest Kindle, just point your web browser to:

tinyurl.com/NewPaperwhite


So what’s new in Amazon’s latest and greatest Kindle Paperwhite? First off, they’ve added some new technology to the display, so the contrast is even higher. And they’re also promising that the built-in glow effect is now coming from a “next generation” light. Inside the Kindle, its computer chips are supposed to be 25% faster, so the pages will turn faster when you’re reading an ebook, and you’ll wait a little bit less when you first open it for the text to appear on your screen. And apparently Amazon has made the touchscreen even more responsive for the new Kindle Paperwhite. According to their press release, its touch grid is now “19% tighter” — making it respond even more accurately, even to very light touches.

“The new Paperwhite is our best ever, with a new higher contrast display…” Amazon promises. And they’ve also added some brand new features…

  • “Page Flip” — a new feature which lets you skip ahead to another chapter (or even to skim through books, page by page…)

  • “Vocabulary Builder” — the new Kindle Paperwhite now keeps track of which words you’ve looked up, and then automatically creates flashcards which you can review later

  • Goodreads Integration — They’re integrating content from Goodreads.com so it’s available from your ebooks, so you’ll be able to share your recommendations while you’re thinking about them and interact with other “like-minded readers…and decide what to read next!”

  • “Smart Lookup” – Instead of just giving you a dictionary definition of individual words, Smart Lookup can recognize important topics and phrases, according to Amazon’s press release, and can provide more detailed information information.

    Smart Lookup on Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon ended their note with a reminder that for the last six years, the Kindle has been the best-selling e-reader in the world — and that when it comes to innovation, “No one is investing on behalf of readers or pushing the boundaries of hardware, software, and content for readers like the Kindle team.”

“We hope you enjoy the new Kindle Paperwhite. Happy reading.”


The new Kindle Paperwhites will start shipping this month — on Monday, September 30th — but you can already pre-order them now. For a shortcut, just point your web browser to:

tinyurl.com/NewPaperwhite

Reading the Kindle Paperwhite at night