Zombies on your Kindle!

Cover illustration from R. L. Stine's Goosebumps zombie high school ebook

I have a special holiday tradition. Each year on Halloween, I creep up on the Kindle Store, and take a peek at just how many zombie titles have crawled out into the marketplace. On Halloween night in 2011, there were 2,269 different Kindle ebooks with their word “zombie” in their title. But by 2012, that number had more than doubled, with 4,874 zombie ebooks now available on the Kindle. And this year? OMG!

Amazon’s Kindle store now has 8,052 zombie ebooks!

I’ve joked about the “rising zombie ebook invasion,” but the numbers really do show an unmistakeable trend. One Halloween, I noticed that one of the top 100 free ebooks in the Kindle Store was something called Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. But the real message may be that each Halloween, there’s more and more self-published authors who are writing zombie fiction. Even the Library of Congress only has 674 books with the word “zombie” in their title (up from 523 in 2011 and 601 in 2012). Oh my god, run everybody — Amazon’s Kindle store now has nearly 12 times as many zombies!!!

Even if they’re not real zombies, there’s something that’s almost viral about their popularity, suggesting that the Kindle store’s amateur authors are especially attracted to the zombie genre. Or are they? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the amateurs from the pros. Take a peek at the new titles, and you’ll be startled at just how many zombie ebooks there are. Don’t look now, but the living dead could be shambling up to your Kindle!

Here’s some of the stranger ebooks.


Zombie Girl Invasion
Wesley and the Sex Zombies (Free!)
The Scarlet Zombie Sketchbook #1
Zombie Day Care (Free!)

A Girl’s Guide To Falling In Love With A Zombie
Rock And Roll Reform School Zombies
My Life as A White Trash Zombie

Zombie Lust and The New Flesh
How to Make Love like a Zombie
Zombie Road Trip
Jesus vs. the Zombies of Perdition


To be fair, “Texas Biker Zombies From Outer Space” is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, “intentionally designed to give the reader an interactive experience using the advantages over print that E-Books allow.” And Zombie Spaceship Wasteland was written by actor/comedian Patton Oswalt, using the horror movie monsters as a metaphor in a collection of essays “vividly evoking his zombie-like co-worker,” according to Booklist‘s review. Even 71-year-old literary author Joyce Carol Oates — twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize — named her 1996 novel Zombie (P.S.) It’s about a serial killer — named Zombie — who keeps a diary as he pursues his victims.

But yeah, most of the titles in the Kindle Store aren’t as ambitious.


I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It
Married with Zombies
Zombie Blondes
Zombies Eat Lawyers

Confessions of a Zombie’s Wife
Slow and Sweet: A Love Story, With Zombies
Zombie Erotica: An Undead Anthology
Never Slow Dance with a Zombie

A Cold Dark School with Zombies at the Gates
Zombie Queen of Newbury High
Zombie Fight Song
Jesus Camp Zombie Bloodbath

The Code of the Zombie Pirate
Battle of the Network Zombies
Hungry for Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance
Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie


I can understand why some of these books aren’t in the Library of Congress. (It’s probably more surprising that there’s any zombie books in the Library of Congress.) But to explore the popularity of stories about the shambling undead, I asked my friend Thomas Roche, a professional writer for more than 15 years, who’s just published his first novel about zombies. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten a quote back.

I think zombies may have actually eaten his brains.

Or maybe he’s just busy reading all the ebooks he’s competing with…


Goddamn Redneck Surfer Zombies
Zombie Dawn Apocalypse
Breaking News: an Autozombiography
Brains For Lunch: A Zombie Novel in Haiku?!

Road Kill: A Zombie Tale
I, Zombie
The Christian Zombie Killer’s Handbook
Zombie Hero #3: “Keep On Truckin”

Zombie Combat Manual
The Zurvivalist – Real Life Solutions to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
Zombology: A Zombie Anthology
Brains: A Zombie Memoir

Zombie Sniper
You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News
Zombie P.I.
Why I Quit Zombie School


That last book is actually the newest book in R. L. Stine’s popular “Goosebumps” series of scary stories for younger readers (which have sold more than 350 million copies. I used its colorful cover at the top of this blog post. It’s easy to laugh at the titles, but they may have tapped into a storyline with some primal universal appeal. Some authors have enjoyed wild success by re-creating our darkest nightmares, and maybe that’s the ultimate irony.

It’s not that the zombies are attracted to our brains. It’s that our brains are attracted to zombies!


Zombies vs Unicorns
Zombies Sold Separately
Zombies and Power Tools
Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime: A Book of Zombie Love Songs

Zombie Jamboree
Zombie Safari
Zombies for Jesus
Attack of the Shark-Headed Zombies

Jailbait Zombie
What Do You Do With Dead Zombies?
Zombiestan
Forward, Shamble!: A Bob the Zombie Novel

The Art of War for Zombies – Ancient Chinese Secrets of World Domination, Apocalypse Edition
Superheroes vs Zombies
The Adventures of Zombie Boy
Zombie Butts from Uranus


There’s even zombie Christmas books, believe it or not, including A Zombie Christmas Carol and A Christmas Carol of the Living Dead: a zombie holiday tale. (Plus A Zombie Christmas and “A Christmas Wish: A Zombie Tale for the Holidays.”) If you think that’s confusing, try reading The Christmas Zombie: The story of why zombies celebrate Christmas. And if you’re just looking for holiday cheer, there’s It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies (Christmas carols “composed specifically for…the decomposing).”

Some authors have also tried their hand at creating zombie books for other holidays. (Like Dangerous Hunts: A Zombie Father’s Day Tale.”) And A Very Zombie Holiday even follows a zombie father as he attempts to celebrate every holiday with his living family. If you’re after a classic bedtime story, there’s Snow White and the Seven Dead Dwarves: A Zombie Fairy Tale.” And for educational purposes, there’s also something called Zombie Ed Counts To Twenty, and its sequel, Zombie Ed Loves Halloween. (“Text-to-speech enabled… Finally! A zombie book for children! “)

And — uh-oh. Here comes another wave of more strange zombie ebooks…


Zombies vs. Nazis
Don of the Dead: A Mafia Zombie Novel
The Zombie Cookbook
“Rednecks Who Shoot Zombies, on the Next Geraldo”

501 Things to do with a Zombie
Zombies Wearing Hats
Zombies Hate Vegetables, Too
Grampa’s Zombie BBQ

Frankenstein, The Zombie Hunter
Love in a Time of Zombies
An Inconvenient Amish Zombie Left Behind The Da Vinci Diet Code Truth
Zombies Don’t Play Soccer

Dr. Zombie Lives Next Door
Zombies Ride Motorcycles
Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion
Zombies at the Bar Mitzvah


I’m not sure what to make of an ebook called James Joyce and the Zombie Priest, though it’s attracted at least one positive review on its web page at Amazon. (“If there is a better zombie version of Araby by James Joyce, it would be news to me!”) This trend probably all started when real-world bookstores started seeing big sales of a 2009 parody novel called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (crediting Jane Austen as a co-author). It rose to #3 on the New York Times best-seller list, according to Wikipedia, apparently spawning a new generation of even stranger zombie novels — and zombie ebooks. There’s even a Garrison Keillor parody called The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten that’s attributed to an author named Harrison Geillor. (“The humor in this parody lies in the simple truth that even a zombie bear with a hatchet in its head won’t faze a Minnesotan,” writes Publisher’s Weekly.)

And there’s zombie parodies of other books — like Zombies of Oz (and The Terrible Zombie of Oz). There’s also The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim and Wuthering Heights and a Werewolf…and a Zombie Too.” Someone’s even written zombie versions of two Sherlock Holmes stories, a book of zombie fairy tales, and a zombie version of The War of the Worlds (“plus Blood, Guts, and Zombies”). And if you liked Great Expectations, you might try Pip and the Zombies, by Charles Dickens and Louis Skipper.

In the two years since Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the concept has apparently festered its way into a full-fledged literary movement. I was surprised to see a book titled simply Zombies for Zombies — until I realized it was a parody of the “For Dummies” book (receiving thirteen 5-star reviews). There’s also The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zombies, which strangely is not a parody, but an official title in the “Idiot’s Guide” series, which traces the origin of zombie stories with chapters about books, movies, and comic books. But just when it couldn’t get any creepier, I discovered that there’s even some zombie books that are actually about personal investing.


Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance
How to Prosper During the Coming Zombie Apocalypse
Workplace Of The Living Dead: What Zombies Can Teach Leaders About Engaging Employees
Zombie Project Management


And there’s also some zombie history books. (Which, honestly, throws some doubt over their historical accuracy.)


A Zombie’s History of the United States
A Tale of Zombies in Czarist Russia
A Tale of Zombies in the Old West
Everything My Grandmother Taught Me about Killing Zombies
The Eagle has Re-Animated
Pappy’s Old Time Zombie Radio Show
Zombies Take Manhattan


There’s something strangely inspiring about the sheer number of books that have ultimately been inspired about zombies. It’s nice to see this massive outpouring of new creativity, as people all around the globe start wondering what’s going to happen in their own imaginary zombie scenario. In fact, zombies are turning up in a surprising variety of different kinds of books. Though some authors even seem to think that maybe the lonely zombies just need a friend…


Zachary Zombie and the Lost Boy
Jude and the Zombies
Peter Crombie, Teenage Zombie
Nobody Wants to Play With Zombie Jesus

Jasper, the Friendly Zombie
How I met Barbara the Zombie Hunter
The Student from Zombie Island
Zombie Joe and the Pogo Stick legs

Growing Up Zombie
Oh No, Our Best Friend is a Zombie!
Timothy Holbrook and the Zombie Curse
Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies

Zombie Mommy
Phredde and the Zombie Librarian
Day of the Field Trip Zombies
Mom and Dad Aren’t Getting Along (Now That Mom’s a Zombie)



Maybe they were also inspired by the success of the Twilight series of books about a vampire’s teenaged romance. (One ebook author has even written Vampire Among the Zombies.) But I had to laugh when I saw an ebook titled “Where are the Zombies?”

Dude, you’re not paying attention. They’re everywhere!

Amazon Offers Free Kindle eBooks For your Print-Book Purchases

Curious George
I was really surprised when I first heard the news on the Kindle’s page on Facebook. “Imagine you bought a book from Amazon 18 years ago… and then 18 years later, you could add that book to your Kindle library for free or no more than $2.99. We call it Kindle MatchBook, available starting today.”

For a shortcut, just point your web browser to
tinyurl.com/KindleMatch

At that URL, Amazon offers a link that displays a list of every print book you’ve purchased from Amazon in the last 18 years that’s now available as a free (or discounted) Kindle ebook. “Over 70,000 books are enrolled in Kindle MatchBook,” Amazon explains in a press release — adding that every day, even more Kindle ebooks will become available. “It’s been great to see the positive response to MatchBook from both readers and publishers,” announceds Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle Content, noting that it took just a couple of weeks for the number of titles to jump from 10,000 to 70,000 — and predicting even bigger jumps in the months ahead.

I’ve never seen anything like this — and it’s stunning to see the scope of this program. “Print purchases all the way back to 1995 – when Amazon first opened its online bookstore – will qualify once a publisher enrolls a title in Kindle MatchBook,” Amazon explained in today’s announcement. The only bad news is I haven’t purchased many of the print editions which would qualify me for the big Kindle discount. This morning I clicked the link at Kindle Matchbook, and discovered there was only one Kindle ebook where I’d qualify for a discount: the children’s picture book Curious George.

But even that brought back a happy memory. At first I couldn’t even remember buying the book — and why had I bought it in 2006? Then I remembered a friend of mine who’d been teaching children in the Marshall Islands. I started a campaign to show her some support, suggesting to her friends online that we should all mail her one of our own favorite children’s picture books (from when we were schoolchildren). And I’d thought that the children in the Marshall Islands might enjoy the story about the happy monkey in the jungle who meets up with a Man in the Yellow Hat!

I enjoyed that experience, because it’s fun to share the joy of reading — and in a small way, I feel like Amazon is offering a similar experience. Kindle owners are getting a chance to read a lot of ebooks that Amazon knows we’re going to like — because at some point in the last 18 years, we’ve already purchased a copy! Of course, Amazon is also encouraging people to start doing their reading on their Kindles — but like a lot of stories, it all comes down to one basic truth.

Reading is fun, no matter where you do it. (Or, in the case of Amazon’s KindleMatchbook program — no matter when you did it!) :)

For a shortcut, just point your web browser to
tinyurl.com/KindleMatch

My Favorite Free Halloween eBooks

Edgar Allen Poe

It’s a cold, blustery October night, and there’s leaves blowing against my window. It’s the perfect time for remembering some of the greatest scary stories ever written — especially since they’re all now available as free Kindle ebooks!


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

Ichabod Crane had heard the ghost stories about a headless horseman that rides through the night. On that very night, traveling home alone himself, under the light of a full moon he has his own legendary encounter with…ah, but there’s a twist at the end. And all these years after first hearing the story, I’ve discovered it’s just part of a much larger work. Washington Irving was the very first best-selling author in America, and he’d followed up his first sensational debut with a new collection of essays and stories — including some scary new folk tales that he’d actually made up himself! This collection also includes the famous story of Rip Van Winkle, who falls asleep before the American Revolution — and wakes up 20 years later, after the colonies have revolted and formed their own independent nation!


The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe wrote a surprising number of America’s best-known horror stories, including Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum. His poetry is also very dark — Ulalume actually takes place around Halloween night — but his obsession with morbid themes also ultimately led him to become the author of the first detective story every written. It’s a murder mystery, of course — you’ll never guess who actually committed The Murders in the Rue Morgue — and Poe later even wrote two more stories using the same detective — The Mystery of Marie Rogêt and The Purloined Letter. But there’s also a surprisingly scary tale where a murderer is unmasked in the most shocking way possible — entitled “Thou Art the Man”. Twist endings were actually very popular in Poe’s time, and I’ve been surprised just how well some of his stories hold up!


Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Percy Shelley died when he was 29 — though he was acclaimed as one of England’s greatest romantic poets. Some of this is through the efforts of his wife Mary, who promoted and edited his poems. And it’s been said that he may have had an infleunce himself on her intense novel, Frankenstein. Its idea came from a nightmare, and turned into her gothic story about about a promising young man who suffers the death of a loved one, and then embarks on a scientific experiment which he’ll later come to regret. It was first published anonymously in 1818, though it’s since gone on to become a classic monster story. (And Wikipedia has uncovered another strange historical twist. Mary WollstonecraftShelley was actually romantically interested in Washington Irving, the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow!)


Dracula by Bram Stoker

Written just 126 years ago, Dracula is relatively modern for a classic horror story. Its author, Bram Stoker actually died in poverty just 14 years after publishing Dracula, according to Wikipedia, and his horror novel didn’t become popular until well into the next century. (It just goes to show how the invention of moving pictures changed everything — including the way we experienced our monster stories.) But interestingly, an early fan of the novel was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the Sherlock Holmes series. If you reach back 100 years, you’ll find lots of clever authors who appreciated both mystery and menace — and the joys of a good scary novel.

And 100 years later, you can read them all for free on your Kindle!

Amazon Announces New Geeky Toy List

Mattel's Barbie Digital Dress

Sometimes I’m just a big kid — and I love how Amazon’s created a special page with their “top picks” for new holiday gifts. (For a shortcut, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/AmazonToyList ) And last week Amazon finally announced their 2013 picks — adding that for the first time ever, it’s including toys that were voted on by “Amazon Moms”, a free program that offers discounts to parents on supplies from their children. Amazon’s goal, of course, is to create what they’re calling “a one-stop destination for holiday shoppers.” But it’s still fun to browse through their selections…and window shop for all the fun toys!

For example, did you know that a large Kindle Fire HD (with an 8.9-inch screen) now costs just $229? It’s one of Amazon’s top gift suggestions in their “Electronics” category (of course) — though it’s competing with nine different Furbies. But the coolest electronic gadget is, strangely enough, a new digital Barbie Doll from Mattel. She’s wearing a dress with real flashing LED lights, “combining fashion, sound-activation and on-trend technology” (according to Barbie’s web page on Amazon.) Little girls can punch in their own rhythms, or use one of Barbie’s built-in light shows — and here’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear. “Barbie doll’s black dress uses a 4.5 square inch resistive touch panel and 114 tri-color LEDs…”

Amazon’s also selling — and I’m not kidding — an Angry Birds Advent Calendar. There’s little gifts behind each square, and the game comes with little Angry Birds that you can actually shoot at stacks of little blocks — using a real-life version of that catapult from the Angry Birds phone app! “Now you can bring the Angry Birds experience from your smartphone to real life,” explains the web page at Amazon, which identifies it as one of the best gifts for children of 2013. It’s also an Amazon exclusive, and according to at least one reviewer on Amazon, “If you are a fan of Angry Birds, you absolutely MUST have this set. It is so adorable!”

Angry Birds Advent Calendar

Amazon’s also selling a speaker that you can plug in to your Kindle Fire that’s shaped like Minnie Mouse! It’s got a standard speaker jack, so it works with any audio source, and its web page on Amazon promises a “size-defying sound”. There’s also one shaped like Iron Man from the Avengers — or Captain America, and even Spongebob Squarepants.

And I thought it was cool that now you can even buy your daughter a pink journal that’s protected by digital technology. It only opens when its owner speaks a password into a microphone — and the journal even uses voice-recognition technology to make sure that the password was spoken by the right person! It’s manufactured by Mattel, and the Password Journal also comes with an “invisible ink pen” — so girls can write messages which can only be seen when they’re light up with the journal’s built-in ultraviolet light. And behind the journal (built into its pink plastic case), there’s a hidden “secret compartment” which has its own second password. Girls can even record a greeting, which is played back every time they open it up!

Mattel's Password Journal

But the most exciting thing about Amazon’s “Holiday Toy List” is the fact that they’ve incorporated one of my all-time favorite Amazon features — the “Lightning Deals”. Every day for a few hours, they sell a small quantity of a specific item at a big discount. Amazon tracks exactly how many seconds are left for the offer, and what percentage of the item has already been sold! (Right now they’re offering a 40% discount on Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles — a hardcover book giving you all the backstory on your that little Yoda “minifig” from Lego — and with 20 minutes and 43 seconds left to go, they’ve already sold off 47% of them.) Like I said, sometimes I’m just a big kid — especially when it comes to cool, cutting-edge toys.

And now Amazon’s collected them all together into one place — and started selling them at a discount!

For a shortcut, just point your browser to
tinyurl.com/AmazonToyList

The Kindle Fire HDX is NOT the Best Tablet Ever?

Kindle Fire HDX shows Iron Man

I really enjoyed CNN’s review of the newest Kindle Paperwhite, which they’d called “the best digital reader ever.” So I had to laugh when I saw a review for Amazon’s new color table, the Kindle Fire HDX. Business Insider gave a review with a headline that was exactly opposite. They wrote that newest Kindle Fire was “Not The Best Tablet You Can Buy”.

But they still called it Amazon’s best tablet ever.

So what did they like about the tablet? First, its 7-inch screen “is sharper than the relatively weak display on Apple’s iPad Mini”. And the design of the tablet has been improved too, so it’s now got a comfortable angular shaped (as opposed to the box-with-rounded-corners design of the earlier Kindle Fires). Their reviewer, Steve Kovach, ultimately concludes that the device’s battery life was “pretty good,” lasting about six or seven hours on a single charge. And I think that’s a bigger deal than he recognizes, because high-definition screens always do tend to use up more of your battery’s charge.

So what didn’t he like? Hisfirst real complaint seemed to be that Amazon’s app store has a lot fewer apps than Google’s own app store (which is available on most other devices). He even writes that the selection of apps for the Kindle Fire is “tiny” — just 85,000, versus the nearly 1 million that are available in Google’s store. But ultimately I think the reviewer makes a mistake when he writes that the Kindle Fire is “missing” popular Google services like YouTube and Gmail. You can watch YouTube videos just fine on a Kindle Fire if you download a free third-party app like FREEdi YouTube player — and you can also set up the e-mail application on your Kindle Fire so it’s downloading its email from Gmail.

I think Business Insider makes that mistake because it fits into their larger percerption — that just like the earlier version of the tablet, the Kindle Fire HDX “is a pitchman that tries to entice you to buy more stuff from Amazon at every turn…. The tablet is constantly encouraging you to dip into the bank and buy more stuff from Amazon.” But their reviewer acknowledges that there’s a perfectly good reason why Amazon is doing this, calling it “part of the reason why you can get the Kindle Fire HDX for just $229.”

But the most interesting line of his review isn’t even in the review, but in the author’s byline, which includes this disclaimer. “Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.” On the one hand, you could worry about what happens when our news outlets are being purchased by the people that they’re supposed to be covering. But on the other hand, it seems pretty clear that their reviewers still aren’t pulling any punches!

I think my favorite line of the review came when they were discussing one of the newest features on the Kindle Fire HDX — its “Mayday” button, which instantly connects you to live a human being who can help you with technical problems. Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has always insisted that customer service is a big part of what made his company so successful, and even Business Insider applauded their newest approach. “[I]t’s pretty cool that Amazon has invested so heavily in customer service that it has real humans waiting to help you out 24/7 at the push of a button.

“That’s much better than running down to the Apple Store and waiting forever for a Genius to help you!”

For a shortcut to Amazon’s Kindle HDX page, go to
tinyurl.com/KindleFireHDX

Columbus Day Meets the Kindle!

Portrait of Christopher Columbus

Monday is “Columbus Day” in America, remembering the day in 1492 when the European explorer finally succeeded in crossing the Atlantic Ocean and “discovering” North America. (And it’s also celebrated in some Latin American countries as Dia de la Raza, and as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, according to Wikipedia.) It’s a federal holiday in the United States, so the banks and the post office will be closed. But fortunately, there’s lots of ways to celebrate Columbus Day with your Kindle – including several free ebooks!

I remember being fascinated last year when I learned exactly what happened when Columbus approached Queen Isabella’s court. I’d been taught for years that 15th-century scholars insisted that the world was flat, while brave Columbus had argued that no, the planet was round. But it turns out that’s a horrific myth, and “there never was a period of ‘flat earth darkness’ among scholars…” according to Stephen Jay Gould (in a book cited by Wikipedia). And I’d also discovered another startling truth while browsing Wikipedia with my Kindle: that Christopher Columbus story has a surprising connection to a very famous American author from the 1800s.

He wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as well as Rip Van Winkle and Washington Irving was one of the first American authors to gain literary recognition in Europe. (Both those stories were part of a larger collection called The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, which is available as a free Kindle eBook!) But Washington Irving also perpetrated one of the great literary hoaxes, placing fake newspaper ads seeking a fictitious Dutch historian named Diedrich Knickerbocker, and threatening to publish his left-behind manuscript to cover unpaid bills! Though in fact Irving had written the manuscript himself, and it became a best-seller when he finally had it published! (That book is also available as a free Kindle ebook…)

Another story about the author says that Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, was even interested in him romantically, according to Wikipedia. And yet after an early spark of youthful success, the critics began panning Irving’s books, and by the age of 41, Irving was facing financial difficulties. But his past literary success earned him an appointment in 1826 as an American diplomatic attache in Spain. And it was there that he gained access to historical manuscripts about Columbus that had only recently been made available to the public.

Irving used them to write The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, a work of historical fiction which became wildly popular in both the United States and Europe. By the end of the century, the book would be published in over 175 editions. Yes, it’s also available as a free ebook for the Kindle, though for some reason only Volume 2 is available in the free edition. (“…a new scene of trouble and anxiety opened upon him, destined to impede the prosecution of his enterprises, and to affect all his future fortunes.”) But the important thing to remember is it was written as an imaginative work of historical fiction. “Irving based them on extensive research in the Spanish archives,” notes Wikipedia, but Columbus “also added imaginative elements, aimed at sharpening the story.”

Another 19th-century American also assembled his own exhaustive biography about the life of Columbus. Edward Everett Hale is most famous for the patriotic short story, The Man Without a Country. But he also created a scholarly work called The Life of Columbus From His Own Letters and Journals and Other Documents of His Time. You can download it for free from Amazon’s Kindle store, and savor the historic moment when Columbus first makes contact with the New World. “It was on Friday, the twelfth of October, that they saw this island… When they were ashore they saw very green trees and much water, and fruits of different kinds.”

There’s also a historical book called Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery that was published in 1906. It’s scattered as free ebooks throughout Amazon’s Kindle store, though it’s Volume 2 where Columbus first makes landfall. (“…it was a different matter on Friday morning, October 12, 1492, when, all having been made snug on board the Santa Maria, the Admiral of the Ocean Seas put on his armour and his scarlet cloak over it and prepared to go ashore.”)

This text was prepared by Project Gutenberg, and this particular paragraph comes with a disillusioning footnote. Columbus may have recorded the date of his landfall as October 12, but “This date is reckoned in the old style. The true astronomical date would be October 21st, which is the modern anniversary of the discovery.” Columbus may be one of those historical figures who’s become so familiar, that we actually don’t know him at all!

                        *                        *                        *


Click Here to Read about Columbus on Wikipedia

Free ebooks about Columbus:

Washington Irving’s The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus,

The Life of Columbus From His Own Letters and Journals and Other Documents of His Time.

Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery

CNN Calls The Paperwhite “The Best Reader Ever”

The CNNMoney and Fortune magazine logo

You hear it all the time. People want to gush about how happy they are — after a good meal, for example — and they’ll say “This is the best sandwich ever.” I always smile, since you can’t actually have surveyed every single sandwich ever created in the history of time. But it is possible to test out every Kindle, every Nook, and every digital reading device ever made. Someone’s finally done a comparison of every single device, and they’ve declared that Amazon’s newest Kindle Paperwhite is, in fact, the best digital reader ever.

It was CNN.

America’s prestigious 24-hour news channel just posted a new review of the next generation of Kindle Paperwhite — and I’ve never seen such a positive review. “Once upon a time, there was an argument to be made for the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader,” the article begins, “but with the introduction of the Kindle Paperwhite last fall, that battle turned from competitive to no contest.” They applaud the thin, light design of the new devices, saying the Kindle Paperwhite ” finds a perfect sweet spot of size and weight without becoming too difficult to handle or feeling too cheap.” And they also loved the display of the Paperwhite, noting it’s high-contrast and the way it refreshes the words on the screen quickly.

Even while they were complaining that Amazon’s estimate of the battery life might be a little high, they admit that most users will be able to read on the new Paperwhite for several weeks before having to recharge it. And they even praised the touchscreen interface for being quick to respond to the user’s touches. I know people who love their Kindles, but it’s really impressive that one of their new fans is CNNMoney — which is also the online home for two well-respected American finance magazines, Fortune and Money. And according to Wikipedia, more than 10.8 million people visit the CNN Money site each month — so this could become a very influential review.

But there was also a very interesting twist. One of the advantages CNN cited for the Paperwhite was the exclusive-to-Amazon “Kindle Singles” — the short, cheap works written by established authors, which you can’t get on any other device. And they cited something which I agree is one of the most compelling features about Amazon’s ecosystem: the Kindle Lending Library, which lets you borrow one ebook from the library each month without having to pay for it.

Of course, to be fair, the Nook lets you read almost any ebook for free — if you’re willing to actually take your Nook into a Barnes and Noble Store. But CNN’s reviewer wasn’t swayed, and came down unequivocally in favor of the new Kindle Paperwhite. Their conclusion?

“Ultimately there’s no reason not to buy an Amazon e-reader right now. It provides the best hardware and the best ecosystem.”

Amazon is Sold Out of Kindle Paperwhites!

Amazon announces shipping delays for new Kindle Paperwhite

I noticed something funny this morning when I went to Amazon to buy a Kindle Paperwhite. I couldn’t do it! Amazon isn’t able to ship the new Kindle Paperwhite any time this week, and is warning customers that if they purchase one, Amazon’s warehouse will actually ship it out “in 7 to 10 days”.

If you want to get your order in now, go to
tinyurl.com/NewPaperwhite

What’s really interesting is the new Kindle Paperwhite has only been available for nine days. But Amazon had been taking pre-orders since September 3rd, when they first announced the next-generation of their popular high-contrast (and glowing) screen. (“World’s best-selling e-reader now even better,” read the headline on Amazon’s press release…) And what’s even stranger is the 10-day delays may actually be an improvement. Friday one technology blog reported that Amazon was warning customers that the new Paperwhites would be shipping from their warehouses “in four to six weeks!”

Amazon prefixed Friday’s warning about a shipping delay with the words “Due to popular demand”, according to the technology blog — a nice way to acknowledge that their newest Kindle has been very popular. But Amazon also put a new restriction on Kindle purchases: “Limited to two per customer.” I no longer see that restriction on the Kindle Paperwhite page today — which is almost even more disturbing. Does this mean that Amazon has suddenly caught up with the initial onslaught of orders, and now has enough Paperwhites to last through a delay that they thought would last three weeks? Or did one of their suppliers suddenly resolve a problem getting the components to build the devices — so they can now start producing them at a faster rate. This is good news for Amazon’s customers — since their “countdown to Kindles” is now much shorter.

Still, you might want to get your order in early if you’re thinking about buying one of Amazon’s newest Kindle Paperwhites. There’s no guarantee that the shipping delay will remain at 7 to 10 days — and the delays could be even longer when more people start purchasing Kindles as a gift for Christmas. Maybe the new Kindle Paperwhite will be this year’s “Cabbage Patch Kid” — a gift so popular that it’s impossible to get, which makes more people want to buy them just so they can re-sell them at a profit. If that actually happened, then the delays get longer and longer — and you’d have a much harder time getting your own Kindle Paperwhite any time before January!

I wondered if Amazon might sell the previous generation of Kindle Paperwhites, but they obviously want to make sure their customers are only getting the very latest technology But what’s more interesting is that even before the new Kindle Paperwhite was released, Amazon was already sold out of the previous model. In fact, I have to applaud the technology site Geek.com, which reported in August that Amazon was already sold out of the WiFi-only Paperwhites. Because they correctly recognized that this was a sign that Amazon was about to release a new model of the Paperwhite — and that prediction was spot-on, because Amazon did just that, just six days later. (“Get your wallets ready,” Geek.com had urged their readers….)

And that’s still good advice — especially since supplies may be running out, at least temporarily, for the new Kindle Paperwhite.

If you want to get your order in now, go to
tinyurl.com/NewPaperwhite

People React to Amazon’s Newest Kindle

Amazon Hidden Camera Kindle Interviews

Amazon’s just released a new ad for their Kindle Paperwhite — and I wish I could put it into a time capsule. Because it perfectly captures a moment in the evolution of reading. Of course, from Amazon’s perspective, it’s just another way of reaching out to the people who are still resisting the idea of reading ebooks on a Kindle. But they came up with a really clever way to do it — and it makes for some very compelling viewing!

You can watch the video of this ad — and all of Amazon’s newest Kindle ads — at YouTube.com/Kindle . This one is called simply “Real People, Genuine Reactions to the All-New Kindle Paperwhite “. And it’s the candid reactions that make it so much fun to watch! Amazon filmed people using their newest Kindle — and caught their reactions on a hidden camera!


“Wow!”

“Holy Cow!”

“This is amazing…”


Amazon’s narrator explains enthusiastically that “We invited book lovers to try the new Kindle Paperwhite” — but that’s really an understatement. Because Amazon actually set up a miniature living room in the middle of a city plaza — and then invited people to sit down in its overstuffed furniture! It’s a nice gimmick, and it seems to have really made Amazon’s “test subjects” comfortable enough to open about their feelings on books. “I’m such a passionate reader,” one of their subjects explained — and another added “When I’m reading a book, and I really love what I’m reading, I get lost in the story!” But what’s remarkable is how specific they get about the advantages of the Kindle.


“It’s as clear as a book…”

“There’s no glare from the sun.”

“A thousand books in your back pocket?”

“The Kindle is fantastic!”


Of course, by identifying the people in their ads as “book lovers,” Amazon is making a specific point of their own: that reading on a Kindle is just as much fun as reading a print book. (“I love it!” gushes one of their subjects at one point.) And another one even jokes that when Amazon’s through interviewing them about their new Kindles, “We’re not giving ’em back!” But one of the most touching reactions came from what looks like a couple who has been together for a long time.

The husband, looking off towards the future, murmurs reflectively, “We might have to get two…”


Remember, you can watch the video of this ad — and all of Amazon’s newest Kindle ads — at YouTube.com/Kindle

My New Free App in Amazon’s App Store!

500 Inspiring Quotes

For two weeks straight, I spent every waking minute trying to finish my first free app. But it’s finally here, and here’s the big announcement: it’s ready for downloads from Amazon’s “Apps for Android” Store. Unfortunately, it’s not available yet for the Kindle Fire (or for any Apple devices). But you can still download it now to your Android tablet — or even to an Android smartphone!

For a shortcut, point your web browser to
tinyurl.com/500Quotes

Yes, the app is called “500 Inspiring Quotes,” and it came out much better than I expected. My girlfriend took a wonderful photo during a visit to Alameda’s Crown Beach, and the night that I finally released my app, I surprised her by including it as the app’s “cover photo!” For over a year I’ve been struggling to learn how to write a computer program. That night was my chance to prove that I could really do it.

Everything in the app was meant to be both simple and positive, and I read thousands and thousands of quotes searching for 500 that could always deliver a real lift whenever you sat down to read them. There’s quotes by everyone from Oprah Winfrey and Jerry Seinfeld to Winston Churchill, Voltaire, and even Cervantes. But I also worked in quotes from some of my favorite authors — like Jack Kerouac, Toni Morrison, Henry Miller, and Mark Twain.

There’s not any ads in the app, since it was never meant to make money — just to share some warm moments of inspiration. And ultimately, it was a very personal experience, since I was weighing the words of the greatest minds of our civilization — and then trying to cherry-pick the words which would mean the most to the people who read them. I found some surprisingly great quotes from unexpected sources, like Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy and even tennis player John McEnroe. And this also gave me a chance to include some nice thoughts from both Roger Ebert and Annette Funicello, who both died this year, but are living on in their words.

In the end I even spent part of my birthday looking for more inspiring quotes — since it took a long time to find over 500 of them. So this app represents a personal triumph for me in more than one way. I finished all the quote-gathering, and finished all of the computer programming too. And now instead of downloading apps for my device, I can upload one instead, to share it with everyone else!

It’s ultimately given my app a very interesting relationship with Amazon. More than two years ago, Amazon started an Android store so they’d have their own place for selling apps when they eventually launched the Kindle Fire (back in the autumn of 2011). But all of those apps in Amazon’s store are also available on other Android devices, which is how you can download my app to other non-Amazon tablets and Android smartphones. Because my app is an Android app, I also uploaded it to Google’s own app store (the Google “Play Store”), which ended up with a very funny twist for this Kindle-loving man.

Even though I was trying to build an app for the Kindle Fire, so far (through the Google Play Store), it’s only available on the Nook!

For a shortcut, point your web browser to
tinyurl.com/500Quotes