The Secret Life of Amazon’s X-Ray Service

Ben Stiller reads free Audible audiobook of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

It seemed like a miracle. I was listening to music — and its lyrics started appearing (in time with the music)! It’s one of the new features of Amazon’s music-playing apps. But today I found myself wondering if it’s any better than guessing at the lyrics yourself…

“Lyrics display and scroll automatically line-by-line as the song plays,” Amazon explains helpfully on their web page — showing X-Ray in action on a Kindle Fire tablet. But I first encountered this magical feature on my humble Android phone, when lyrics started appearing in my “Amazon Music” app. I never signed up for the X-Ray service, but one day, it spontaneously appeared in my life. A song was coming down to me from the cloud — but now, so were its lyrics!

I should’ve been thrilled, but instead one of the first things I did was Google “How to turn off X-Ray lyrics”, because at first it just seemed distracting! (I liked it when Amazon’s app displayed a pretty picture of the song’s album cover — instead of shrinking that to make room for a line-by-line print-out of the lyrics.) Plus, Amazon’s lyrics aren’t available for every song, so they kept coming and going, winking on and off like a haunted teleprompter. Finally I realized I could just drag the “lyric window” down using a tiny rectangular handle at the window’s top-center. That revealed the album cover in all its glory, leaving behind just a thin gray rectangle with the words “X-Ray Lyrics”.

But here’s the dirty secret about the lyrics from Amazon’s X-Ray service: they’re not always right. I learned this dark truth after becoming obsessed with the meaning of a particularly fascinating song. I’d watched Ben Stiller’s blockbuster, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and even bought its inspiring sound track. And it begins with a roar — drums and cymbals — as Swedish indie singer Jose Gonzalez launches into an anthem urging “Step outside. Won’t you step outside. Better step outside. Time to step outside…”

But as a chorus of children sing their hearts out, the stakes of the song “Step Out” suddenly become impossibly high and almost nihlistic. “House on fire. Leave it all behind you,” they’re singing in unison — before the lyrics even begin. Or are they? One lyric-listing site decided the lyrics must be “Hearts on Fire. Leaving all behind you…”

I was delighted when I realized that X-Ray lyrics would display their interpretation of the song, so I could see who was right. But I soon realized they were just guessing, just like everybody else. They heard the first chorus as just “Step outside, time to step outside” — repeated over and over again. I can’t really fault them for just typing out “Whoa oh oh oh” once for the first line of the chorus — though that’s also its second and third line. But I have to say I was truly disappointed that they couldn’t solve the song’s most mysterious lyrics.

One site actually transcribed it as “Broke tooth one day, something’s not the same. Blank head, that guy sweeps the floor…” (I’m pretty sure that’s not it!) As the singer breaks it down to a hushed whisper — the one moment of calm after “House on fire, leave it all behind you” — I heard “Broke to Monday. Something’s not the same. Blank head, crossed eyes sweep the floor…” But Amazon’s X-Ray service also transcribed it as “Broke tooth Monday…” (What the hell would that even mean?!)

To be fair, the song’s lyrics are cryptic — and the gentle-but-mumbling delivery of the songwriter only makes them more mysterious. One YouTube video presented the chorus as dark as night “and a light to guide you,” but also made the intriguing suggestion that that despondent chorus wasn’t describing “Feeding appetites” (as Amazon suggested), but “feeding at the tides”… But maybe I should walk away from this experience with a new respect for Amazon’s X-Ray service for lyrics. Because it’s really easy to get the lyrics right when you’re just re-typing something from a CD booklet — but without that, it’s anybody’s guess!

But I’ll always remember a friend in high school who once suggested that songwriters shouldn’t tell their audience a song’s definitive interpretation — because finding your own meaning was part of the fun. So instead of relying on Amazon’s X-Ray service, maybe instead we should just follow the advice of this song’s lyricist. As the music culminates into a wall of sound, he can be heard gently mumbling one more lyric that Amazon’s X-Ray service also didn’t transcribe.

“Just believe, and…”

“Step outside. Take a step outside. Better step outside. Time to step outside…”

 



In some countries, Amazon’s Kindle Store has been offering
a free audiobook version of the short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
read by Ben Stiller

Ben Stiller reads free Audible audiobook of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

New Book Explains the Singularity – and Everything Else

Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity

It’s described as “mind-stretching and entertaining” — a new book which explains the brain-boggling possibilities of “an international movement” called transhumanism. With science and technology, the movement suggests we can overcome all our human limitations — those so-called “natural” limits which technology melts away. But the most amazing part is that “Some of this is happening now,” the book’s page on Amazon explains. “Some of it is still in the minds of dreamers” — but all of it is absolutely fascinating.

For a shortcut to the book, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/TranshumanistBook

The complete title for the new book is Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity. And to write the book, Jay Cornell teamed with R.U. Sirius, who co-founded one of the most influential magazines about cyberculture, Mondo 2000. Walter Isaacson, who wrote that best-selling biography of Steve Jobs, called it “without doubt the most delightful guide to the radical future.” And after reading the book, one Silicon Valley forecaster (who teaches at Stanford) pronounced that “The future is weird, very weird!”

Super robots? They’re in here, along with more information about exciting tech topics like artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. They discuss virtual reality — and the creation of entire virtual worlds, in a free-wheeling encyclopedia whose entries cover everything from memory-editing drugs to cloning and “designer babies” to something called cyborg feminism. Author Mark Leyner described the book as “fascinating, ridiculously fun to read, and good for you!”

But my favorite review came from Andrei Codrescu, a humorist who contributes essays on NPR’s radio show All Things Considered. “Being of the same energy field as myself, I now throw a sack full of gold dust into the arena and dare anyone to be either funnier or smarter than this R. U. Sirius.” That’s the thing — this book is funny and entertaining, even while it’s tantalizing your brain with its lively and provocative insights into the shape of things to come. There’s even entries about Michael Jackson, sexbots, warbots, and the Mormon Transhumanist Foundation. And of course, there’s also some stunning information about what people are already doing now with 3D printing technology.

I loved reading Amazon’s selection of blurbs about the book, which described it as ” a hilarious breath of fresh air” or “A delicious funcyclopedia… deceptively light treatment of mind-blowing technologies…” But the thing that impressed me most was where those reviews were coming from. No less of an authority than my favorite science fiction web site, io9, called the book “Witty, snide, and incredibly informative.” And one of the writers at Hacked.com promised the book “will put your mind on fire.”

We live in interesting times now — but aren’t you curious what’s coming next?

Remember, for a shortcut to the book, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/TranshumanistBook

Amazon’s New Free TV Shows!

Point of HonorThat Man in the High Castle - Amazon TV show
Mad Dogs Amazon StudiosThe New Yorker Presents

“Let’s watch more TV,” I said to my girlfriend. Amazon’s original programs are fascinating, and even when they’re not great, they’re original — never-seen-before attempts at not just new stories but entirely new genres. Now Amazon’s just released a brand new crop of 13 more original shows, promising more creativity and surprises.

For a shortcut to Amazon’s free TV shows, go to
tinyurl.com/2015Pilots

You can watch them all online for free (or on any Kindle Fire tablet, or with the Amazon Instant Video app on Fire TV, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii). My girlfriend even watches Amazon’s videos using her iPhone, streaming the high-definition video from Amazon’s app to the AppleTV box for her widescreen TV! And it’s our votes which will help choose which shows get picked up for an entire season of episodes. Amazon’s Vice President for their original programming said that not only are they excited about the shows themselves, but “We’re looking forward to getting customer’s reactions.”

“Our first pilot season of 2015 brings some of the greatest storytellers in the business…with works of novelty and passion.”

The New Yorker Presents

There’s even a pilot from The New Yorker — the prestigious literary magazine — with a sketch, a cartoon, a short documentary feature and an interview with an artist. “Seven new comedy, drama and docuseries pilots are available,” read Amazon’s press release — but there’s also six more new shows — pilots for children — for a total of 13.

And it looks like the “pipeline” for Amazon’s shows has come up with some interesting ideas…


That Man in the High Castle - Amazon TV show

  • The Man in the High Castle is based on a stunning “alternate history” novel by Philip K. Dick, set in a world in which the Nazi’s won World War II. Twenty years later, Germany and Japan have divided much of the planet, but spies and imposters fill a story with a message about both history and authenticity. And the executive producer for this show is science fiction legend Ridley Scott!


Point of Honor

  • Point of Honor is actually set during the Civil War, and shot entirely on location at a former Virginia plantation. It’s an ambitious, hour-long drama about a family torn by the desire to protect their lifestyle while fighting for their beliefs, directed by the writer and producer of Braveheart


Cocked - Amazon Studios

  • Cocked stars Jason Lee from “My Name is Earl” as a bachelor, playboy and gun aficionado who’s not happy when his brother — a former “corporate lapdog” — returns to Colorado to help run the family’s gun factory.


Salem Rogers

  • Salem Rogers includes Rachel Dratch from Saturday Night Live as the former personal assistant to a bratty supermodel who suddenly returns from rehab — after 10 years — intent on reclaiming her fame (and her reckless and wild life). It was nice to see Jane Kaczmarek — the mother on Malcolm in the Middle — as a hard-nosed agent!


Mad Dogs Amazon Studios

  • Mad Dogs is a dark story about old friends reuniting at the villa of a wealthy acquaintance, when “their trip becomes a labyrinthine nightmare of lies, deception and murder” (according to the show’s description at Amazon). They’ve packed a lot of twists into their hour-long pilot, and it’s based on a British show which is already extremely popular.


Down Dog

  • Down Dog is the story of a yoga studio catering to “the trophy wives, hot moms and aspiring celebrities of Santa Monica and Venice Beach,” according to the show’s description at Amazon. But there’s drama and comedy when the good-looking yoga instructor triggers chaos by breaking up with his current girlfriend…


Remember, for a shortcut to all of Amazon’s free TV shows, go to
tinyurl.com/2015Pilots

January’s Kindle eBook Discounts!

900 Miles - a Zombie Novel by S Johnathan DavisThe Heart of Everything That Is - The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend

Regarding Ducks and Universes - science fiction book coverMoonshine - a Cultural History of Hooch

Every month Amazon picks a special selection of Kindle ebooks to sell for $3.99 or less. And this month has some fascinating books to expand your mind with both history and science fiction. But Amazon’s discounted over 100 different Kindle ebooks to just $3.99 or less, so there’s lots of bargains to choosse from.

For a shortcut to Amazon’s discounts, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/399KindleEbooks

Here’s some of the most interesting selections…


Moonshine - a Cultural History of Hooch

Moonshine: A Cultural History of America’s Infamous Liquor by Jaime Joyce ($2.99)

It’s a $25 history of moonshine – now discounted in Amazon’s Kindle store to just $2.99! “Hooch. White lightning. White whiskey. Mountain dew…” begins the book’s description at Amazon — promising “Nothing but clear, 100-proof American history.” The underground infamy of backwoods booze is an all-American tradition that dates back several centuries. But this book dips into the facts and the folklore behind untaxed liquors and unlicensed stills, whether brewed up by mountain people or the “craft distilling” that’s still being practiced today!


Regarding Ducks and Universes - science fiction book cover

Regarding Ducks and Universes by Neve Maslakovic ($1.99)

It’s an awesome title, and this science fiction book lives up to its promise. “On a foggy Monday in 1986, the universe suddenly, without warning, bifurcated,” explains a description on Amazon. 35 years later, a food writer in “San Francisco of Universe A” discovers a photograph showing himself with his father, dated 10 days before the writer was actually born! Of course there’s only one thing to do — head to “San Francisco B”, flagrantly violating the rules of both worlds, and spying on his other self. But it turns out that someone knows he’s changed universes, and the answer to all these provokative mysteries lies, impossibly, in a rubber duck…


The Heart of Everything That Is - The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend

The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend by Bob Drury ($1.99)

The Lakota warrior chief was nearly 90 years old when he died in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, having served as chief for 41 years from 1868 until 1909. But his fascinating life included an 1875 visit to Washington D.C., according to Wikipedia, where he attempted to persuade President grant “to honor existing treaties and stem the flow of miners into their lands.” This 2013 biography was chosen as the best book of the year by Salon magazine, and it also became a New York TImes best-seller. It’s the story of of the only American Indian in history to defeat the U.S. Army in a war, and one reviewer praised its beautiful handling of the historical material, calling it “epic…big, blazing history, writ large on the High Plains.”


900 Miles - a Zombie Novel by S Johnathan Davis

900 Miles: A Zombie Novel by S. Johnathan Davis ($0.99)

This book describes its hero’s “harrowing 900 mile race against time to get to his wife just as the dead begin to rise.” There’s no rules left in society, only one man bringing rumors of an underground stronghold, and so a New York businessman teams up with an ex-army pilot in an intense and fast-paced thriller. “Zombies are not the only things to fear in a DEAD world…our fellow Man is!” wrote one reviewer on Amazon — one of 145 people who awarded the novel five stars. It enjoyed 8 months as one of Amazon’s top 100 occult horror novels, and spent several weeks in the #1 spot on Amazon’s list new ebooks. And after finishing this frightening story, one reader even posted a review on Amazon that was titled “It’s settled – when the zombie apocalypse comes, I’m stealing a humvee….”

Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s discounts, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/399KindleEbooks

David Letterman’s Kindle Christmas Story

David letterman vs. the iPad and Kindle

At Christmas time, I always think about people who’ve been with us over the years — and I remember watching David Letterman all the way back in the 1980s. So it was nice to see him talking about the Kindle once, still making jokes about our funny modern world. This is the last year he’ll be recording his late-night talk show, but nearly four years ago on his late-night talk show he’d shown off the tablet that he’d just started using.

Around the holidays each year I like to revisit that story, because it’s a good reminder about how fast things have changed — and how sometimes the biggest challenge is simply our own stubborn human nature! Talking to the leader of his band (Paul Shaffer), Letterman at first actually seemed genuinely confused even about whether he’d bought an iPad or a Kindle!


LETTERMAN: For Christmas, I loaded up — I had one of them iPads, and they put a book in it. You know you can do that now?

PAUL SHAFFER: Oh, yeah. Sure…

LETTERMAN: And so I’ve been reading this book in this iPad thing, and I’m reading and I’m reading and I’m reading. And as you know, you don’t turn a page, in — when you’re reading on the — what do they call them, the Kindles or something?

PAUL SHAFFER: Yeah… They’ve got that, too, yeah. (Audience laughs)


Letterman was probably reading with a “Kindle for iPad” app. (Earlier that week, Amazon had pointed out that it’s one of the top 10 best-selling apps among iPad owners.) But as their conversation went on, Paul Shaffer gently tried to correct Letterman’s confusion as he explained how you turn pages.


LETTERMAN:And so you just — you just kind of do this with your finger.

PAUL SHAFFER: You flip that. Yeah.

LETTERMAN:And the thing’ll…

PAUL SHAFFER: On the iPad and the Kindle…


Letterman was playing up his reactions as a technology curmudgeon — but he was building up to a complaint that I’d heard before. The Kindle used to tell you only what percentage of a book you’d finished reading, without telling you how many real-world pages were left in the book. Now, of course, the Kindle can actually report how much time is left before you reach the end of book — or even the end of your current chapter. But back in 2010, this was irritating the late-night talk show host. Although the punch line turned out to be that his bandleader Paul Shaffer had the perfect answer!


LETTERMAN: And I’m reading, and I realize: something’s wrong here. Something’s desperately wrong. There’s no page numbers on my book!

PAUL SHAFFER: Right. No, well, there can’t be. There can’t be, because you can change the font, and if you have a larger font, then you’re going to have fewer pages and therefore you can’t possibly commit to a page number because as you electronically alter the page you number, you are going to have to change as well the number of pages that you have at your disposal…(Audience applauds)

LETTERMAN: Thank you. Thank you, Steve Jobs.


It’s nice to remember that story, as a reminder of how things have changed. (Amazon eventually even found a way to add page numbers to lots of Kindle ebooks, so maybe Letterman is happier now.) But I still always smile when I remember how skeptical he’d been about the iPad — even in earlier shows. When the device was first released, he’d showed one to his audience, then joked “The radiation this thing gives off is incredible. You’re supposed to wear a lead apron when you operate it!”

But it was especially interesting in light of a research study by J.P. Morgan. Back in early 2011, they’d determined that 40% of the people who own an iPad also own a Kindle — and that another 23% of them planned to buy one within the next 12 months!

It’s a hopeful sign that all iPad owners aren’t as confused as David Letterman! But I still would like to drop his comments into a time capsule, to be opened up by later generations. Even if books are all someday replaced by digital readers, it’ll be worth remembering just how uncomfortable some people were with the change.


LETTERMAN: But see, and then you just — you just whisk it away like that, and then — but look. What do you see? Do you see a page number?

PAUL SHAFFER: No….

LETTERMAN: No. You don’t see no page number.

PAUL SHAFFER: No. There isn’t…

LETTERMAN: How do you know when you’re done, is what I want to know? Or if somebody – somebody asks you, are you reading the — the book? And I say yeah. “What page are you on?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what page I’m on.” For example, this — I’m reading now the Alex Trebeck story, and I have no idea — uh…No, I can’t help you. Sorry!

David letterman vs. the iPad and Kindle

The 100 Most Useful URLs for Kindle Owners

Digital Publishing vs. the Gutenberg press

Once a year, I assemble my “master list” of shortcuts to the 100 most useful pages for Kindle owners — like all of the free ebooks, games, and comic books that Amazon’s making available. But this year there’s 15 new links which highlight all the changes that happened in 2014 that became a part of the Kindle universe!

Instead of trying to memorize a bunch of complicated URLs, I’ve created shorter, easier-to-remember addresses that still lead to the same pages.

And all 100 of them start with TinyURL.com …

FREE EBOOKS AND GAMES

tinyurl.com/100freekindlebooks
Amazon’s 100 best-selling free ebooks are always available on this list (which is updated hourly!) And of course, the other side of the page also shows the 100 best-selling ebooks which are not free…

tinyurl.com/FreeKindleGames
There’s also free games for your black-and-white Kindle readers — 19 of them — most created by Amazon to show off the Kindle’s versatility.

tinyurl.com/ObamaKindleInterview
Amazon’s interview with President Barack Obama 18 months ago is available as a free Kindle Single.

tinyurl.com/AmazonEntrepreneurs
Transformations is a free 200-page ebook published in 2014 by Amazon about “authors, innovators, and small businesses” around the world who are all enjoying new success using Amazon.

tinyurl.com/BackOnMurder
My favorite free Kindle mystery — a 384-page detective novel following a police detective’s homicide investigation in Houston called Back on Murder.


FREE LAUGHS FROM AMAZON

tinyurl.com/FunnyFakeAmazonReviews
Amazon’s own list of their favorite funny fake customer reviews.

tinyurl.com/MoreFunnyAmazonReviews
Amazon’s second list of their favorite funny customer reviews.

tinyurl.com/AmazonTours
In 2014, Amazon finally started offering free tours of their own fulfillment centers in six different states!

Horse Head Mask from Amazon



FREE COMIC BOOKS

tinyurl.com/freeGraphicNovel
Amazon’s free full-length “graphic novel” called Blackburn Burrow – a fascinating horror comic book set during the Civil War that you can read in color on your Kindle Fire or Android smartphone, or in black-and-white on the Paperwhite, the Kindle Touch, or the Kindle.

tinyurl.com/FreeKindleComicBooks
All of Amazon’s best-selling free Kindle comic books. (For a shortcut to all of Amazon’s Digital Kindle Comics, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks

tinyurl.com/ComicsNewsletter
Amazon’s free newsletter about digital comic books. And when you subscribe, they’ll give you a free Kindle edition of Superman No. 1 from the “New 52” series.


FREE MUSIC

tinyurl.com/FreeMp3List
I love how Amazon is always giving away free mp3s — and you can always find a complete list at this URL!

tinyurl.com/KindleChristmasSong
It’s that cute song from Amazon’s 2010 Kindle Christmas ad. (“Snowflake in my pocket, let’s take a sleigh ride on the ice…”) At this URL, you can download a free mp3 of the song “Winter Night” by Little & Ashley.

tinyurl.com/AmazonPrimeMusic
This year Amazon started making thousands of songs available for free to subscribers of their Amazon Prime service.


FREE VIDEO

tinyurl.com/PrimeInstantVideo
If you’ve signed up for Amazon’s free “Prime” two-day shipping service, they’ll also let you watch a ton of movies and TV shows for free on your Kindle Fire! (Or over the internet…) Browse through the complete selection here – everything from the original episodes of Star Trek and The Twilight Zone to modern favorites like Bones and even new shows created by Amazon!

tinyurl.com/GoodmanShow
John Goodman’s show “Alpha House” — written by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau — is exclusively available on Amazon Instant Video. Watch the first episode free online!

tinyurl.com/AmazonDailyShow
A delightful interview on The Daily Show with John Goodman about his new sitcom on Amazon Instant Video, where he explains “there’s a gizmo you buy with Amazon, and then you get free TV with it” — after first jokingly confessing that he doesn’t actually know how it works.

tinyurl.com/StewartBorders
On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart also did a special segment in 2011 when Borders bookstores announced that it was going out of business. (“Books! You may know them as the thing Amazon tells you ‘You might be interested in’ when you’re buying DVDs…”) Correspondent John Hodgman delivered some silly suggestions about how bookstores could re-vitalize their business model — like offering in-store appearances where customers could heckle authors while they’re writing novels. Or, simply converting bookstores into historical tourist attractions demonstrating the way books used to be sold in the 20th century.

tinyurl.com/KindleFlare
The Onion finally unleashed their fake news stories on the Kindle this year, joking that Amazon had released a Kindle with a very annoying new feature. (And you can also have The Onion delivered directly to your Kindle at tinyurl.com/KindleOnion

tinyurl.com/BezosMarketplace
A fascinating interview with the author of the controversial book about Amazon, “The Everything Store,” which includes a discussion (with audio) about the sound of Jeff Bezos’s laughter.

tinyurl.com/JeffBezosRemembers
Just 7 years after the launch of Amazon, Jeff Bezos shared its story with a roomful of young entrepreneurs, reminiscing about his site’s early days — and the library where he’d read books as a teenager.



Amazon Kindle 399 ebook sale

BARGAIN EBOOKS

tinyurl.com/399KindleEbooks
Every month, Amazon picks 100 ebooks to offer at a discount of $3.99 or less. There’s always a new selection on the first day of the month, so if you visited the page on the last day of the month, you’d see 100 discounted books — and then the next day you’d see an entirely new selection!

If you’re in England, Amazon’s created a different page for their bargain ebooks — go to tinyurl.com/399booksEngland

And if you’re in France, there’s also a different URL for your (English-language) bargain ebooks — it’s at tinyurl.com/399booksFrance
 
 
tinyurl.com/DailyKindleDeal
In addition, Amazon’s also created a special “Daily Deal” page, where they pick a new ebook each day to sell at a big discount for 24 hours. Past deals have included a James Bond novel by Ian Fleming and Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night — and I’m always surprised by the variety.

tinyurl.com/DailyDealsEmail
Amazon will also just e-mail you every “Daily Deal,” so you never have to worry about missing one of them!

tinyurl.com/KindleSelect25
Each week Amazon highlights 25 more books

tinyurl.com/KindleMatch
Discounts on Kindle editions of book when you’ve already purchased their print edition

tinyurl.com/CheapThrillers
Amazon’s special selection of “international thrillers” — all priced at $4.99 or less


KINDLE SINGLES

tinyurl.com/AmazonKindleSingles
All of Amazon’s short, cheap “Kindle Single” ebooks

tinyURL.com/KingOnGuns
Last January Stephen King published a 25-page personal essay titled “Guns”, which he’s selling as a Kindle Single for 99 cents.


NEW FROM AMAZON

tinyurl.com/AmazonPrints3D
Amazon introduced a new 3-D printing store in 2014. Its slogan? “Shop the future!”

tinyurl.com/TwitterWishes
In 2014 Amazon introduced the ability to add items to your Amazon “Wish List” just by tweeting about them!

tinyurl.com/TryAFirePhone
Amazon released their own smartphone in 2014 with a cool 3-D interface — available free if you subscribe to the “AT&T Next” service plan.

tinyurl.com/UnlimitedKindle
Amazon’s new service offers unlimited access to over 700,000 ebooks (and thousands of audiobooks) for just $9.99

tinyurl.com/EchoFromAmazon
Amazon’s new stand-alone “digital assistant” that plays music and answers questions – activated by your voice!

tinyurl.com/KindleFires
Amazon’s newest high-definition color Kindle tablets

tinyurl.com/NewPaperwhite
Amazon’s slick new, high-contrast version of their Kindle Paperwhite

tinyURL.com/KindleDX2013
Amazon also brought back their giant 9.7-inch black-and-white Kindle DX in 2013

tinyurl.com/KindleSending
Amazon’s free “Send-to-Kindle” plug-in for web browsers

tinyurl.com/CustomKindleCovers
Convert your own photos into a custom Kindle cover

tinyurl.com/KindleSerials
There’s a new format for Kindle ebooks called the “Kindle Serial.” Famous authors will now deliver new additional installments of their ebooks just as soon as they’ve finished writing them! The link above takes you to Amazon’s “Kindle Serials” store.



Roger Ebert - 1942 - 2013

FAVORITE AUTHORS

tinyurl.com/EbertEbooks
I’ll never forget Roger Ebert. Here’s the Kindle editions for all his ebooks.

tinyURL.com/XKCDAuthor
XKCD cartoonist Randall Munroe became a best-selling author in 2014, thanks to “What If,” his mind-blowing collection of serious answers to “absurd hypothetical questions.”

tinyurl.com/KindleElmoreLeonard
Elmore Leonard also left us in 2013 — but here’s Kindle editions of all his books.

tinyurl.com/SuckersPortfolio
An exclusive new serialized collection of seven previously unpublished works by Kurt Vonnegut.

tinyurl.com/KurtVonnegutEbooks
Every Kurt Vonnegut ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Store – including a free edition of his science fiction short story, “2 B R 0 2 B”

tinyurl.com/BukowskiEbooks
Every Charles Bukowski ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

tinyurl.com/AgathaChristieEbooks
All the Kindle editions of Agatha Christie’s mysteries.

tinyurl.com/JamesBondEbooks
Every James Bond novel by Ian Fleming has been released as a Kindle ebook — officially licensed by Amazon publishing.

tinyurl.com/Dataclysm
One of the founders of the dating site “OK Cupid” released the stunning book “Dataclysm” towards the end of 2014, revealing the surprising insights achievable with massives amounts of data.

tinyurl.com/HungerGamesEbooks
Amazon’s discounted version of the Hunger Games trilogy.

tinyurl.com/BillyTheKidAudiobook
My favorite audiobook — a drawling narrator reads To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West.

tinyurl.com/BrightBooks
Classic children’s picture books revived by the loving granddaughter of author/illustrator Robert S. Bright.

CalvinAndHobbesKindle
Three different “Calvin & Hobbes” collections were finally released as Kindle ebooks in 2014. Here’s Amazon’s complete selection.

tinyurl.com/DilbertEbooks
My favorite newspaper comic strip is Dilbert, about the life of an office cubicle worker. In 2012, creator Scott Adams finally collected all the comic strips together into a series of ebooks that you can buy for your Kindle!

tinyurl.com/DoonesburyEbook
Doonesbury, the long-running newspaper comic strip by Garry Trudeau, is now finally available on the Kindle — in four massive ten-year retrospective collections!

tinyurl.com/PlayboyEbooks
Playboy announced for their 50th anniversary that they’d release 50 of their best interviews as 99-cent Kindle ebooks. They’re now available in the Kindle Store, including fascinating and sometimes even historic interviews with famous figures from the last 50 years, including Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Ali, Bill Gates, Hunter S. Thompson, Stephen Hawking, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jon Stewart.

TinyURL.com/TakeiBook
George Takei is the 75-year-old TV actor who’d played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek. But now he’s also a huge internet phenomenon — and last December, he finally released his first Kindle ebook, called Oh myy! (There Goes the Internet)

tinyurl.com/HarryPotterKindle
One of the biggest events in publishing was the release of all J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels as Kindle ebooks.

Two Maurice Sendak URLs
Where the Wild Things Are was written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, a beloved children’s book author who died in 2012 at the age of 83. Though his books were never released in Kindle Format, you can still download the full-length novel adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are that was written by Dave Eggers at tinyurl.com/SendakNovel. And you can even buy a DVD at Amazon of the rare 1970s adaptation of Sendak’s stories into television cartoons with narration by Peter Schickele — at tinyurl.com/SendakCartoons


MORE FUN EBOOK LINKS

tinyurl.com/100AmazonBooks
In 2014, Amazon created a fun list of “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime.” And there was also a second list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime — at tinyurl.com/100ReaderPicksselected by voters at GoodReads.

tinyurl.com/TopAmazonAuthors
This year Amazon released a new feature showing their most popular authors at any given moment — updating the list every hour!

tinyurl.com/BestBooksOfTheMonth
Amazon’s Editors pick the best new books of the month

tinyurl.com/BooksWithBuzz
The hottest new and upcoming books are featured here.

http://tinyurl.com/AmazonBooks2013
Amazon’s list of the top 100 best-selling Kindle ebooks for 2013

tinyurl.com/Top2012eBooks
At the end of last year, Amazon released this fun list of their top 100 best-selling Kindle ebooks of 2012.

tinyurl.com/BestBooksOf2012
There’s another list where Amazon’s editors also choose their selections for the “Best Books of 2012”. It’s a special web page with their picks in 30 different categories, including the best print books, the best Kindle ebooks, and the best biographies, mysteries, and even cookbooks!

tinyurl.com/2011Amazon
Curious about what were Amazon’s best-selling books for 2011? This URL takes you to a special Amazon web page where they’re all still listed — 25 to a page — along with a link to a separate list for the best-selling ebooks of the year. The #1 best-selling print book of 2011 was the new biography about Steve Jobs (followed by “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever.” ) But the #1 and #2 best-selling ebooks were The Mill River Recluse and The Abbey — neither of which was even available in print!

tinyurl.com/AmazonFallBooks
Amazon’s picks for the best books of autumn


Amazon office building in Seattle

AMAZON’S CUSTOMER SUPPORT

tinyurl.com/kindle-cs
Amazon’s Customer Service has drawn rave reviews. (If your Kindle is broken, Amazon will usually mail you a replacement overnight!) This page collects all of Amazon’s support URLs. And at its far left, there’s a special link labelled “Contact Kindle Support,” which leads to the support phone numbers for 10 different countries, and there’s also an online contact form and the ability to start a live text chat!

tinyurl.com/ReturnAnEbook
Amazon lets you return any ebook within 7 days, no questions asked. Just remember this address — tinyURL.com/ReturnAnEbook — and you’ll always be able to get a refund if you’re not satisfied with your purchase. (And you can also use this URL for returning Kindles!)


MY EBOOKS AND GAMES

It’s my list, so of course it includes shortcuts for a couple very special projects…

tinyurl.com/500Quotes
My very first Android app — “500 Inspiring Quotes” — is available free in Amazon’s Android store, and also in the Nook and Google Play Store.

TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel
An original word game for Kindle became one of the top 100 most-popular games for the year — and I’m it’s co-author! Check out all the fun at TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel, and discover why 45 people gave it a five-star review! And we’ve just released a brand-new sequel which you can see at TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel2

TinyURL.com/TurkeyBook
“For Thanksgiving, try this game. Find the guilty turkey’s name!”

I wrote a special “mystery poem” that was finally published in November as a funny, illustrated ebook. There’s cartoon-y pictures which show four turkeys in a farmer’s pen on Thanksgiving Day. The farmer’s approaching with an axe — but one of the turkeys has a plan to escape! (“Can the farmer figure out which one? And can you?”) The short “Turkey Mystery Rhyme” is only 99 cents — a real bargain for a fun, holiday smile.

tinyurl.com/OurFunnyDog
Lucca is a cuddly Cocker Spaniel dog who was rescued from an animal shelter, and he now adores his new family — my girlfriend and me! My girlfriend’s been telling her friends how she received “the best present ever” — this short collection of funny photos of her dog, along with sweetly humorous captions that tell the story of his life. (Like the day he met that white cat that moved in downstairs…) If you want to preview a “sample chapter first, go to tinyurl.com/GoodReadsDog — but the whole “short picture scrapbook” is only 99 cents, and it offers a nice peek at a very wonderful dog…


GAMES

tinyurl.com/FreeAmazonApps.
Amazon’s Android app store offers a free app every day — both for your Kindle Fire tablet and for any Android smartphone.

tinyurl.com/allkindlegames
Amazon has a web page devoted just to all the games you can play on your Kindle. (There’s over 400 of them!) It’s fun to see all the colorful game “covers” collected together into one magical toy store-like page.


Free Kindle Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine cover illustration

FREE AND DISCOUNTED KINDLE MAGAZINES

tinyurl.com/FreeSciFiMag
Fantasy & Science Fiction is the famous magazine where Stephen King first published the stories that later formed the basis for The Dark Tower. It’s now available as a free Kindle magazine. It’s been publishing short SciFi stories and commentary for over 60 years — including the works of many other famous authors. In 1978 they published Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” short stories, and in 1959 they ran Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” as a serial. (They also published the novella “Flowers for Algernon” and short stories by Harlan Ellison, and even published a short story by Kurt Vonnegut in 1961, which later appeared in his collection “Welcome to the Monkey House.”) Amazon’s now offering free Kindle subscriptions to a special “digest edition”. (The print edition, published six times a year, is a massive 256 pages.) The digest includes all the editorial content – editor’s recommendations, the “odd books” section, film and book reviews, plus cartoons and ‘Coming Attractions’ (highlights of each issue) – along with one short story. (And if you want the full 256-page version sent to your Kindle, you can subscribe for just 99 cents more.)

tinyurl.com/FreeKindleMagazine
Amazon gives away free “trial issues” of the Kindle edition for several magazines!

tinyurl.com/KindleMagazineDeals
These magazines have been heavily discounted when delivered to your Kindle.


A VERY SPECIAL KINDLE BLOG

tinyurl.com/MeAndMyKindle
It’s my blog! (That’s the URL for its page on the Kindle Store.) If you want to tell your friends how to find me, this URL makes it easy to remember. Just practice saying “TinyURL . com/MeAndMyKindle” and soon we’ll all be sharing the latest Kindle news together.


KINDLES ON TV

I love Amazon’s Kindle TV ads — and you can watch them all online at YouTube.com/Kindle. One of my favorite ones is this British commercial for the Kindle and the Kindle Touch, at tinyurl.com/UKKindleAd

tinyurl.com/KindleFireSong
There was a spectacular new TV ad when Amazon announced their new Kindle Fire tablets. It showed the evolution of print from a quill pen dipped in ink to Amazon’s latest full-color multimedia touchscreen tablet. But I loved the song they played in the background, by a new Louisiana-based band called the Givers. (“The words we say today, we’ll say… we’ll see them again. Yes, we’ll see them again…”) I’d called it an ode to all the self-published authors who are finding new audiences on the Kindle — and at this URL, you can hear the entire song on YouTube!


tinyurl.com/AmyRutberg
Before she became “the woman from that Kindle commercial,” actress Amy Rutberg appeared in a zany stage production called “The Divine Sister.” Playbill (the official magazine for theatre-goers) had her record a backstage peek at the theatre and its cast for a special online feature — and it’s a fun way to catch a peek at another part of her career. That URL leads to the video’s web page on YouTube, and there’s also a second part which is available at http://tinyurl.com/AmyRutberg2


MISCELLANEOUS

tinyurl.com/kindlemap
Ever wonder where all the Kindle owners are? Someone’s created an interactive online map, where Kindle owners can stop by and leave “push pins” showing their location! There’s big clusters on the east and west coast of America (though you could still leave the first push pin for Arizona or Nevada!) It’s an adapted version of one of Google’s maps of the world, so you can also spot “Kindlers” in Iraq, Romania, and Ethiopia. And if you click on the push pins, you’ll find the Kindler’s name and sometimes a comment. (One Kindler in Spain simply posted: “Tengo un Kindle DX!”)

tinyurl.com/GoldBoxPage
Every day Amazon also offers discounts on a new item — sometimes even expensive electronics equipment. And you can always find them all at tinyurl.com/GoldBoxPage

tinyurl.com/BurningTheBook
A new ebook by the Amazon manager who was in charge of the Kindle on the day it launched!


And here’s the most useful URL of all.

tinyurl.com/100KindleURLs

It’s a shortcut to this page — so you can find all of these URLs in 2015!

Happy New Year!