Amazon Discounts More Kindle eBooks!

2001 - A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke Enter The Saint book cover by Leslie Charteris

Goosebumps - Night of the Living Ventriloquist's Dummy Zane Grey - Dorn of the Mountains


Right now Amazon’s running several special sales on Kindle ebooks. First there’s the “$3.99 or less” sale. (Every month Amazon selects nearly 300 ebooks, which they sell at a discount until the end of the month.) But now Amazon is also running a second sale where the ebooks are even cheaper!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s sales, point your browser to this page for the $1.99 and $3.99 ebooks

Here’s some of the highlights.


2001 - A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke ($1.99)


It’s one of the most famous science fiction stories of all time. (In the Kindle Store’s science fiction section, it’s still one of the top 50 best-selling books!) It’s a sprawling 324-page novel about humanity’s migration into space, including a famous confrontation between astronauts and a computer named HAL. But this edition also contains a secret second story about the director of the film, and the man who’d created the book.

30 years after he’d first published 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke penned a brand new introduction for its special anniversary edition. And then two weeks later, he received word that Stanley Kubrick had just died. “He was planning a special promotion of the movie in the year 2001,” Clarke remembers, now writing his second new introduction. “I am very sad that I am unable to share the occasion with him.”


Enter The Saint book cover by Leslie Charteris


Enter the Saint by Leslie Charteris

Before he played James Bond, Roger Moore starred as “The Saint”, a suave crimefighter, in a TV series which ran for 7 years. But that series was an adaptation of a very popular series of books, which was written over a period of 35 years by a colorful author named Leslie Charteries. Now his books have finally found their way into Amazon’s Kindle store — and Amazon’s discounting two of them to just $1.99. “Enter the Saint” was his very first story about the tough swashbuckler who goes up against a mob of drug smugglers. And they’re also discounting another book with three more classic stories, in a 282-page collection titled The Saint vs. Scotland Yard.


Goosebumps - Night of the Living Ventriloquist's Dummy


Classic Goosebumps #1: Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine ($1.99)

This month Amazon’s discounting five different books from R. L. Stine’s popular “Goosebumps” series. There’s Werewolf of Fever Swamp and The 13th Warning, but also two newer entries in the 2012 relaunch of the franchise, which was titled “Goosebumps Most Wanted”. There’s Planet of the Lawn Gnomes and Zombie Halloween — and just in time for Halloween, Amazon’s also discounting a great tale about a ventriloquist’s dummy. One reviewer on Amazon described it as children’s horror literature, adding that Night of the Living Dummy “is quite possibly the greatest Goosebumps book ever written…”

That’s no small claim, since there’s over 60 different books in the series, and It’s hard to underestimate the huge popularity of the series. Over 350 million Goosebumps titles have been sold, and one newspaper even called their author the Stephen King of children’s books. So it’s especially nice that Amazon’s discounting one of the very first books in the series, which they’re lovingly describing as a “fan-favorite thriller and chiller”. (And it even includes new bonus material — about the scary ventriloquist dummy who comes to life…!)


Zane Grey - Dorn of the Mountains


Dorn of the Mountains by Zane Grey ($1.99)

It’s one of the classic western adventure novels — and the book itself has its own story, according to its description on Amazon. “When this powerful tale of adventure, danger, romance, and hope was first published — under the title Man of the Forest — it was dramatically different from what Zane Grey had originally written.” Its plot describes a desperate race against time for justice, and apparently its editors wanted to help speed things up. “Long passages had been removed, other passages written by someone else were inserted, and the hero’s name had been changed to Dale. Now, restored from Grey’s original manuscript, this wonderful novel can finally be enjoyed the way its author actually wrote it.”


Remember for a shortcut to Amazon’s sales, point your browser to the $1.99 and $3.99 ebooks here

New XKCD Book Discounted 36% for Pre-Orders

New XKCD diagram book - Thing ExplainerXKCD’s web site is now touting its new upcoming book

Amazon’s discounting the newest book by XKCD cartoonist Randall Munroe by 36% — and it’s already become one of their best-selling books! What’s fascinating is the author’s previous book — published one year ago — is still Amazon’s #1 best-selling book in their “Physics” category, edging out Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. And now Randall’s new unpublished book is already Amazon’s #1 best-seller in their “Science & Math” subcategory for scientific instruments, and also #1 in Amazon’s Mechanics category.

For a shortcut to all of the author’s books, point your browser to this web page

The new book is called Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, and it normally retails for $24.95. But Amazon’s offering a special pre-order discount, selling it for just $15.99. It’s a beautiful collection of “large format” blueprints — 9″ x 13″ — offering the cartoonist’s wry, “detailed diagrams of interesting objects, along with explanations of what all the parts are and how they work,” according to a post on Randall’s XKCD blog. “The titles, labels, and descriptions are all written using only the thousand most common English words.

“Since this book explains things, I’ve called it Thing Explainer.”

Everything from datacenters to tectonic plates, and even all the controls in an airplane cockpit, will all get humorously simple descriptions. And in the blog post, Randall explains that he was inspired by his experience in trying to describe NASA’s Saturn V rocket (which carried 24 astronauts to the moon between 1968 and 1972). “Fire comes out here,” reads the bottom of the diagram, and Randall described the rocket’s control module as a “people box”. Another part of the diagram is labelled “part that flies around the other world and comes back home with the people in it and falls into the water…”

But best of all, Randall’s even describing this book in the same simple style that he’s using for its diagrams. (“I had a good time drawing Up Goer Five, so I decided to draw more pictures like that and make a book of them…”) It’d be a great, geeky gift — a 64-page masterpiece, released on November 24th, so it’ll be just in time for the big pre-December shopping season.

And yes, Amazon is also selling a collection of his popular XKCD comic strip – newly available in paperback format!

For a shortcut to the discounted book’s page, point your browser to this web pgae

Randall Munroe XKCD book vs Stephen Hawking

Get a Kindle for $59

Kindle back to school discount

Amazon’s lowered the price on their Kindle to just $59! (It’s a special back-to-school offer, so it’s a “limited-time” price…) That’s more than 25% off its regular price, and it’s a great way to try Amazon’s light readers with the glare-free, black-and-white touchscreen

For a shortcut to Amazon’s discounted Kindle,
point your browser to

The discount applies to Amazon’s six-inch Kindle, but they’re also offering a discount on their “Kindle for Kids” bundle. Now just $79, Amazon’s kid-friendly Kindle ships in a colorful textured cover that protects it from damage. (And to make it even more suitable for children, this Kindle’s screensaver won’t display any advertising.) Amazon’s also offering an extended two-year warranty, so you won’t have to worry about damage to the device, and it even awards “achievement badges” for the ebooks your child is reading.

Kids Bundle Kindle - Back to School
“Lighter than a paperback, holds thousands of books,” Amazon teases at the top of a recent promotional e-mail, which is touting the discount on both devices. I’m tempted to buy the $59 Kindle just to try a more recent version of the Kindle — and it weighs just 6.7 ounces! It’s got a 4-week battery life, according to Amazon’s specs, though it’s got a lower “pixel density” than the Kindle Paperwhite or the Kindle Voyage. But the Paperwhite now costs twice as much, and the Voyage is more than three times as expensive.

It’s the cheapest Kindle I’ve ever seen — and yes, it would make an awesome back-to-school gift!

Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s discounted Kindle,
point your browser to

Amazon, Bookstores, and the Search for a Lost Novel

I learned a lot about books — more than I’d meant to — while preparing a blog post last month. It’s a personal story, full of real highs and some real frustrations, and a few moments of honest-to-god history. And it all ends up with a picture of a little boy waving at a train…

I was thrilled when my book club finally agreed to read one of my all-time favorite novels. But could I still find a hardcover version of the original 1943 novel? By the end of that evening, I’d visited six different bookstores, and only one of them had a copy on their shelves. But even more startling, I discovered that two of my favorite bookstores had gone out of business!

Nothing by the Author…
Only one obscure book by the author…
Out of business
Had the book!
Out of business

Shakespeare and Co in Berkeley - June 21st
After 50 years, Berkeley’s “Shakespeare & Co.” closed in June of 2015

In the end, it was easier to just purchase the book on Amazon — especially since I was able to locate both editions. (The revised 1966 Dell paperback, and the original Harcourt Brace and Co. hardcover from 1943). And I was delighted that I’d even found a version with the original dust jacket… William Saroyan had won a Pulitzer Prize just three years before he wrote The Human Comedy. So it felt tragic that it was so difficult to find a bookstore that would sell me a copy — and very important that I pursue this to wherever it led…

I’d live with these books for the next month, revisiting its story of small-town America — and discovering all the startling differences between the original and revised editions. And the very first difference I discovered was pretty substantial — every chapter’s title had been changed. “All the World Will Be Jealous of Me” had become simply “At Home”, and “You Go Your Way, I’ll Go Mine” had become “Mrs. Sandoval.” Soon I was stunned to discover that that pattern was repeating for every single chapter, which suggested more rich details that might be slipping away…

 A Song For Mr. Grogan   Mr. Grogan
 If a Message Comes   Mrs. Macauley
 Be Present at Our Table, Lord   Bess and Mary
 Rabbits Around Here Somewhere   The Veteran
 The Two-Twenty Low Hurdle Race   Miss Hicks
 The Trap, My God, the Trap!   Big Chris
 I’ll Take You Home Again   Going Home
 Mr. Grogan on the War   The Telegram
 To Mother, with Love   Alan
 It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own   After the Movie
 A Better World, a Better People   Valley Champion for Kids
 Let There Be Light   The Holdup Man
 Death, Don’t Go To Ithaca   The Nightmare
 Be Happy! Be Happy!   Mr. Ara
 There Will Always Be Pain in Things   Mrs. Macauley
 All The Wonderful Mistakes   Lionel
 Leaning on the Everlasting Arms   On the Train
 A Letter from Marcus to His Brother Homer              Marcus
 Here is a Kiss   At the Church
 The Trees and the Vines   Spangler
 Ithaca, My Ithaca!   Ithaca
 Love Is Immortal, Hate Dies Every Minute   The Horseshoe Pitchers
 The End and the Beginning   The House

Wait a minute — there’s two different chapters that are both named “Mrs. Macauley.” (See what happens when you name chapters after their primary character?) It was fun exploring the book for its changes, both big and small, and the second difference I discovered was just one word in the first chapter. But it still seemed like it was a pretty important change…

The little boy turned slowly and started for home. As he moved, he still listened to the passing of the train…and the joyous words: “Going home, boy — going back where I belong!” He stopped to think of all this, loitering beside a china-ball tree and kicking at the yellow, smelly, fallen fruit of it. After a moment he smiled the smile of the Macauley people — the gentle, wise, secret smile which said Yes to all things.

In the revised edition, “Yes” was changed to “Hello”.

I even discovered a new typo that was introduced in the revised edition. (Unless “indredible” is a word.) But more importantly, in chapter three, they’ve trimmed the conversation where the manager of the telegraph office asks his 14-year-old messenger about what future he’s mapped out for himself. “Well… I don’t know for sure, but I guess I’d like to be somebody some day. Maybe a composer or somebody like that — some day.”

“That’s fine,” Spangler said, “and this is the place to start. Music all around you — real music — straight from the world — straight from the hearts of people. Hear those telegraph keys? Beautiful music.”

“Yes sir,” Homer said.

In the revised edition, the conversation goes like this.

“Well… I don’t know for sure, but I guess I’d like to be somebody some day.”

“You will be,” Spangler said.

I wondered if the author was trying to shorten the book — to make it more like a paperback, for mass-market consumption. (The sentence “You know where Chatterton’s bakery is?” was changed to “Know where Chatterton’s bakery is?”) It’s like watching deleted scenes from a movie. Sometimes you sense that it made the movie shorter, but at the same time it’s also eliminated some context.

An entire chunk of dialogue was cut from the end of the scene at the telegraph office.

“Mr. Grogan went on, his mouth full of cocoanut cream. ‘Do you feel this world is going to be a better place after the War?’

Homer thought for a moment and then said, ‘Yes, sir.’

‘Do you like cocoanut cream?’ Mr. Grogan said.

‘Yes, sir,’ Homer said.

Are these significant changes? If a story’s strength lies in its poignancy, then how do you measure the value of dialogue? Here’s some more sentences that were edited out of chapter 4, when the smallest boy wanders into a conversation with his mother and older sister, asking about the brother who’s gone away to war.

“Where’s Marcus?”

Mrs. Macauley looked at he boy.

“You must try to understand,” she began to say, then stopped.

Ulysses tried to understand but didn’t know just what was to be understood.

“Understand what?” he said.

“Marcus,” Mrs. Macauley said, “has gone away from Ithaca.”

“Why?” Ulysses said.

“Marcus is in the Army,” Mrs. Macauley said.

In the revised edition, that scene was shortened to simply two sentences.

“Where’s Marcus?”

“Marcus is in the Army,” Mrs. Macauley said.

Original cover for William Saroyan's The_Human_Comedy_(novel)