September 17th, 2014
I love Amazon’s Kindle ebooks sales — but this month selection seems unusually exciting. There’s famous authors (and famous characters), with new discounts on fiction, non-fiction, and even comic books. Amazon’s discounted over 100 Kindle ebooks to just $3.99 or less — including science fiction, biographies, and thrillers.
Here’s some of the most interesting selections…
John Lennon: The Life by Philip Norman ($1.99)
This 800-page biography seems like it’s full of everything you want to know about the music legend — both before and after The Beatles. After three years of research, author Philip Norman apparently interviewed everyone who really knew John Lennon, according to the book’s description at Amazon, including Lennon’s own son Sean “whose moving reminiscence reveals his father as never before.” Norman also obtained rare interviews with Paul McCartney, George Martin, and Yoko Ono, “who speaks with sometimes shocking candor about the inner workings of her marriage to John.” And I have to admit that this book’s description is intriguing, calling it “Honest and unflinching, as John himself would wish…the whole man in all his endless contradictions…”
Easy Go by Michael Crichton ($1.99)
It’s a fun and fascinating novel from one of this century’s greatest literary careers. Just two years after making his debut at the age of 27, Michael Crichton imagined a fantastic story set in Egypt about an archaeologist who discovers ancient tomb filled with vast riches. There’s just one problem, according to Amazon. “He doesn’t just want to dig it up. He wants to steal it.” Soon our hero has teamed up with a smuggler, a thief, and an English lord to attempt history’s greatest heist — and of course, they’re walking right into a novel filled with danger. “Part Heist caper with some Indiana Jones mixed in,” writes one reviewer at Amazon, adding ” It would have made a great action movie….”
The Best American Short Stories 2013 by Elizabeth Strout ($2.99)
This collection is “wildly divergent and entertaining,” according to Booklist, “and each story is cultivated with a keen eye for voice and character…” I’ve always loved these collections of short fiction, and this year’s may be the best one yet (already becoming one of Amazon’s top 500 best-selling Kindle ebooks). “As our vision becomes more global,” explains this year’s guest editor, “our storytelling is stretching in many ways. Stories increasingly change point of view, switch location, and sometimes pack as much material as a short novel might.” That’s Elizabeth Strout, who also won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and the editor of this series simply describes this collection as “twenty compellingly told, powerfully felt stories about urgent matters with profound consequences….”
Daredevil, Vol. 1 by Mark Waid ($3.99)
Marvel Comic books are hard to find in Amazon’s Kindle Store — but they do have a great selection of graphic novels. And with new interest in The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy, let’s not forget one of Marvel’s classic and most inspiring superheroes. Matt Murdock is “the man without fear,” and one comic book fan on Amazon describes this collection of six 2011 issues as “an incredible read, one of the best today!” (“If you like the fun of Spider-Man, but get a little tired of the self-deprecating humor or you love Batman, but don’t want to be bogged down by loads of continuity or maybe you just want to find something that’s both fun and thrilling all in the same place, do yourself a favor and pick this up!”)
And if you’re looking for more Marvel graphic novels, Amazon’s also discounted Ultimate X-Men Vol. 1: The Tomorrow People to just $3.99!
Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s ebook discounts, point your browser to
September 9th, 2014
One of the founders of the dating site “OK Cupid” just released a new book — and it reveals some stunning insights about how people live today. (And Amazon’s discounting the Kindle edition to just $6.99.) After 10 years of running OKCupid, Christian Rudder has crunched the data to uncover some surprisingly clear patterns about what people really want. The title of his book? Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking)
“Tonight, some thirty thousand couples will have their first date because of OkCupid,” Rudder writes in the book’s introduction. “Roughly three thousand of them will end up together long-term. Two hundred of those will get married, and many of them, of course, will have kids.” It seems like just one out of every 150 dates will end in marriage, I thought at first. But then I realized: that’s happening every night — so 73,000 marriages each year are beginning with OKCupid dates!
“There are children alive and pouting today,” jokes the site’s founder, “grouchy little humans refusing to put their shoes on right now, who would never have existed but for the whims of our HTML.” And Rudder used to maintain a blog on their dating site that was called “OKTrends” — interesting observations about what patterns they were observing — according to Wikipedia. Rudder only stopped writing the blog in order to collect the same kind of information into this book. And according to one reviewer at Amazon, “This book may be to Data Science…what Freakonomics was to Economics…”
So what did he learn? Rudder revealed one fascinating experiment in July. OKCupid tried blatantly lying about the compatability of online dates, telling customers they’d discovered someone who matched 90% of their dating criteria…when they’d actually only matched 30%. (And to test the opposite, OKCupid told some customers that they’d also found people matching a mere 30% of their criteria — when, secretly, those people were actually a 90% match!) The results? Users sent more messages –at least “a conversation” of four — when they believed there was compatibility. Their own interactions weren’t always enough to convince them to keep those conversations going….and they put more faith in the numbers from the web site!
And surprisingly, people were much more likely to take a chance on e-mailing a person when there were no pictures available to judge how attractive they were….
Christian Rudder graduated from Harvard with a degree in math, according to The New York Times, calling Rudder the “Unblushing Analyst of Attraction” for OKCupid. And there is a stunningly geeky frankness in the infographics he’s released in advance of the book. For example, Rudder reports that the most sexually-aggressive states in America are Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming. Meanwhile, Ohio and New Hampshire are the states least interested in sex and most interested in finding love…
Of course, there’s also a startling confession in Rudder’s book. “I’ve never been on an online date in my life and neither have any of the other founders…” So he’s not trying to push people to their web site, “and if it’s not for you, believe me, I get that.
“Tech evangelism is one of my least favorite things!”
September 5th, 2014
“Today Only,” read the special announcement on Amazon. Friday they’d slashed the prices on the Kindle Fire HD to just $129!
But a more interesting question is why is Amazon offering massive discounts on their high-definition tablet?
First, it’s a refurbished version, but that doesn’t explain everything. And the second clue is that Amazon seems to running out of their basic $69 Kindle. “Expected to ship in 1 to 2 weeks,” reads the text Amazon quietly slipped onto their web page. Why the sudden dramatic shifting in Amazon’s inventory of Kindles?
Of course, one theory is that Amazon’s about to announce a new Kindle. They usually schedule these announcements in September, to build up anticipation for the devices they’ll be releasing right before the big shopping season after Thanksgiving. So Amazon, the theory goes, is making room for all these new Kindles. Which they’re going to have to store someplace while they wait for new customers to order them…
What will Amazon announce? They’ll want to upgrade their tablets to keep up with their new competition. Maybe Amazon will add the Firefly button, and the other cool new features that they introduced with their Fire Phone. Besides being fun to play with, those features also made it easier to buy more things from Amazon.
So my guess is Amazon will include it on as many devices as possible!
August 31st, 2014
Amazon’s discounting the newest book by XKCD cartoonist Randall Munroe by up to 50% — and it’s already become one of their best-selling books! It’s available as Kindle ebook for just $11.99 — a 50% discount from its cover price of $24 — if you pre-order before its official release this week. Even the hardcover edition has been discounted by 40% (to just $14.40)!
And in other news, “I’m excited to announce that I’ll be going on a book tour!” the author posted recently on his blog. When the book is finally released Tuesday, he’ll be appearing in Cambridge, Massachusetts at the Harvard Book Store. Then on Friday it’s New York City, for the Barnes and Noble at Union Square. Within four days, he’ll be appearing in Seattle (at Town Hall), for a Tuesday night appearance which is already sold out. And by Thursday and Friday, it’s San Francisco and Berkeley, for two appearances which are both, also, already sold out…
Amazingly, his book has already jumped onto Amazon’s best-seller list even though it hasn’t been released yet, grabbing different spots in the top 10 throughout this weekend. (Currently it’s ranked #9 on Amazon’s list of hardcover best-sellers– higher than To Kill a Mockingbird and The Fault in Our Stars…) “This title will be auto-delivered to your Kindle on September 2, 2014,” Amazon advises shoppers, promising them the best of both worlds. You can still claim the huge pre-order discount — and then receive the ebook on Tuesday!
What’s even more amazing is it became a best-seller at Amazon five months ago. When the XKCD creator first announced this title, it became Amazon’s #2 most popular hard-cover book. “It’s like a surreal story from one of the author’s own comic strips,” I wrote in March. “In our yet-to-happen future, his book decides to travel backwards through time, stopping off in March of 2014 to inform Amazon’s best-seller list that yes, in our coming timeline this book will be widely read.” And ironically, the book’s title is What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. (Like what would happen if you threw a baseball at 90% of the speed of light…? )
I thought it was nice of the author to include a “Google Hangout” on his book tour. On Friday September 12th, he’ll appear in the live online chat (though questions will be limited to four carefully-chosen fans…) Then there’s one more stop in Santa Monica, before he returns home to continue drawing his comic strip.
And yes, Amazon is also selling a collection of his popular comic strip –though that book is only available in hardcover…
Remember, for a shortcut to his book’s page — and the earlier collection of
the author’s comic strips — point your browser to
August 29th, 2014
I almost forgot to check Amazon’s regularly-scheduled monthly sale of ebooks. (“Each month we unveil a new collection of Kindle books for $3.99 or less…”) And Amazon’s also offering especially attractive discounts when you purchase an audiobook and its Kindle version together. They’ve discounted more than 75 audiobook/ebook pairs to less than $8.00!
The discounts always disappear on the last day of the month, so this month that’d be Sunday, August 31st. (Which means if you re-visit the URL on Monday — September 1st — there’ll be an entirely new selection to choose from!) I always love the variety of choices — and this month there’s some unusually good choices.
Here’s some of the more interesting titles.
Anathem by Neal Stephenson ($1.99)
The science fiction maestro behind Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon delivers another mind-blowing piece of “speculative fiction”. Set on the planet Arbre, it describes a haven for intellectuals — the scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers of a strange civilization — who suddenly find themselves facing “cataclysmic change” (according to the book’s description at Amazon). The sprawling adventure fills over 1000 pages in its print edition — the audiobook runs a full 32 hours and 30 minutes. But thanks to Amazon’s special pricing, you can get that audiobook for just $3.99 when you purchase the ebook for $1.99 — making the whole combined package just $6.00.
The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman ($1.99)
Sarah Silverman shocks audiences with her fierce, raw jokes — and her latest book was no exception. “From the outrageously filthy and oddly innocent comedienne Sarah Silverman comes a memoir – her first book – that is at once shockingly personal, surprisingly poignant, and still pee-in-your-pants funny,” reads the book’s description at Amazon. But The Bedwetter also pulls back the curtain to reveal a little true information about Sarah, according to one reviewer at Amazon. “I expected this book to be hilarious, and it is… What I didn’t expect were the sensitivity and sincerity that Sarah has brought to both the writing of the book and to its glimpses behind the scenes into her personal life and the thoughtfulness behind the humor.”
And the audiobook — read by Sarah Silverman — is only $3.99 (when you also purchase the Kindle ediition for $1.99). For 5 hours and 42 minutes, she reads her own memoir out loud, and I even found myself laughing as she read the book’s copyright information with her classic deadpan enthusiasm. “Harper Audio presents The Bedwetter…by Sarah Silverman. Read by, Sarah Silverman. Me! Copyright 2010 by Sarah Silverman…. Dedication: for my family. I am so proud to be a part of us… A few names have been changed so I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings or get sued…”
Dead Man’s Folly: Hercule Poirot Investigates by Agatha Chrstie ($1.99)
“Agatha Christie’s Poirot” appeared for nearly 25 years on British television, with 70 episodes that introduced audiences to a brilliant but quirky Belgian detective (played by David Suchet). So it’s a real treat that David Suchet himself reads the audiobook edition for Dead Man’s Folly: Hercule Poirot Investigates. The audiobook is just $3.99 when you purchase the $1.99 Kindle edition.) And I always think of this book as one of Agatha Christie’s most personal mysteries…
It’s the story of a “murder party” — where people gather to solve a mock crime (which inevitably turns into a real one…) Hercule Poirot straddles the line between fact and fiction, in a story which Agatha Christie wrote to raise money for a local church’s fundraiser. They were raising money to purchase a stained glass window, but in the end, Christie gave them the proceeds from an entirely different story about her other famous detective, Miss Marple. And then she expanded this story into a full-length Hercule Poirot novel!
When Rolling Stone‘s contributing editor published his first book, it was a stunning story about his early days as a DJ — and falling in love with another DJ named Renée Crist. The ’90s were the decade “of Kurt Cobain and Shania Twain,” jokes the book’s description at Amazon, adding “It was also when a shy music geek named Rob Sheffield met a hell-raising Appalachian punk-rock girl named Renée, who was way too cool for him but fell in love with him anyway.
“He was tall. She was short. He was shy. She was a social butterfly. She was the only one who laughed at his jokes when they were so bad, and they were always bad. They had nothing in common except that they both loved music…” Sheffield himself reads the book’s audiobook version — $3.99 when you also purchase the $3.99 Kindle edition — and when he looks back on the memories of his late wife, you sense a tenderness and the emotion that compelled him to pull together this book.
“In Love Is a Mix Tape, Rob, now a writer for Rolling Stone, uses the songs on fifteen mix tapes to tell the story of his brief time with Renée… Love Is a Mix Tape isn’t a love song- but it might as well be. This is Rob’s tribute to music, to the decade that shaped him, but most of all to one unforgettable woman.”
Remember, for a shortcut to all of Amazon’s discounted ebooks,
point your browser to:
August 22nd, 2014
I love these big discounts Amazon’s offering on Kindle ebooks. (Up to 85% off on over 400 books — but only through August 24th). There’s hundreds of fun and fascinating titles — and cheap enough that it’s easy to try something new!
Here’s a few more of the most interesting titles…
Five Perry Mason Novels ($1.99 each)
The famous lawyer/detective frees the innocent in five of the original mystery novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. Amazon’s discounted each one to just $1.99 — and they’re free if you’re a subscriber to Amazon’s “Kindle Unlimited” program. There’s The Case of the Haunted Husband and The Case of the Sulky Girl — in a series which made Erle Stanley Gardner one of America’s all-time best-selling authors. Over 50 Perry Mason mysteries have now been published as Kindle ebooks — each one with a lurid cover that celebrates the glory days of pulp fiction. There’s also The Case of the Angry Mourner and The Case of the Fugitive Nurse. And it’s impossible not to be intrigued by an ebook titled The Case of the Grinning Gorilla!
I’ll Fly Away by Wally Lamb ($1.99)
His first novel, She’s Come Undone was a best-seller — and so was his second novel, written six years later — I Know This Much Is True. But Wally Lamb also has a remarkable story about stories — the ones written by the inmates at a women’s prison in Connecticut. Since 1999 he’s worked at the York Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison, where he learned that writing “was a way for these women to face their fears and failures and begin to imagine better lives,” according to the book’s description at Amazon. “Startling, heartbreaking, and inspiring, these stories are as varied as the individuals who wrote them, but each illuminates an important core truth: that a life can be altered through self-awareness and the power of the written word.”
Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape by Mark Lee Gardener ($1.99)
Mark Lee Gardner is one of my favorite writers about “the old West.” He looks at America through the eyes of its outlaws, capturing the world they lived in and the larger forces that were shaping their time. Jesse James committed the most famous bank robbery of all time, according to this book’s description at Amazon, and Gardner gives the thief the same thoughtful appraisal that he brought to his previous book about Billy the Kid. “With compelling details that chronicle the two-week chase that followed — the near misses, the fateful mistakes, and the bloody final shootout on the Watonwan River, Shot All to Hell is a galloping true tale of frontier justice…”
Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order by Noam Chomsky ($3.03)
At the age of 71, Noam Chomsky penned a sharp critique of the world’s political (and economic) structure which was apparently ahead of its time. Written in 1999, this book uncovers the roots of the fiscal crisis of 2008, according to the book’s description at Amazon, which adds that “In the years since the initial publication of Profit Over People, the stakes have only risen…” Howard Zinn would call the book “brilliant and devastating…a powerful rush of facts and ideas,” and it offers a new perspective on the free market that my high school economics teacher kept talking about. “Now more than ever, Profit Over People is one of the key texts explaining how the crisis facing us operates,” claims the book’s description, “and how, through Chomsky’s analysis of resistance, we may find an escape from the closing net…”
Remember, for a shortcut point your browser to
August 9th, 2014
A lot of great ebooks are on sale at Amazon — but only for the next two weeks! It’s their special “Big Deal” sale — “up to 85% off on more than 400 Kindle ebooks” — and through August 24th, they’re offering an incredible variety of choices.
Here’s some of the most exciting ebooks…
It’s six issues of the Marvel comic book — 152 pages — bound together into a full-color Kindle ebook! See Peter Quill (a.k.a. “Star-Lord”), plus Drax the Destroyer, and Gamora — the “deadliest woman alive”. (And of course, Rocket Racoon…) You can read this cosmic comic book on any touch-screen Kindle — as well as the Kindle apps for smartphones and tablets — and it’s a good way to explore the strange characters from this summer’s big blockbuster movie. “Two words sum up this book: Action and Humor,” writes one reviewer on Amazon. “If you like either you should definitely pick it up.”
Are you ready for another eerie journey into a dimension of sight and sound — and the mind? Rod Serling promised TV viewers “the middle ground between science and superstition…the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge” — but the award-winning writer also delivered those same thrills in print! Serling adapated his favorite TV scripts into chilling short stories which are drawing wildly positive reviews from fans of the series. (” fantastically written…wonderful descriptions and wordsmithing.”) There’s even an introduction by Rod Serling’s daughter — and the whole ebook is free if you’ve subscribed to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service. (And if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you can also watch all of the original Twilight Zone episodes for free…)
The Big Four (a Hercule Poirot Mystery) by Agatha Christie ($1.99)
Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective — accompanied by his friend Captain Hastings — is enjoying a boat trip to South America. But suddenly a strange man appears (covered in mud and dust) scrawling the number 4 over and over again, delivering a crucial clue in yet another murder investigation. Or is it international intrigue — and potentially a sinister cabal of crooked criminals waiting to be brought to justice? One Amazon reviewer described this brilliant piece of detective fiction as “absolutely one of Agatha Christie’s best Hercule Poirot mysteries.”
Slash by Slash ($1.99)
The guitarist for Guns N’ Rose delivers a memoir “that redefines sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” according to this book’s description on Amazon. Sharing “intensely personal” stories about a life of unlimited debauchery (from riots to rehab), Slash reveals the path from a rock-and-roll salvation to his own evolution and triumph, in a book which was surprisingly well-reviewed. (“Funny, honest, inspiring, jaw-dropping . . . and, in a word, excessive,” reads its description on Amazon — and the British newspaper The Observer calls it “The most insane rock n’ roll autobiography you’ll ever read…”)
Remember, for a shortcut point your browser to
July 18th, 2014
Amazon’s just announced a surprising new deal! Now you can subscribe to their “all you can read” service for just $9.99 a month! This lets you read any ebook from their special selection of more than 600,000 titles.
And the service isn’t limited to just Kindle ebooks. Amazon’s also including thousands of audiobooks as part of the package. “With Kindle Unlimited, you won’t have to think twice before you try a new author or genre,” points out an Amazon Kindle executive. “You can just start reading and listening!”
And Amazon also lets you “sync” your audiobooks with your ebooks, so you can switch over to a hands-free/listening mode whenever you need to — and then switch back to continue reading at that new location in your ebook! (Amazon calls this “allowing the story to continue even when your eyes are busy.”) It’s a feature that’s been enabled on thousands of the ebooks available in their “Unlimited” subscription service. Just look for this “Whispersync for Voice” logo on the book’s page at Amazon.
There’s even a free 30-day trial, so you can feel what it’s like to have all of these ebooks available without having to worry about price. (Plus a free three-month subscription for every single audiobook available at Audible.com). And yes, this subscription service also includes Amazon’s “Kindle Singles”, so you can also read the shorter new works by authors like Stephen King. Amazon’s even got some exclusive ebooks — titles which haven’t even been released yet, but which are available a month early to Kindle customers…
It’s interesting to speculate about why Amazon’s offering a subscription service. But maybe it’s because people really were shopping around for the cheapest titles. It’s hard for Amazon to make any money if people keep choosing their ebooks from Amazon’s “free” section. With this new program, Amazon will at least get $120 a year from every subscriber.
And Kindle owners will get to read as many ebooks as they want!
July 16th, 2014
It’s one of my favorite things about owning a Kindle. “Each month we unveil a new collection of Kindle books for $3.99 or less,” Amazon explains on a special web page. It always feels like a special event, and if I don’t check out the new selection, I always feels like I’m missing something!
Here’s some of the most interesting titles…
Little Bee by Chris Cleave ($1.99)
It’s impossible not to be intrigued by this novel’s description at Amazon. (“The lives of a sixteen-year-old Nigerian orphan and a well-off British woman collide in this page-turning #1 New York Times bestseller…”) But then they suddenly turn coy, adding “We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it… It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn’t.
“And it’s what happens afterward that is most important…”
Murder in the Ball Park (The Nero Wolfe Mysteries) by Robert Goldsborough ($1.99)
It’s a brand new mystery starring the famous “armchair detective,” Nero Wolfe — and there’s a fascinating story behind this story. The wealthy New York City detective first appeared in a novel in 1934, according to Wikipedia, and continued delighting mystery readers for the next 40 years. And then a new author took over the series in 1986 — publishing another 11 novels over the next 28 years that continued the detective’s investigations. Amazingly, the most recent Nero Wolfe story was published in 2014, and it looks like an exciting case. “Wolfe earns a big league call-up after a senator gets taken out at the ball game,” reads the mystery’s description at Amazon. (And in an ironic touch, the story opens with a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers versus the New York Giants — two teams which have long since left Wolfe’s beloved New York City for California!)
A Dog Named Slugger by Leigh Brill ($1.99)
It’s a true and heart-warming story about a “struggling college student and the Labrador with ‘a coat like sunshine’,” according to the book’s description at Amazon, “and a tail that never stopped wagging…” The student has cerebral palsy, but when she’s matched up with a service dog, “Together, they transformed a challenge into a triumph” — and also inspired everybody that they met. I love a good dog book, and this one has already become Amazon’s #1 best-seller in their category “Animal Care and Pet Essays”. Plus, it’s also drawing rave reviews from Booklist, which call it “a touching memoir”, and “a sweet story about a woman and her dog.”
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine ($1.99)
Before it was made into an Anne Hathaway movie, this charming young adult novel won a prestigious Newbery honor back in 1998. It’s 240-page twist on the Cinderella story, according to the book’s description at Amazon. (“Instead of a demure heroine patiently awaiting a prince who will carry her off, this Ella is a feisty ball of fire with the courage and ambition to take matters into her own hands…”) But there’s one catch: an enchantment forces her to obey any orders that are given to her. It’s quite a premise, and at least one satisfied Amazon customer described it as “the best book I’ve ever read in my entire life.”
Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s discounted Kindle ebooks,
point your browser to:
July 11th, 2014
It’s a summer special that’s hard to resist! Amazon’s offering big discounts on their Kindle Fire tablets — including their newest high-definition Kindle Fire HDX. It’s now possible to save up to $50 on a new Kindle Fire tablet. And Amazon’s also offering discounts on accessories for your Kindle.
For example, for just $119 you can purchase a Kindle Fire HD — a $20 savings over its usual price of $139. That’s for the 8-gigabyte version, but if you’d like more storage space, Amazon’s also discounting the 16-gigabyte Kindle Fire HD, to just $129. (Normally it retails for $40 more — $169!) They’re described on Amazon’s web page as “Our most affordable Kindle Fire, now in high-definition…”
But of course, Amazon released an even better tablet last year called the Kindle Fire HDX — and they’re also on sale! Right now you can get a Kindle Fire HDX for just $199. That’s a $30 savings — and Amazon will give you the same discount if you purchase a tablet with extra storage space. The cheapest model comes with 16 gigabytes of storage, but for an extra $40 you can upgrade that to the 32-gigabyte version. And even the 64-gigabyte Kindle Fire HDX now costs just $259 — a $50 discount over its usual retail price of $309!
Amazon’s touting the special as a “Back to School” deal (calling their tablets “the perfect gift for students.”) But there’s also some other gift opportunities. If you look carefully at each Kindle’s page, you’ll notice that Amazon’s offering discounted accessories as the right side of the page. You can save up to $15 on a spiffy new case for your Kindle tablet. (My last Kindle had a leather case, and while reading it was really nice to feel that soft leather-y touch.) The joke’s on Amazon, because this September I have absolutely no plans of going back to school whatsoever.
But I’m definitely going to take advantage of this sale!
Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s discounted Kindles,
point your browser to
June 26th, 2014
Every month Amazon discounts dozens of Kindle ebooks — to just $3.99 or less! And June is almost over, making this the last week to buy the ebooks at their discounted price. It’s my favorite time to browse for ebooks, and not just because there’s usually a great selection. You can browse all these discounts over the weekend, and then visit the same page on Tuesday (July 1st) to see a whole new selection of more discounted Kindle ebooks!
Here’s some of this month’s most interesting titles…
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut ($1.99)
It’s one of Kurt Vonnegut’s last novel — and with one of his wildest plots. There’s a cluster of characters shipwrecked on an island who suddenly become the only survivors of a catastrophic epidemic — and the novel looks at the world which results…one million years later! One reviewer called it “the humorous, ironic and sometimes carping decline of the human race”, and at least one of Amazon’s customers described it as one of his favorite Vonnegut novels, applauding its grandiose plot and its sense of humor — concluding “in the end Galapagos is interesting, funny, unconventional, and just a great read.”
Hollywood by Charles Bukowski ($1.99)
It’s the second-to-last novel ever written by Charles Bukowski. Just five years before his death at age 73, Bukowski created this 250-page portrait of one of the most extreme cultures of all — Hollywood! After living a life of drunkenness combined with some great and empathetic writing, Bukowski had been commissioned to write a screenplay about his own life in 1984. That resulted in the movie Barfly, but Bukowski wasn’t through with Hollywood yet. “In this hilarious roman a clef, Bukowski draws on his experiences while writing the script…” explains the book’s description at Amazon, adding that the book’s main character is also penning a screenplay about his early life, “as a barfly and brawler, before he became a famous author.” And you’ll recognize many real-life actors, directors, and other famous personalities — because the characters in this book are drawn straight from real life!
The Return of Little Big Man by Thomas Berger ($1.99)
“Jack Crabb is now 112 years old,” begins the book’s description at Amazon, “and he isn’t done spinning yarns.” Thomas Berger’s original novel explored the life of an 111-year-old man who claimed (among other things) to be the only survivor of Custer’s Last Stand. His fantastic stories about real life in the American west inspired a 1970 movie. But nearly 30 years later, in 1999, 75-year-old Thomas Berger resurrected his own character to deliver even more tall tales. “Crabb claims to have witnessed most of the great historical events of the western frontier,” reads the book’s description at Amazon, “hiding behind a wagon after a drunken Doc Holliday provokes the shootout at the OK Corral; joining Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley on tour with their international Wild West show; even taking tea with Queen Victoria when she came out of seclusion after a quarter century!” Like the movie, the novel promises to be funny, but according to Amazon, there’s another layer to this historical fantasmagoria, which they ultimately describe as “a sidesplitting novel of surprising emotional depth.”
And the ebook edition includes a special new introduction by the now-89-year-old author!
A Most Wanted Man by John le Carre ($1.99)
John le Carre has been writing spy novels for more than 50 years. But in 2008, at the age of 76, he reached back to his own memories of working as a British spy in Germany. Or did he? The world’s changed a lot since the 1950s, and in le Carre’s novel (also set in Germany), the intrigue surrounds a mysterious young Russian smuggled into Germany, who may or may not be a terrorist. There’s also a strong female attorney defending him against deportation, and according to Amazon, le Carre’s novel quickly becomes “Thrilling, compassionate, peopled with characters the reader never wants to let go.” They called the novel “fiercely compelling”, but more than that, describe its overall effect as “a work of deep humanity and uncommon relevance to our times…”
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May 9th, 2014
Kindle means variety — there’s always so many ebooks to choose from. And Amazon surprised me last week with with some of their choices for their “Big Deal” discount event. They’d discounted over 400 Kindle ebooks — and at least a few of their selections were sexy literary classics!
The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee ($3.99)
Yes, the famous stripper wrote a murder mystery “set in the underworld of burlesque theatre,” according to this Kindle ebook’s description at Amazon. “The G-String Murders was penned in 1941 by the legendary queen of the stripteasers — the witty and wisecracking Gypsy Rose Lee…” The story’s full of twists (and a double murder), as Lolita LaVerne teams up with comic Biff Brannigan and Siggy the g-string salesman, squaring off against corrupt policemen…. It’s part of a special series called Femmes Fatales that’s resurrecting pulp fiction and hard-boiled noir detective tales for a new audience of ebook readers in the 21st century. And through May 11th they’re also discounting another Gypsy Rose Lee murder mystery — called Mother Finds a Body!”
The Graduate by Charles Webb ($1.99)
At the age of 24, Charles Web published the ground-breaking novel which became the legendary movie chronicling a young man’s affair with the predatory Mrs. Robinson. But both the movie and the book were really about alienation, which comes through even more clearly in Webb’s original novel. While it’s laugh-out-loud funny, there’s also real angst, according to one review, as Webb “savors that that tension throughout the book, devoting large sections to rambling dialogue showing Ben’s failure to connect.” It’s fun to see scenes where this dialogue was faithfully recreated in the 1967 movie — as well as the tantalizing additional scenes that were left out!
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos ($1.99)
This novel won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for fiction — and when it appeared on the Kindle this November, it included a new afterword by the author! It became a movie and an international best-seller, but I was even more impresed with how one editor at Wikipedia condensed the entire novel into a few juicy sentences. “It tells the story of Cesar Castillo, an aged musician who once had a small amount of fame when he and his brother appeared on an episode of I Love Lucy in the 1950s. The book chronicles Cesar’s last hours as he sits in a seedy hotel room, drinking and listening to recordings made by his band, the Mambo Kings…” And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can even read this book for free!
Spider-Man: Big Time by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos ($1.99)
If you like stories about superheroes, this is one of the best collections of Spider-Man stories I’ve ever read. But there’s some fun looks at Spider-Man’s personal life — including his relationship with a sexy jewel thief named The Black Cat! This graphic novel opens with a great story starring all of the Avengers, but it’s not just Dr. Octopus who’s attacking New York — soon there’s a high-powered new version of the Hobgoblin! (And there’s also a new character who I’d swear was modeled after Steve Jobs.) All 144 pages of this collection appear in full-color on your Kindle Fire tablet — but for many of the new e-ink Kindles, it’s also available in black and white!
May 5th, 2014
It’s one of the great things about owning a Kindle: there’s so many things to read! And for the next week, Amazon’s making it even easier, with an event called “The Big Deal”. More than 400 different Kindle ebooks have been discounted through May 11th, so everybody should be able to find something.
I spent at least a half an hour browsing through the entire selection, and here’s some of the ebooks that looked especially interesting…
How Life Imitates Chess by Garry Kasparov ($1.99)
For 20 years he ruled the chess world with some of the highest ratings of any Grandmaster. But in 2007, as he approached middle age, Kasparov turned his mind to a book which “distills the lessons he learned over a lifetime…” according to Amazon, “to offer a primer on successful decision-making: how to evaluate opportunities, anticipate the future, devise winning strategies.” Amazon describes Kasparov’s style as “lively” and “insightful” which touches on memory, intuition, and even the fine art of fantasy. And best of all, you can also pair this ebook with an audiobook partly narrated by Kasparov himself — and then sync the audiobook to the ebook. This let’s you switch from one to the other without losing your place — or to read along while you’re listening to the professional narration!
Bluebeard: The Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian (1916-1988) by Kurt Vonnegut ($1.99)
This isn’t like other Kurt Vonnegut novels. It was published in 1987, shortly before Vonnegut’s 65th birthday, and the introspective novel explores the life of a strange 71-year-old painter. (“I promised you an autobiography,” the painter apologizes in the first chapter, “but something went wrong in the kitchen…”) Amazon describes the book as Vonnegut’s “meditation on art, artists, surrealism, and disaster,” and it’s actually his second novel with his character of the eccentric painter. “Rabo Karabekian” also appeared 14 years earlier in a brief scene in Breakfast of Champions. And through May 11, Amazon is discounting both books to just $1.99 — as well as the Vonnegut novel Deadeye Dick. And there’s also discounts on two fun collections of Vonnegut’s short stories — Welcome to the Monkey-House and Bagombo Snuff Box!
Defining Moments: Stories of Character, Courage and Leadership by Gordon Zacks ($1.99)
One reviewer described these as “Masterpiece snapshots of leadership with mind-blowing take-home value” by an author who “walked the halls of power with the greatest…” At the age of 73, author/activist Gordon Zacks took a look back at the inspiring people he’d worked with over his life. “These stories are first-hand accounts of how people — some famous, some not — followed their passion, lived their purpose, and aspired to be part of something greater than their selves. These people had the courage to seize their moment and make the world a better place, revealing valuable lessons on the path to a more rewarding life.”
The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink by Erle Stanley Gardner (99 cents!)
It’s a Perry Mason mystery — one of the original novels which formed the basis for Raymond Burr’s classic TV show. Through May 11th, five different Perry Mason mysteries are on sale for just 99 cents. Amazon also discounting The Case of the Velvet Claws, The Case of the Perjured Parrot, The Case of the Foot-Loose Doll, and The Case of the Runaway Corpse. I was surprised to discover that each of the original mysteries were nearly 400 pages long. But each one grapples with one of Perry Mason’s trademark mysteries wrapped in questions of law, like “Did Wealthy Fremont Sabin divorce his wife before his untimely death….?”
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April 28th, 2014
Today I took another look at Amazon’s discounted ebooks for the month of April — and I was stunned by how many more ebooks were on sale that I actually wanted to read! Yes, Amazon chooses over 100 ebooks each month to discount to “$3.99 or less”. But this month’s selection just seemed unusually good!
Here’s some of the titles that I thought were especially intriguing…
Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies by J.B. West ($1.99)
For 28 years, J.B. West worked at the White House — a witty and discreet man who coordinated all the day-to-day details for the presidents, their first ladies, and the rest of their families. Jackie Onassis called him “one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met,” and when he finally published a memoir, it sold millions of copies and became a New York Times bestseller. Now available as a Kindle ebook, this 381-page classic begins with stories about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as Harry and Bess Truman and Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower. It’s nice to get a personal glimpse at the lives of the people in power, and West remained in the White House through 1969, so his book also contains some very dramatic stories about the end of the Kennedy administration, as well as the transition to president Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird (and ends with the arrival of president Richard M. Nixon). “Mr. West takes the high road, and we get to enjoy the view with him,” writes one reviewer on Amazon. “Well done, Mr. Chief Usher!”
The Forgotten Sister: Mary Bennet’s Pride and Prejudice by Jennifer Paynter ($1.99)
Another fresh twist on Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Elizabeth’s younger sister, “marginalized by her mother, and ridiculed by her father.” You may remember the quiet and “plain” who just wanted to read books, but in this new 440-page novel, author Jennifer Paynter imagines Mary finding her own intense feelings — for an impoverished young local fiddle player. Amazon’s description calls this book “elegant” and “graceful”, offering its own new look at Jane Austen’s familiar themes. “It is only after her sisters tease her about her ‘beau with the bow’ that Mary is forced to examine her real feelings and confront her own brand of pride and prejudice…”
Ball Four by Jim Bouton ($1.99)
This rollicking memoir by baseball player Jim Bouton became the best-selling sports book of all-time for its wild and funny stories about the major leagues — though it was extremely controversial when it was first published in 1970. (Bouton remembers when the San Diego Padres “burned the book and left the charred remains for me to find in the visitors clubhouse…” adding that “All that hollering and screaming sure sold books!”) Bouton describes Ball Four as “the kinds of stories an observant next-door neighbor might come home and tell if he ever spent some time with a major-league team,” and one of his teammates described Bouton as “the first fan to make it to the major leagues”. Bouton went from pitching in the World Series with the New York Yankees to Seattle’s forgotten expansion team (the Seattle Pilots ) before being traded to the Houston Astros — but he collects together all the lore and the secret taboos of professional baseball in what Time magazine once called one of the 100 greatest non-fiction books ever published.
The New Avengers, Vol. 1: Breakout by Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch ($1.99)
What would happen if every comic book super-villain broke out of prison at the same time? Spider-Man is about to find out, along with Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Luke Cage, and Spider-Woman. It’s six issues of The New Avengers, presented in full color on Kindle Fire tablets (and any Amazon Kindle app), and also in black-and-white for the Kindle Touch and Kindle Paperwhite. And one reviewer notes one of the best things about this collection: “it is funny. Laugh out loud funny!”
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April 18th, 2014
Surprise! Amazon’s offering more discounts on their Kindle Fire tablets. This week, to mark the Easter holiday, they’ve lowered the price on their color, high-definition Kindle Fire HD tablets to just $119! And they’re also offering big discounts on their newer Kindle Fire HDX — both the 7-inch and 8.9-inch models!
I guess when you’re Amazon, the word holiday is pronounced “limited-time offer”. But apparently Amazon can’t decide how much money to let you keep. Below the Kindles, they describe the offers like this.
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ from
Kindle Fire HDX from
Kindle Fire HD 16 GB from
But the final price is actually $10 cheaper for the Kindle Fire HD if you’re willing to settle for the 8-gigabyte model. That’s just $119 — while the higher price tag ($129) is only for the 16-gigabyte version of the Kindle Fire HD. And it’s only $70 more to try Amazon’s newest version of a multimedia tablet, the Kindle Fire HD. The low Easter prices tempted me into doing a head-to-head comparison of the devices!
So what’s the difference between a Kindle Fire HD and a Kindle HDX? Well, there’s 50% more pixels per inch in a Kindle Fire HDX, for one thing — so their picture should be even sharper! The Kindle Fire HDX also ships with a faster quad-core processor (versus the dual-core processor on the regular Kindle Fire HD) — though I imagine you need a fast processor just to handle all those extra pixels. With the Kindle Fire HDX, you also get a front-facing camera (and a built-in microphone) for video chats — and the larger 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX also comes equipped with a rear-facing camera. When you put them all together, you end up with very high-resolution images that you can broadcast in real-time using your Kindle Fire HDX — and it’s even equipped with 4G capabilities, so you can use the latest high-speed mobile networks.
So if you get tired of hunting for Easter eggs this weekend, you can treat yourself to a high-tech gift. Maybe it’s Amazon’s way of saying… Happy Easter!