Amazon Announces a Black Friday Sale on the Kindle DX!

Amazon announces Black Friday sale on Kindle DX

Amazon waited until Thanksgiving Day to announce a big discount on the Kindle DX. The “giant Kindle” with the 9.7-inch screen is now on sale for just $259 — a massive 32% discount from its usual price of $379. (Just point your computer’s web browser to TinyURL.com/BlackFridayDX ) It’s a “while supplies last” deal, which ends on Monday, November 28th. Is this another sign that Amazon is clearing out their inventory of older Kindles?

It’s still more expensive than Amazon’s cheap $79 Kindle, but Amazon seems to have aimed their announcement at true fans of the Kindle. Calling it a “Black Friday Deal (a day early),” Amazon apparently announced the deal only on the Kindle’s page on Facebook.

Black Friday Kindle sale announced on Facebook

And within two hours, it earned 98 “like” votes, and drew 49 comments (like “Love love love my DX” and “GIANT KINDLE!”) In fact, 32 even shared Amazon’s announcement on their own Facebook pages.

But I think Amazon’s trying to sell off their remaining Kindle DX devices. Maybe they’re planning on releasing a DX-sized version of their color Kindle Fire tablet. There’s already rumors that Amazon’s working on larger tablets, and they’ve found their way to the well-respected technology blog, VentureBeat “According to DigiTimes, the Taiwanese blog with deep connections in manufacturer supply chains, Amazon is preparing to release the device in new 8.9-inch and 10.1-inch screen sizes,” they posted Monday.

“The 8.9-inch size is said to be prepping for launch first…”

I love my Kindle DX, and despite the launch of the Kindle Fire (and despite my purchase of a new $79 Kindle), the DX is still my favorite. The e-ink screens are always a joy to read, and with a Kindle DX, ther’es just more of that screen.

And now if you’re interested in trying one, they’re on sale at Amazon at a 32% discount…

Just point your computer’s web browser to tinyurl.com/BlackFridayDX

A Black Friday “Secret Sale” on Kindle Keyboards?

Kindle gift-wrapped as a Christmas gift

Everyone’s talking about Amazon’s new 32% discount on the Kindle DX. (Just point your computer’s web browser to
tinyurl.com/BlackFridayDX
) But if you visit Amazon today, you’ll also see big savings on the Kindle Keyboard (which used to be called “the Kindle 3”). Now you can buy one for as little as $79.00!

They’re used Kindles discounted by third-party sellers, and it looks like some Kindle owners may be upgrading to newer models, and then selling their older Kindles as a way to defray the costs! With names like “starving student” and “the Kindle Man,” they’re selling at least 50 different Kindle Keyboards at a discount — both the WiFi-Only version and the one with free 3G wireless connectivity. And at least 200 more are also being sold at a discount — on eBay! In fact, if you’re looking for a “Special Offers” version today, a used Kindle Keyboard may be your only option, since it it looks like Amazon’s sold out!

I’d been wondering if Amazon if Amazon would try to “clear their inventory” of the older Kindles, maybe timing the sale to occur on the “Black Friday” shopping day after Thanksgiving. In 2010, Amazon lowered the price on previous-generation Kindles (the Kindle 2) to just $89. But this year, even a new Kindle is $10 cheaper, at $79, so maybe that’s a hard price to beat. “There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less…” Amazon’s CEO said when they announced their new Kindle. “We are firmly in the second camp.”

Plus, by this time last year, Amazon had already announced their special sales prices (on Tuesday afternoon). So if Amazon were planning a Black Friday sales on Kindles, they probably would’ve said something by now. What’s really interesting is that Amazon’s cheap Kindles have now spurred a kind of price war, with Barnes and Noble scrambling to offer an equally low price on Friday for their touch-screen Nook!

Of course, last year I wrote that Amazon probably wouldn’t discount the Kindle on Black Friday — just 24 hours before they did! (“BIG UPDATE…” I’d added later to the post…)

So I haven’t given up hope that this year, Amazon could surprise us again…

Amazon Discounts “Best Books of November”

Cover of Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson

Amazon’s created another fun web page to “lure” customers into buying more new Kindle ebooks. They’ve announced their “Best Books of the Month” — their editors personal picks — which will all be available at a 40% discount for the whole month of November. And Amazon’s also found a fun new use for their “Amazon Books” page on Facebook. To attract interest in these newly-discounted books, they’ve also started posting “Great Sentences from our Best Books of November.”

So what’s on the list? Their “Spotlight Selection” is Steve Jobs, a new biography by Walter Isaacson (a former managing editor at Time magazine). It became Amazon’s #1 best-selling book the week
that Jobs died before it was even released (based on pre-order sales) — and it’s still Amazon’s #1 best-selling book. Now it’s available as a Kindle ebook for just $16.99 (though the print edition usually retails for $35.00) — and it’s received the ultimate review from my friend Wendy. She told me her three-year-old son requested that she read the biography to him as a bedtime story. “We mostly concentrated on the photos and captions,” she told me today, “but he fell asleep very quickly.” But it still made her geeky husband very proud.

Amazon’s also selected the best fiction books for November — including the first collection of short stories ever by author Don DeLillo. “From one of the greatest writers of our time…” Amazon explains in their product description, “written between 1979 and 2011, chronicling – and foretelling – three decades of American life.” In the title story, two nuns in the south Bronx see the ghost of a child named Esmerelda. And there’s also an intriguing story called “Human Moments in World War III,” where two orbiting astronauts start picking up an American radio broadcast — from 50 years ago!

The book is called The Angel Esmerelda, and it won’t be shipped until November 15th — a week from next Tuesday. But Amazon’s already begun sharing some quotes on Facebook. It must be fun to be the editor at Amazon who gets to decide which “great sentence” to share. They’ve chosen two from The Angel Esmerelda — though it’s not clear what story they’re from.


“Vollmer has never said a stupid thing in my presence. It is just his voice that is stupid, a grave and naked bass, a voice without inflection or breath.”

“He spoke of distances in meters and kilometers and it took me a while to understand that this was not an affectation so much as a driving need to convert units of measurement more or less instantaneously.”

And there’s quotes from other books on the Facebook page for “Amazon Books” — including this intriguing sentence from an exploration of American oddballs that’s called Pulphead.


“He had touched death, or death had touched him, but he seemed to find life no less interesting for having done so.”

But one true crime book actually came from long interviews with “mafia royalty” over three years — the man who helped the Medellin Cartel smuggled cocaine into America. “As Wright’s tape recorder whirred and Roberts unburdened himself of hundreds of jaw-dropping tales, it became clear that perhaps no one in history had broken so many laws with such willful abandon,” reads the book’s description on Amazon.
At one point the criminal “became so powerful that he attracted the attention of the Republican Party’s leadership, was wooed by them, and even was co-opted by the CIA for which he carried out its secret agenda.” The title of the book? American Desperado: My Life–From Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset. And Amazon’s identified some of the books most tantalizing quotes which they’re sharing on Facebook.


“They say crime doesn’t pay. What a farce.”

“The Medellin cartel was beyond evil. They were like Walmart.”

There’s also a book by a Nobel Prize winner — Daniel Kahneman, who won the Economic Sciences award for challenging the rationality of decision-making, and has finally collected his thoughts together
into a single book. He identifies “fast” thinking — our intuitive emotional responses, which have extraordinary power, but which also influences our more logical “slow” thinking. The book’s title is Thinking, Fast and Slow — and it’s hard to resist the idea of a book which could challenge the way we view our own thoughts!

I remember an aging author who once said we like to read because, just for that moment, there’s an order and a pattern to our experiences, giving a clear “dramatic structure” to life, which is otherwise messy with chaos. I thought of that line when I read Amazon’s “Great Sentence” from Daniel Kahneman’s new book — and it made me crave the security of books that much more. He wrote:


“The world makes much less sense than you think.”

But further down their Facebook page, Amazon also seemed to offering a “counter-quote” from the same book — which shows just how rich a reading experience can be.


“Experts are just humans … They are dazzled by their own brilliance and hate to be wrong.”

To bring this all back around — to me that sounds a lot like Steve Jobs!

Amazon Fans Share Halloween Jokes

Laughing Halloween jack-o-lantern pumpkin cartoon
I’ve found a lot of good information about the Kindle at its page on Facebook, and also on the other Facebook pages from Amazon. (Besides their usual Daily Deals announcements about Kindle ebooks, today they also announced a $2.00 Halloween discount on any mp3 album if you’ll connect Amazon to your Twitter feed.) But last Saturday morning Amazon caught me off guard. They posted a Halloween riddle!

“Where does a ghost go on Saturday night?” Amazon asked its Facebook fans. “Guess the answer, or share your favorite pun-filled Halloween joke in a comment below!” And what amazed me wasn’t the riddle, but the way that it provoked an enormous flood of very creative responses. Now it’s a sunny Halloween afternoon, and I see Amazon’s riddle has racked up nearly 700 different responses from all around the country.

So where does a ghost go on Saturday night?

“To the BOO-vies?” suggested a college student in Georgia.
“To see his ghoul-friend!” suggested another student in Oregon.
“To the spooktacular,” suggested a woman in Arizona.
“Wine and Spirits store” suggested a student in Texas.
“To the spook-easy for a beverage,” said a man in California
“He goes Boo hopping, of course,” posted a woman in North Carolina, “for a bit of brew and spirits.”

I was a little frustrated that I couldn’t find Amazon’s official answer — but I was equally impressed there were so many possibilities! Where does a ghost go on Saturday night?

“The boo-ling alley,” suggested a student in Chicago.
“to the BOOlavard!!” posted one California college student.
“To the boooonies,” posted a woman in Florida.
“Anywhere where he can boo-gie,” suggested a man in New Jersey.
“Up to their boo-doir for some Resting In Peace?” suggested a woman in Arizona.

The best answer of all seemed to come from a Kindle owner. (“Ghosts sit and read boo-ks!”) Another user suggested ghosts go “To BOOks-a-million,” and one comment was apparently inspired by the new popularity of ebooks, posting “Wherever it is, it’s sure not the booooook store.” Author Sharif Khan even used the opportunity to promote his books on Facebook. “Ghosts like to visit my author page and click ‘like’ for some strange reason. It’s a mystery.” But my favorite response wasn’t a pun at all. (“Those ghosts. You can always tell when they’re planning something mischievous — they’re so transparent!”)

What would’ve been confined to a classroom was a virtual conversation across the entire country. It wasn’t even confined to America. Someone even posted an answer from a college in Bangalore, suggesting that on Saturday nights a ghost likes to “Hang out at his favorite haunt!!” And a man in England made a very clever pun, suggesting the ghosts who want to gamble go “To a wraith track!” Halloween had magically united everyone for a moment around a riddle of the random ghost. So one more time — where does a ghost go on Saturday night?

“Scare Dancing!” said a woman in Kentucky.
“He goes to Ho-boo-ken, NJ,” suggested a man in Pennsylvania.
A student at Ole Miss thought the ghosts would go to “A footboo game!”
A student in Michigan suggested “a Boomitzvah!”

“To a boootiful place,” said a woman in Delaware.
“I’d tell you,” posted a woman in Wisconsin, “but it’s un-boo-lievable.”

One response even came from a mother.” My 10 year old says ‘roller scaring’!” And instead of karaoke, one woman suggested the ghosts would sing “Scareyoke!!”

“to the boondocks…”
“to the booseum, to see the moan-ets”
“Out with the ghouls?”
“To the bar and ghoul.”
“To the Ghostry store.”
“the boo-tique”
“To a boo-ery! Haha!”
“He goes BOOzing with his friends! :)”

“He goes bar haunting!”
“That way he can drink some boos…”
“Up to their boo-doir for some Resting In Peace?”
“to his Mummy’s?”
“to the booty parlor”
“Mali-BOO”
“he went to amusement park for (roller GHOSTER)”
“No where,” suggested one woman. “He’s got no body to go with.”
“He goes out to eat and orders Ghoulash. ”
“He works the graveyard shift”
“Out on the Ghosttown of course!”
“Deer Haunting”
“To bed because the sunday they have to get a booo_ stershot”
“She doesn’t go out…she needs her Boo-ty sleep!”

One Missouri student even contributed her own Halloween joke. “Why was the skeleton afraid to cross the road?” she asked. “Because he didn’t have any guts!” And even shorter one-line came from a woman in Arizona. “A Skeleton walked into a bar, and asked for a beer and a mop.” And a woman in Alabama offered this Halloween pun. “What do you call a witch who lives at the beach? A sand-witch!!”

Soon it wasn’t just Amazon’s ghost riddle any more, but a wave of everyone’s most-favorite Halloween joke.

“What do you call a hot dog with no center? A hollow weenie”

“What do Italian ghosts eat: spookghetti”

“What do vegetarian zombies eat? Graiiins, graiiins!”

“What happens when a ghost gets lost in the fog? He is mist.”

Maybe I’m just a big kid who loves the holidays — but it was nice to see so many people having some Halloween fun. It proves that Amazon’s been successful at building a small community of fans for themselves on another social network site, today I also noticed another way Amazon’s integrating themselves with Facebook. When you add something to your Amazon wish list, they can automatically post an “update” about it to your own Facebook page (or your Twitter feed — or even send an e-mail about your wished-for items to your friends). In the long run Amazon may get a few more sales.

But for consumers, it’s also just a new way to have fun.

Happy Halloween!

Happy_Halloween_jack-o-lantern

Amazon Offers Special Low Prices on Kindle eBooks

The Haunting Hour book cover by R I Stine

Time is running out — and I almost forgot to share one of my favorite web pages for the Kindle! Every month Amazon picks 100 ebooks to offer at a big discount — always $3.99 or less. (Just point your web browser to http://www.tinyurl.com/399books ).I’ve looked through this month’s selection, and discovered there’s some really great books that are still available at very cheap prices! The special offer ends Monday — but then Tuesday there’ll be 100 more ebooks available at the same low prices.

And of course, every day Amazon offers yet another 24-hour special on another ebook at amazon.com/kindledailydeal. Today’s “Daily Deal” is especially intriguing if you like Matt Damon’s movies in the “Bourne Identity” series. I’ve seen all the movies based on Robert Ludlum’s books — but I didn’t know his series had continued after Ludlum’s death in 2001. Starting in 2004, seven more “Bourne” books were written — the second of which is available today for just $3.99. It’s identified as Robert LudlumTM‘s The Bourne Betrayal, though it’s written by Eric Van Lustbader. “Subsequent to his death, books written by other authors have carried the phrase Robert LudlumTM on their covers,” Wikipedia reports, “thus asserting the name Robert Ludlum as a trademark. The actual author (not technically a ghost writer) is identified inside.” It’s a Halloween miracle – an author who kept writing after he was dead!

But I’m equally intrigued by the 100 other ebooks Amazon’s priced at just $3.99 or less for the month of October. (Watch out! These deals will disappear at midnight on Halloween!) Amazon’s even ready to help you celebrate the holiday with some special “spooky” books. If you’re a fan of R.L. Stine, they’re selling two different collections of his scary short stories for just $1.99 each.

Each collection has 10 short stories, and one enthusiastic fan declared Nightmare Hour the “Best Short Story Book Ever!!” In a 2007 review on Amazon, they described the creepy plots of each of its ten stories. (“Pumpkinhead… A crazy tale of three kids who go to a pumpkin patch at night, and the terror that lurks within.” ) Even the titles of the chapters suggest lots of fun for young horror fans. There’s “Make Me a Witch,” “Alien Candy,” and even one that’s called “Afraid of Clowns.”

You can see the book’s creepy cover at the top of this post. “I hope you get the picture and buy the book,” writes the enthusiastic reviewer, “because it’s really awesomely cool and fun and terrifying to read at night!”

R. L. Stine had sold over 400 million books by 2008, according to Wikipedia, and there’s a second collection of stories available that’s called Haunting Hour. Some of its more intriguing titles are “How to Bargain with a Dragon,” “The Bad Baby Sitter,” and “Revenge of the Snowmen.” And for every parent who’s had to drive their children on a long trip, there’s even a short story called “Are We There Yet?”

I think the first really scary movie that I ever saw as a teenager was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho — and it’s the subject of a great book by Stephen Rebello. Apparently the movie was based on a real-life serial killer, according to one review, and when novelist Robert Bloch sold his book’s movie rights, he “had no idea who bought it and sold it for very little, but his reputation was made for life.” Psycho‘s startling surprises (and its “shower scene”) made the movie a legend, and a shared experience that a lot of movie-lovers still treasure. This book’s author interviewed nearly everyone involved in its production — including Alfred Hitchcock — and the movie’s star, Anthony Perkins, called it “marvelously researched and irresistible … required reading not only for Psycho-philes, but also for anyone interested in the backstage world of movie creation.” (And Time‘s movie critic called it “one of the best accounts of the making of an individual movie we’ve ever had.” )

Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho house book cover

You can probably tell that I love movies, and you know who’s reviewed every single one of them? Roger Ebert. I’m also a big fan of Roger Ebert — he once let me do a short interview back in 2001 — and now for $2.99 you can get the newest edition of his “Movie Yearbook”. It includes 500 full movie reviews — including every review he’s written in 2008, 2009, and seven months of 2010 — plus his interview with Muhammad Ali, essays about the Oscars, moving tributes to John Hughes and Walter Cronkite, plus his reports from the Cannes Film Festival. He’s a famous film critic (and a Pulitizer Prize-winning author), but what did he think of Avatar, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Inglourious Basterds? The print edition of Ebert’s book normally costs you $29.99 — so it’s a minor miracle that through Monday night, Amazon’s pricing it for just $2.99.

I never actually read the “Boxcar Children” series of mysteries — and I was surprised to learn it dates back to 1924. In fact, it was during World War I that a Sunday school teacher named Gertrude Chandler Warner first got the idea for a series of stories about four orphan children who live together in an abandoned boxcar. Nearly a century later, new stories are still being written for her characters — and in the newest one they confront zombies! “Is someone hiding information?” suggests a plot synopsis at Wikipedia.

“Or should the Boxcar Children really be afraid of things that go bump in the night?”

Buy a new Kindle for just $85?

Amazon's 85 refurbished Kindle 3 sale

Normally a new wi-fi Kindle costs $139 — and even if you buy one that’s loaded with Amazon’s “Special Offers,” it’s still $114. But today, Amazon advertised a refurbished wi-fi Kindle 3 (with special offers) for just $84.99. The total savings? More than 25%.

Within a few hours, they’d raised the price of a refurbished Kindle 3 (with special offers) — but only to $99.99. (Though that’s still a big discount of over 12%.) Throughout this morning, that big discount then seemed to disappear and re-appear around Amazon.com. At one point on the same page, Amazon warned shoppers page that “We’re sorry. There are currently no Refurbished listings for Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Pearl Display – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers.” But when you then visited Amazon’s “Buy a Kindle” page, it was still listed as “In Stock” at the $99.99 price!

Amazon's special 99 dollar Kindle discount offer

And then shortly before noon, all the refurbished Kindles seemed to have disappeared.

What’s going on? I think Amazon’s trying to reduce their inventory of Kindle 3s because they’re planning to release an even newer version of the Kindle in the next few weeks. That’s especially interesting, because I’d heard a rumor that Amazon was only releasing a color, touchscreen version of the Kindle (but not a new black-and-white Kindle with an e-ink screen). But if that rumor were true, it seems odd that Amazon would be reducing their inventory of refurbished Kindle 3s.

Still, maybe Amazon expects there’ll be fewer people who want a Kindle 3 when there’s also a new color, touchscreen multimedia tablet. It’s pointless to speculate until Amazon finally makes their move. The bottom line is that if you want to buy a Kindle 3, you can get a good price if you keep your eye on the Amazon store.

And if you keep re-loading the web page, there’s a chance that the prices will change again!

Keith Richards vs. the Kindle

Keith Richards

He’s the lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones, and just for today Amazon’s slashed the price on his best-selling autobiography for U.S. customers to just $3.99. (“You Save: $26.00,” Amazon’s web page reminds helpfully, calculating the total savings at 87%.) The 576-page memoir was already on my wish list — and apparently a lot of other people wanted it too, since it’s skyrocketed to the #3 spot on Amazon’s list of the best-selling ebooks!

The U.K. edition is £4.99, and in America it’s already spent 89 days on Amazon’s list of the top 100 best-selling ebooks, as curious readers snatched up the truth behind the legendary life of the 67-year-old rock star. (“For many years I slept, on average, twice a week,” Richards writes in the book. “This means that I have been conscious for at least three lifetimes…”) GQ magazine declared him their writer of the year just last week at the Royal Opera House in London. And at a ceremony for the magazine’s “Men of the Year” awards, Richards revealed that his biography is already being adapted into a movie. (Though Richards also joked that he’s dreading the casting call. “The idea of a succession of Keith Richards coming down is horrifying!”)

But here’s one of the most interesting surprises about his life: Keith Richards loves books! “When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully,” Richards once said. There’s the church, “which belongs to God and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equaliser.” A British newspaper remembered the quote when reporting that later in life, Richards even considered professional training in librarian skills, just so he could arrange his vast collection of books using the Dewey decimal system! “He is in fact an avid bookworm who has taken great pride in developing libraries inside his homes in Sussex and Connecticut… The 66-year-old is said to have started painstakingly arranging copies of rare books about the history of early American rock and the Second World War…”

It’s ironic that his biography is the only book by Richards that’s available in Amazon’s Kindle store. (Although there’s also a book called “What Would Keith Richards Do?: Daily Affirmations from a Rock and Roll Survivor,” as well as “Stone Me: The Wit and Wisdom of Keith Richards.”) But it’s only in his recent biography that you get the whole, sprawling life story — and I like how he adopted a mock Charles Dickens style for each chapter’s headings. (“Chapter One: In which I am pulled over by police officers in Arkansas during our 1975 US tour and a standoff ensues…”)

Amazon declared it one of the best books of the month when Richards released it last October, saying Life “captures the rhythm of his voice so effortlessly that reading his tale is like sharing a pint with an old friend — one who happens to be one of the most iconic guitarists of all time.” There’s also some fun pictures of the wild rock star as a young boy, since his book even covers his formative years growing up in Dartford, England. (“Chapter Two… I discover Elvis via Radio Luxemboug… I morph from choirboy to school rebel and get expelled.”) “Why does Keith want to undercut his legend?” asked one reviewer on Amazon.com. “Because he has much better stories to tell. And in the 547-page memoir he wrote with James Fox, he serves them up like his guitar riffs — in your face, nasty, confrontational, rich, smart, and, in the end, unforgettable.”

I like how Amazon’s page for the biography shows you its most-highlighted passages. (“Friendship is a diminishing of distance between people…and to me it’s one of the most important things in the world.”) 177 different people wanted to highlight that observation in their ebook version of Richards’ biography — and 93 more people highlighted a passage about the joy of playing music. “You’re elevated because you’re with a bunch of guys that want to do the same thing as you. And when it works, baby, you’ve got wings…you always want to go back there. It’s flying without a license.”

A reviewer at The Wall Street Journal enjoyed the candor, writing “it’s quite likely that no rock musician has ever written so keenly about the joys of making music.” And in the audiobook version you can actually listen for that passion in Richards own voice, since it’s read by Richards himself, along with Johnny Depp and musician Joe Hurley. (It was voted Amazon’s best audiobook of 2010, according to Wikipedia.) Another reviewer (cited by Wikipedia) even felt that the book belonged in that rare “canon of genuinely great rock literature.” But mostly I’m just delighted that I’ll finally get a chance to purchase this book at a very attractive price.

“There’s something beautifully friendly and elevating about a bunch of guys playing music together,” Richards writes at one point. “This wonderful little world that is unassailable. It’s really teamwork, one guy supporting the others, and it’s all for one purpose, and there’s no flies in the ointment, for a while…

“It’s really jazz – that’s the big secret. Rock and roll ain’t nothing but jazz with a hard backbeat.”

Big Kindle Discount for 18 Kurt Vonnegut eBooks

Kurt Vonnegut

Amazon is advertising a big sale in the Kindle store for 18 novels by Kurt Vonnegut! For the next four weeks, you can buy each one as an ebook for just $3.99. For Slaughterhouse Five, that represents a 50% discount from the regular price of $7.99. “You guys really know how to empty out our pockets,” joked one Kindle owner, posting their reaction on Facebook.

In fact, within 15 hours of the announcement, 288 people had clicked its “like” icon on the Kindle’s page on Facebook. “Quite possibly my favorite author,” posted another user, adding excitedly that it was the “DEAL OF THE CENTURY”. Three different women posted an identical reaction: “love my Kindle.” And another Vonnegut fan joked that they wouldn’t need to buy any of the ebooks, because “I already have them all memorized!”

Here’s a list of the Kurt Vonnegut novels which are now available as $3.99 ebooks.

Slaughterhouse Five
Cat’s Cradle
Breakfast of Champions
The Sirens of Titan
Player Piano
Welcome to the Monkey House
Mother Night
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Galapagos
Fates Worse Than Death
Slapstick
Bagombo Snuff Box
Timequake
Jailbird
Bluebeard
Deadeye Dick
Hocus Pocus
Palm Sunday

I know a lot of my friends will be excited too, because Kurt Vonnegut has always been one of their favorite novelists. But I feel a special connection to the author, because of a precious experience I enjoyed during a visit to Los Angeles. The Paley Center for Media preserves recordings of old and rare programs in a museum in Beverly Hills. In 2006, I paid them a visit to watch the only television broadcast whose script was actually co-authored by Kurt Vonnegut himself.

Paley Center for Media - Museum of Television and Radio - Beverly Hills

It was an adaptation of a story which Vonnegut would later publish in “Welcome to the Monkey House,” though in 1953 the only place it published was the Ladies Home Journal. Five years later, Vonnegut’s sister died, within a few days of her husband, and as he adopted their children, Vonnegut wondered — at the age of 36 — whether he should give up writing altogether. But somehow in that same dark year, his name ended up on the teleplay of a very dramatic episode of G.E. Theatre.

It was hosted by Ronald Reagan, and starred a young Sammy Davis Jr. in the story of a black soldier whose troop passes by a German orphanage shortly after World War II. (One online review calls it “one of the great moments in television history,” since it was one of the first starring roles ever for a black actor on TV.) A black boy in the orphanage mistakes the lonely soldier for his father, and “Private Spider Johnson” soon has to make a very difficult choice. Reportedly even the production crew cried during the broadcast’s final scene, when the solider collapsed to his knees, sobbing.

It’s never been released as a DVD, but I watched on a viewing station at the museum. It’s impossible not to be deeply moved by the story of the orphans left behind by the war. (“Had the children not been kept there…they might have wandered off the edges of the earth,” Vonnegut wrote, “searching for parents who had long ago stopped searching for them.”) The story’s title is D.P., which stands for “Displaced Persons” — the technical military term for the desperate children.

And it’s because of this story that my favorite Kurt Vonnegut book has always been “Welcome to the Monkey House”.

Another Big Sale on Kindle eBooks

Amazon Kindle 399 ebook sale

Amazon is touting another big sale on ebooks, with 100 priced for $3.99 or less. They’ll be on sale for the entire month of September, and Amazon promises it’s “a diverse offering of deals,” each one personally selected by Amazon’s book editors. But it looks like Amazon’s “$3.99 or less” sales will be continuing past the end of September. Amazon’s describing it as “the newest section of our store” in a promotional e-mail, promising the hand-selected will be updated “each month!”

The bargain ebooks are spread across four pages at Amazon.com. (Just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/399books.) But they’re not the only ebooks that Amazon has on sale. Amazon is also continuing its “Kindle Daily Deals” page, touting special offers on ebooks that last for exactly 24 hours.

Tuesday’s special offer is “Bonhoeffer”, available for the whole day for just $1.99! The page is now in its second week, and Amazon’s already sold some great ebooks at a big discount. In fact, nearly every one of them has crashed into Amazon’s list of the top 100 best-selling ebooks. (I’ll put their current rank in parentheses).

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (#5)
Seth Godin’s “Poke the Box” (#13)
William Styron’s “Darkness Visible”
Hidden in Plain View – a Darryl Billups mystery (#17)
The Lincoln Lawyer (#20)
Food, Inc
Elizabeth Street (#86)
Water for Elephants (#28)
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

I have a theory about the marketing campaign behind both of these sales. I think Amazon’s trying to help established authors by making easier for them to climb up Amazon’s best-seller lists. There’s so many ebooks that are already available at a low price on the Kindle, and I’ve seen a few first-time authors crashing past the expensive new releases with their own low-priced, self-published ebooks. Although maybe Amazon’s just trying to fight the perception that the price of ebooks is too high. (It’s a common complaint in Kindle discussion forums — and at least now Amazon can always point to over 100 interesting ebooks which are on sale for less than $3.99.)

So what ebooks were hand-selected for Amazon’s special month-long September sale? Here’s a few titles that I thought look particularly interesting…

The Black Ice – ($1.99) – Michael Connelly is one of just 10 authors who’s sold more than 1 million ebooks in Amazon’s Kindle store. (One of Connelly’s books — The Lincoln Lawyer — has already reached the top 20 in Amazon’s Kindle Store after it was featured as a Kindle Daily Deal.) But “The Black Ice,” published in 1993, was the author’s second book, and the second installment in his popular Harry Bosch mysteries. (Then-President Bill Clinton was reportedly a fan!) In this story, detective Bosch investigates the suspicious suicide of a narcotics officer in a seedy motel room in Hollywood.

Because of Winn-Dixie ($1.99) – Kate DiCamillo’s award-winning story about a scruffy dog who touches the lives of a family in Florida. (“[A]bsolutely loved it,” posted one grade school librarian on the book’s page at Amazon.com)

The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. ($1.99) – This book was published just last summer by Coretta Scott King (who wrote a special forward for the collection remembering how she’d first met her husband). There’s about 120 quotes in the book, focusing on inspirational topics like nonviolence, faith and religion, justice and freedom, and racism. And it even includes an excerpt from one of King’s most famous writing, the “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Hot Water Music ($2.99) – a fascinating collection of short stories by Charles Bukowski available for just $2.99. (“This collection deals largely with: drinking, women, gambling, and writing,” explains
the book’s product description.)

North Dallas Forty ($2.99) – the classic sports book that, according to the book’s description at Amazon.com, is “widely considered the best football novel of all time.” (It promises “the seedy underbelly of the pro game, chronicling eight days in the life of Phil Elliott, an aging receiver for the Texas team. Running on a mixture of painkillers and cortisone as he tries to keep his fading legs strong, Elliott tries to get every ounce of pleasure out of his last days of glory…”)

There’s even a few fun books for children — like “Dinosaurs Before Dark,” the first book in the “Magic Treehouse” series. (It really does look like there’s something for everybody.) Whatever Amazon’s motivation may be, this is ultimately going to be a big win for readers. There’s finally been a real commitment to regularly offer ebooks at a much friendlier price.

Amazon Launches “Daily Deals” on Kindle Ebooks!

Amazon Kindle Daily Deals on ebooks

Remember how exciting it was? Amazon’s announced a temporary price reduction on a handful of special ebooks at least twice this summer — and now they’re going to do it every single day!

In July, Amazon announced “The Big Deal” — over 900 ebooks with prices between 99 cents and $3.99. And in June, they’d announced “Sunshine Deals” — 600 titles priced between 99 cents and $2.99. But today, Amazon announced that special prices have become an everyday thing at Amazon. “Each day, we’re unveiling one Kindle book at a specially discounted price!”

“Check back daily to see what’s next!”

The deals will appear on a special web page at amazon.com/kindledailydeal. Amazon will also post an announcement about the special deals each day on the Kindle’s Twitter feed, and you’ll also see them mentioned often on the blog of Amazon’s Kindle editors, Kindle Daily Post, as well as on the Kindle’s page on Facebook. The deals “go live at approximately 12:00 a.m. Pacific time,” according to Amazon, and they’ll run for exactly 24 hours. The deals just started today, but they’ve already been creating some excitement.

Within one hour, nearly 300 people on Facebook had already clicked the “Like” icon for Amazon’s announcement of the daily deals on the Kindle’s Facebook page. “Can’t wait to take advantage of some of these deals…” wrote one new Kindle owner in a comment below the announcement. “so happy you’re doing this!” added a student in Massachusetts. And another commenter was so enthusiastic, their biggest question was what took Amazon so long?

“About darned time!” they wrote. “Amazon does Daily Deals for every other department. One for Kindle books seemed like a no-brainer.”

I thought it was sweet that Amazon launched the program with an ebook for young readers — The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It’s by author Kate Dicamillo, who had already won a Newbery award for Because of Winn-Dixie, her story about a scruffy dog who touched the lives of a family in Florida. Six years later, she wrote this similarly inspirational novel about a porcelain rabbit, floating away from its original owner when it’s lost over the side of a boat. “Along the way, Edward learns to love the people he encounters,” writes the School Library Journal. “He also learns that family members can be cruel to one another; that hobos have family that they love dearly and don’t want to forget; that no matter how much you love someone, she may still die; and that no matter what happens in life, never give up on love.”

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

“I will not be downloading this book as I don’t want to soak my Kindle with my tears!” one reader posted on the Kindle’s Facebook page. But most of the other comments were very enthusiastic.

“One of my favorite books ever!”
“If you have kids get this book!”
“My son read this book in first grade and adored it.”

And one schoolteacher even left a comment which I thought was very compelling. “I have been teaching for 13 years and every year the kids just love this book. I love the lesson of the book, all the characters and her writing style. BUY it and give it her a try.” But if you’re not interested in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, don’t worry.

Because Amazon will have another ebook on sale tomorrow!

Amazon’s Secret Sale on Kindles?

Amazon special warehouse sale price discount on refurbished Kindle 3

For the last two days, Amazon’s been selling the Kindle 3 at an even lower price than usual. A refurbished Kindle 3 cost just $129.99 — a reduction of more than 31% from its usual sales price of $189.00. And for the WiFi-only version of a refurbished Kindle 3, the price was just $99.99 — also close to a 30% reduction from its usual $139!

This is the lowest price I’ve ever seen for a refurbished Kindle. Back in March, Amazon lowered prices on a refurbished Kindle 3, but only by ten dollars — to $129.99 for the WiFi-only version, and $179.99 for the Kindle 3G. What’s going on here? Maybe Amazon’s getting rid of them, because they’re planning to start selling a newer version of the Kindle soon. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that by the end of September, Amazon will have released two different versions of the Kindle — citing “people familiar with the matter.” (And at least one of the new Kindles will even have a touchscreen, according to the newspaper’s sources.)

It’s a strategy Amazon’s used before. In a Kindle discussion site, one poster remembers buying a cheap Kindle 2 last summer for just $109 — only to discover that a month later Amazon was releasing the new Kindle 3! But it turns out that it’s not just Kindles that Amazon’s selling at a discount. Their “Warehouse Deals” page is also offering big discounts on over 20 different refurbished Kindle jackets and skins. (My favorite was the yellow Kindle skin with the smiling face of Mickey Mouse.)

Mickey Mouse Kindle skin

You can even buy a refurbished Kindle 2 for just $89.99. And Amazon’s special page also promises they’ve checked the quality of all the refurbished items. “Amazon receives a returned product,” explains a flow chart at the top of the page. “Product’s working order is ensured… Product quality level is determined… Product is offered at deep discount.” In fact, the home page for Amazon’s “Warehouse Deals” now features a whole section devoted to the Kindle and Kindle accessories.

So if you’ve ever wanted to shop for another — or for an interesting Kindle jacket — here’s your chance to find one at a discount!

Over 900 Ebooks On Sale!


Amazon Big Deal 99-cent ebook sale


Better hurry. Amazon’s announced a big sale on ebooks — but it ends Wednesday. “Now through July 27, more than 900 Kindle books are on sale,” they explain on a special web page, “for $0.99, $1.99, $2.99, and $3.99.”

They’re calling the promotion “The Big Deal,” and it’s a nice way to highlight the wide selection of e-books that are now available in Amazon’s Kindle store. Besides fiction, I see celebrity biographies, plus books about cooking, fitness and parenting — and everything from Christian fiction to a satirical e-book called “Stuff Christians Like.” Even if the special prices aren’t available in your country, it’s still a nice way to imagine new things you could be reading on your Kindle. I browsed through the list today, and found some books that I didn’t even know existed!

One of the most-popular ebooks on sale today is “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” — which is billed as an “expanded edition” of Jane Austen’s classic 19th-century romance novel. (“85 percent of the original text has been preserved but fused with ‘ultraviolent zombie mayhem,'” explains the book’s description on Amazon.) “This parody shows that Austen’s novel has remained so powerful over time that even the undead can’t spoil it,” reads another review. But it turns out it’s just one of several strange literary mash-ups that are now available at a reduced in price.

There’s also “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls” — which is billed as a prequel by a new author — as well as his follow-up effort, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After”. Through Wednesday each ebook is available for just 99 cents — and you can also purchase a similar ebook titled “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.” Someone’s even attempted a similar re-working of a famous short story by Franz Kafka — The Metamorphosis — by changing its plot so the protagonist turns not into an insect, but a cat. Its title? The Meowmorphosis. (And apparently there’s even a zombie ebook for children, titled “That’s Not Your Mommy Anymore: A Zombie Tale”…)

I’m not the only one who’s excited about the sale. “Just got my Kindle a few days ago, so the timing is perfect…” read one comment on Facebook. In fact, when Amazon announced the special prices, 538 different people indicated that they liked the deal (by pressing Facebook’s “Like” icon) — and another 101 left comments. “At $0.99, it is a perfect opportunity to try new authors,” read another comment, which added “I have found several new authors to read…”

It looks like there’s price discounts on nearly a thousand ebooks. (The best-seller list ends at #972…) But some of the ebooks are just enhanced editions where the text is already available elsewhere as a free e-book. For example, one of the special deals touts the classic Zane Grey western — “Riders of the Purple Sage” — for just $2.99, though the work is now in the public domain, and you can already find a free edition elsewhere in the Kindle store. There’s also an audio/video-enhanced version of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin for $1.99 — though if you’re looking for just the text, a free edition is also available.

I was surprised to find another ebook available for free — an indie biography (with a lot of pictures) called The Beatles: Fifty Fabulous Years by Les Krantz and Robert Rodriguez. But that just goes to show how much fun I had browsing through all of the sale-priced ebooks today. I discovered that even Roger Ebert, the famous film critic, has a funny ebook available at a special sales price, called “Your Movie Sucks” — a collection of his sharpest reviews, now available for just $1.99. And for $1.99, you can also read “Day of the Triffids” – the classic science fiction novel-turned movie that was immortalized forever in the opening song of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

There’s also two food-related books seemed interesting. One was “The I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook: More than 150 Delicious Recipes Using Only Foods from the World’s Greatest Grocery Store” — specially-priced at just $2.99. And for ketchup lovers, there’s even “H. J. Heinz: A Biography” for only $3.99.

So what other interesting ebooks are on sale today in Amazon’s Kindle Store?

Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland ($2.99)
Kindle 3 For Dummies ($3.99)
The Art of War by Sun Tzu ($2.99)
The Man Who Left Too Soon: The Life and Works of Stieg Larsson (99 cents)
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey ($5.99)
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner ($5.99)
Old Yeller – $1.99
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary ($3.99)
Bermuda Shorts by James Patterson – $4.99
Compromising Positions by Susan Isaacs – $3.79
Wuthering Heights: The Wild and Wanton Edition ($2.99)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley ($3.99)

Click here for a complete list

Amazon Lowers Prices on Kindle!

Kindle 3G with Special Offers - an Amazon sale discount of 139


“Our best ever Kindle at a new low price!” Amazon announced today on the front page at Amazon.com. For $139, you can now get a Kindle with a 3G wireless internet connection — saving $50 over the usual cost of a Kindle 3G. Of course, it’s the “Kindle with Special Offers,” where the screen savers are slick images advertising the device’s sponsors. But Amazon had been selling this model for $169, so it’s still a new savings of $25.

My theory? Google released their own digital reading device on Monday — and they priced it at $139. It’s a price war — where consumers benefit — and the rivalry between the two companies probably means that we’ll all pay a lot less for our next new Kindle.

In a statement today, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos shared “A big thank you to AT&T for helping to make the new $139 price possible.” (AT&T is the sponsor of the device, and they said today that the Kindle is “by far the fastest-growing connected device on the AT&T network.”) But Amazon’s CEO also revealed some interesting statistics — suggesting that the wireless capability increases sales for both Amazon and AT&T. “Kindle 3G customers read 20 percent more books, and take advantage of twice as many special offers.”

I already know the advantages, and it really is great to have a Kindle that can connect to Amazon’s store anywhere, any time. But it was fun to watch Amazon try to explain it to new customers who might be contemplating a purchase. “There’s no wireless set up, and no paying for or hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots,” they wrote in today’s press release. “Kindle 3G’s always-on global wireless connectivity means that wherever you are – at the beach, on the train, or stuck on the tarmac – no problem, you can download books and periodicals in less than 60 seconds and start reading instantly!”

I didn’t realize the device had its own shortcut at Amazon.com. Just point your browser to amazon.com/kindle3G and Amazon delivers the web page about their top-end Kindle. They shared this URL in their press release, but unfortunately it’s the wrong one! That’s the URL for the ad-free version of the Kindle — while it’s only the Kindle 3G with special offers that’s been reduced in price to just $139.

Fortunately, somewhere in Amazon’s headquarters there’s a geek who’s created another shortcut to send shoppers in the right direction. I discovered this morning that there’s a second URL — amazon.com/kindlespecialoffers — which will take you directly to Amazon’s web page for the new specially-priced Kindle 3G with Special Offers.

Free Shipping on Kindles – and Other Father’s Day Deals!

Free two-day holiday shipping on Kindle as a Father's Day gift

For the next two days, Amazon’s offering a special deal on new Kindles — free two-day shipping! They’re hoping to encourage customers to give Kindles as a last-minute Father’s Day gift, and they’ve extended this offer to any new model — the Kindle 3 (both the WiFi and 3G) versions, the cheaper Kindle with Special Offers, and even the Kindle DX. Since it’s an American holiday, the offer applies only in the (continental) United States, and of course it expires at midnight on Friday (Pacific Daylight Time). But it’s just one of several specials that Amazon’s offering for Father’s Day .

I was really impressed by some of the other new things that Amazon’s discounted for their countdown to the big Sunday holiday. For example, this week (through Friday) it’s “High-Def Week” in Amazon’s
“Gold Box” deals area. They’re discounting some great gift items — both high-definition video and related electronics — including HDTVs, video camera, Blu-Ray Players (plus movies and TV shows), and even video games! The free shipping on Kindles was sponsored by DeWalt — the Maryland-based manufacturer of power tools. But Amazon’s got some special offers all their own.

Every day at noon (Seattle time), Amazon reveals another big discount as their “deal of the day.” Monday it was an LCD TV screen, and for Wednesday it’s 28% off on a wearable, wide-angle (and high-definition) camera. On Thursday they’ve even slashed the price on a Blu-Ray box set of the first six Star Trek movies (which includes a bonus “Captain’s Summit” disc where actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy meet their counterparts from the “Next Generation” series — Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes).

Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock

And the last deal of the week is a set of tiny high-performance speakers from Mirage…

But I’m also really tempted by some of the other gadgets Amazon’s offering in their special “lightning deals” area. Every day for a few hours, a limited quantity of a certain item is sold at a steep discount — while Amazon tracks exactly how many seconds are left for the offer, and what percentage of the item has already been sold! Wednesday morning they sold an HD Blu-ray disc player for just $99, plus a 160-gigabyte PlayStation 3 for just $199.

It’s really got me wondering what they’re going to put on sale for Thursday and Friday!

Amazon’s Giving Away a $1,000 Gift Card!

Amazon Kindle gift card
It’s Amazon’s big finish. For nearly two months, they’ve been giving away prizes on Facebook — each one an example of something that’s eligible for Amazon’s “Prime” shipping program. The first gift was an Android tablet (made by Motorola), and they’ve also given away an expensive camera, an X-Box, and of course, a Kindle. The prizes were offered in alphabetical order, and this week, they’re up to the Z’s.

So this morning, Amazon announced that Z stood for the “Zillions of things” you can buy at Amazon.com. And the lucky winner of their last Facebook give-away will receive a $1,000 gift card…

To enter, just point your web browser to facebook.com/amazon. (Amazon requests your name, e-mail address, and a phone number.) But no matter who wins, it’s been fun to read the comments people left on Amazon’s Facebook page. “What would you use it for if you won?” Amazon asked. “How would you spend $1,000 on Amazon.com?”

   “DIAPERS!!! About to have a baby in 10 days!!! :)”

   “I’d buy my fiance a tablet & hook our bridal party up w/cute gifts :)”

   “Everything on my amazon wish list that no one else is buying for me”

   “I would buy…my fiance a new guitar, and finally I would get us a couch so we can stop sitting on the floor all the time.”

But a pattern quickly emerged. Even the Facebook user buying the couch also added that “I would buy myself a Kindle and a few ebooks.” In fact, even though Amazon received nearly 1,000 comments since they posted their entry, at least 14% of the comments specifically mentioned the Kindle!

   “Kindle books! Lots and lots of Kindle books….”

   “The possibilities are endless, but it sure would fill up my Kindle fast!!”

   “Kindle books and kitchen stuff! Lol!”

   “Four kindles and running gear”

It’s the ultimate what-if scenario — a shopping spree through Amazon’s endless virtual aisles. But often it was very touching to read the comments that people left. If they won the contest, many of the people hoped to use Amazon’s gift card to buy… gifts, for the other people that they loved.

   “I would buy my wife a wedding ring, since hers no longer fits due to weight loss and the ring is a custom made one that isn’t able to be sized down.”

   “I would gift it to our soup kitchen…”

   “I would get my holiday shopping done early and buy my family nicer presents that I can’t normally afford.

   “Then, of course, I’d treat myself to a Kindle!”

Yes, even as they reached for imaginary gifts in Amazon’s store — the gifts they’d most want to give — it was still the Kindle which kept popping into their minds.

   “a kindle for my friend’s genius kid.”

   “Kindle for my wife and I :)”

   “Kindle for my 8 year old daughter and books. She loves to read…”

   “First, I would get my eldest son a Kindle. After that – who knows!”

   “Kindles for my 3 girls and lots of books. My middle daughter just read 5 books the first week of summer vacation.”

   “I would buy my g-pa the new kindle and MORE BOOKS!”

   “get a kindle for my niece….and lots of books for us both!!!!!!”

   “Kindles for my daughters and books, books, books!!!!!!”

It reminded me of one of my favorite statistics. 47% of the people who own a Kindle say they received it as a gift (according to a study by the vice president of a company which watches the publishing industry). That sentiment was alive and clear in the comments today on Amazon’s Facebook page. A teacher in Kentucky posted she’d use the thousand dollars to buy “Kindles and books for my high school students! I won a grant to buy three Kindles, but an entire classroom set would be AMAZING!”

A woman in Michigan wrote “Kindles for my daughters and grandson, and books for everyone!!! :)”

A woman in Texas vowed she’d buy “Kindles and e-books for the whole family…”

“Books to read over the summer with my son,” posted one mother.”

“books. books, books and more books!” posted a woman in Florida. “oh, and i’d buy my grandma’s birthday gift….which would be a kindle, and some books:)”

Not everyone wanted a Kindle. But ultimately Facebook was still offering small glimpses into people’s lives — and the current state of their dreams.

   “Groceries, times are tough.”

   “Crayons!”

   “…quite possibly this Amazon tablet that I hear may be coming out soon.”

   “STUFF WE LOST WHEN OUR HOUSE BURNT DOWN”

The most poignant comment came from the man who posted that if he won Amazon’s gift card, “I would buy my wife a wedding ring, since hers no longer fits due to weight loss and the ring is a custom made one that isn’t able to be sized down.” But the take-away message from all the comments was that deep down inside, people still spend a lot of time thinking about their Kindles.

   “I would buy a Kindle along with a MOST AMAZING electronic library and my books for the Fall Semester — yes I’m back in school at 50 and loving it! Because I am being all that I can be ! ”

   “I’d finally get a Kindle and buy lots of Agatha Christie!”

   “Kindle Books that I have on my want list.”

   “kindle books and dog food.”

   “A kindle, e-books and a laptop!”

   “A brand new Kindle and a new SLR camera. ”

   “I would purchase another Kindle so that I won’t have to share mind with my grandson…”

   “The possibilities are endless, but it sure would fill up my Kindle fast!!”

New 50% discounts at Amazon.com!

50% off

I got a surprise when I visited Amazon.com this weekend. In orange letters, they informed me they were now were offering discounts of up to 50% off on “selected Father’s Day” gifts. (For a shortcut, just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/AmazonFathersDay). Sure enough, there’s gift-friendly categories like Small Appliances and Power Tools (as well as watches, cologne, and wallets). But there were discounts on items I could actually use myself, like a toaster over, a hand-held blender, a coffeemaker and popcorn popper!

Of course, their #1 best-selling gift item is still the Kindle (Amazon explains in big letters at the top of the page.) But there’s also special offers on DVDs and Blu-ray discs. (Another shortcut: tinyurl.com/AmazonBlurayDeals.) For example, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is just $7.99 on a Blu-Ray disc (or $10.49 as a DVD), and The Dark Knight on Blu-Ray is just $10.99 (or $7.47 for a DVD). Twilight: Eclipse is just $7.45. Caddyshack is just $4.99 (or $8.49 on Blu-Ray), and John Wayne’s version of True Grit is just $7.99.

It was like Amazon.com had suddenly become some kind of crazy bargain emporium. They’ve slashed the price on a Coleman Grill from $179.99 to just $111.26. There were 25% off deals on another classic gift item — an electric razor. And then I discovered that you can also save up to 50% every day in your own neighborhood — through a newly-launched service called “AmazonLocal”.

Amazon launched the service on Thursday by offering everyone in Boise a 50% discount on ice cream, and then a 50% discount the next day on go-kart racing! (“[W]e liked the idea of starting in a city that embraces fun,” Amazon told a local newspaper.) If you’d like to try the service yourself, just point your browser to amazon.com/local and then enter your Zip Code. Amazon promises you’ll save “at least 50% on local restaurants, spas, entertainment, and more,” with special offers that are delivered daily to your e-mail address.

Currently there are no offers available for my town, but hopefully Amazon will have some local discounts soon. And maybe someday, they’ll even get around to offering a discount on the Kindle!

Amazon Slashes Prices on E-Books

Chelsea Handler's My Horizontal Life e-book on sale at Amazon

Amazon’s decided to celebrate summer by selling hundreds of e-books at a discount. “We’re kicking off Kindle Sunshine Deals,” they’re announcing now on Amazon.com, “with over 600 titles on sale for $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99 from numerous bestselling and award-winning authors.” There’s 160 different books that are on sale for just 99 cents, and 480 more that are on sale for less than $3.00. (228 e-books are on sale for just $1.99, and 252 e-books now sell for just $2.99.) “A good book and loads of sun — is there a better way to spend a summer day?” asks a post on Amazon’s Kindle blog.

The sale prices last until midnight on June 15th (PDT), though Amazon launched their special on the first day of June. “The books included in Sunshine Deals are all from small- to mid-sized publishers like Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Sourcebooks, and Tyndale House,” notes one article, adding “As far as we can tell, no e-books published by the ‘big six’ U.S. publishers (which use the agency model, setting their own prices for e-books on Amazon…)” They also make an interesting obvservation — that Amazon is also offering lower prices for pre-orders of two romance e-books (Soldier by Grace Burrowes for $2.99 and Wish You Were Here by Philippa Ashley for $1.99.) “Most book publishers have little experience experimenting with e-book pricing or marketing books directly to customers. We’re guessing that this promotion is serving as a test case for them to try out a range of low prices, particularly on older e-books (or, as in the case of the two books above, on books approaching their publication dates).”

Later an Amazon PR manager confirmed to the web site that the program is “an opportunity for publishers to test compelling pricing coupled with on-site merchandising” (adding “We’re excited about the number of publishers who are participating.” And I have to admit that there’s an interesting variety of books throughout these new bargain-priced titles. For example…

Slaughterhouse Five ($2.99)
Kurt Vonnegut’s classic is now available as a bargain-priced e-book (as is another famous Vonnegut book — Cat’s Cradle.)

My Horizontal Life ($1.99)
Chelsea Handler, the racy talkshow host on E!, tells funny stories about various one-night stands

Casino Royale ($2.99)
Ian Fleming’s original James Bond mystery (which for a while had fallen out of print)

Prince of Tides $2.99
Pat Conroy’s 1986 novel about overcoming a dysfunctional family was made into an Academy Award-winning movie

Promised Land ($1.99)
The fourth mystery in Robert B. Parker’s series of Spenser detective novels

A Death in China ($2.99)
In the early 1980s, Carl Hiaasen and William D. Montalbano wrote what one reviewer called a “fast-paced thriller that captures the real China”

Sophie’s Choice ($2.99)
The original William Styron novel which inspired Meryl Streep’s Oscar-winning movie in 1982.

Chaos: Making a New Science ($2.99)
James Gleick’s best-selling study of how science is being revolutionized by the concept of “chaos theory”

Raichlen’s Tailgating! (99 cents)
32 Righteous Recipes for On-the-Go Grilling from Steven Raichlen (the host of PBS’s “Primal Grill” and a former winner on Iron Chef)


In fact, there seems to be a “summer fun” theme running through many of Amazon’s bargain-priced picks. Besides a 99-cent e-book called “Mini Bar: Rum” (and additional 99-cent e-books for Whiskey, Vodka, and Tequila), there’s also a 99-cent e-book called the “Tropical Cocktails Deck” (where each “card” in the deck offers the reader a new drink recipe.) Amazon’s also advertising two books using a similar format — Massage Deck and The Kama Sutra Deck –and there’s even an e-book called XXX Porn for Women by the Cambridge Women’s Pornography Coop, though it’s more of a practical joke. (“Honey, I paid off our mortgage!” reads the caption on one photo of a fully-clothed man — and the book’s sub-title promises female readers that its subjects are not only hunkier, but also “More Helpful Around the House.”) According to the book’s description at Amazon.com, its authors “understand that sometimes a clean kitchen is hotter than a shower scene.” And they’ve also written a second e-book titled Porn for Women of a Certain Age.

There’s also something called Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno by Kazumi Nonaka, which turns out to be a non-fiction study of Japan’s pop culture (described as a “playful and thoroughly researched handbook”)
And surprisingly, Amazon’s list even includes an e-book that’s called Build this Bong: Instruction and Diagrams for 40 Bongs, Pipes, and Hookahs.

But one book I found particularly intriguing was The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book — written by the actor himself. He’s acknowleding a long-standing internet joke, where impossible stunts are attributed to the former action-movie star. (“Chuck Norris counted to infinity twice… Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door… Chuck Norris does not get frostbite; Chuck Norris bites frost!”) “For the past three years, I’ve been asked repeatedly to select my favorite Chuck Norris Facts…” he writes in a prologue. “So, finally, I’m happy to offer the world 101 of my favorite Facts, with my personal reflections on each… They’re sure to provide you with hours of laughter and encouragement.” He’s donating a share of its profits to kick-start.org, his own personal martial arts charity for children. And there’s even an illustration for each one of the 101 facts, followed by Norris’s own response. (Always starting with the words “Let’s be honest…”)

For $2.99, you can finally read Chuck’s own response to story of how he was bitten by a cobra, “and after five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.”

Amazon’s Giving Away a Free Kindle!


I’m having a lot of fun with Amazon’s “A-Z Sweepstakes”. Every week they’re giving away a new prize, “in celebration of the many ways ‘Amazon Prime’ members take advantage of free two-day shipping on millions of items…” But I’m also enjoying the comments that people are leaving as they see Amazon’s prizes.

Amazon will be giving away their prizes in alphabetical order over eight weeks, so in the first week, the prize was a Motorola Android tablet computer, with Amazon explaining that “A is for Android.” Now we’re up to the K’s — and of course, “K is for Kindle.” The lucky prize-winner will receive a new Kindle 3G with its own leather cover with a built-in light– plus a $50 Amazon gift card!

“How wonderful it would be to win this!” wrote one woman in Tennessee. ” Would definitely make up for my crappy Mother’s Day….”

To enter the contest, just point your web browser to Facebook.com/Amazon (and then click on the Sweepstakes link). Amazon’s form asks for your e-mail address, name, and phone number (“to inform winners”), and there’s still a lot of prizes left to win. For the first week of June, the prize is an $800 digital Nikon camera (“P” for photography), and the next week the prize is an X-Box 360 game console. (“V” for video games). And in the last week — starting June 13th — Amazon’s actually giving away a $1,000 Amazon gift certificate “for your choice of the ‘zillions’ of things you can find at Amazon.com.”

But this contest is fun for another reason. Amazon has been asking questions related to their prize, so this week’s question was related to the Kindle. “What would you read first on your Kindle?” Amazon asked on the contest’s web page — and over a 500 different people posted their answers.

Stephen King stuff
American Psycho
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The directions for the Kindle
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
A Dance with Dragons
Gone With the Wind
Alice in Wonderland

The answers kept rolling in, with hundreds of reading enthusiasts sharing the title of their next book. (And on another page, Amazon simply asked users to name their favorite books.) There were a variety of answers — and over 500 more comments — ranging from “”The Bible” to “Harry Potter”. And one user even said their next book would be The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway “because I’m headed to the festival San Fermin in Pamplona to run with the bulls!”

But this was my favorite response of all. One reader announced that if they won Amazon’s prize this week, “I’d give this Kindle to my sister so I could read the 600> books on my Kindle in peace!”

Amazon’s Special Kindle Sale for Mother’s Day

Amazon Kindle Mother's Day special

Amazon will give you a free $25 gift certificate if you buy a new Kindle during the next 11 days. It’s to encourage you to purchase a Kindle as a Mother’s Day gift — the offer ends at midnight on Mother’s Day, May 8 — and it only applies to the Kindle 3G and the large-screen Kindle DX. Now when you visit the Kindle’s page at Amazon.com, you’ll see the special offer written in pink at the top of the page.

“The Perfect Deal For Mom,” the headline announces…

The offer appears at the left of the page, below Amazon’s usual yellow “Add to Cart” button. Under the heading “Add Kindle Accessories,” there’s a very attractive offer — to “add a $25 Amazon.com Gift Card at no extra cost.” They’re limiting the offer to just one for each customer, and of course, if you return the Kindle, then Amazon will charge you the full cost of the $25 gift card before refunding the price of the Kindle. But you can also use the gift cards at the Amazon-owned fashion site, Endless.com (“Shoes and more,” reads their tagline, since the site also offers jewelry and designer handbags)

Amazon will mail the gift card and Kindle to the address that you provide during the check-out – but that’s just one way that they’re helping shoppers celebrate Mother’s Day. Amazon’s book blog, Omnivoracious, has launched a charming promotion in which they’ll provide personalized book recommendations for the perfect Mother’s Day gift. “If you tell us a bit about your mom’s reading habits — what kinds of books she likes to read, favorite authors, least favorite authors, hobbies… — we’ll get back to you with some books we think she’ll like, and a bit about why we think each one will fit.”

They’re promising to post a new response every day on their blog, urging readers to “ask us, stump us, amuse us!” You can contact the editors of Amazon’s book blog through the blog’s comments page, or by leaving a comment on their web page on Facebook. (And remember, you can subscribe to their blog on your Kindle for free. For an easy shortcut, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/Omnivoracious )

I enjoy reading Omnivoracious, and their blog post even provides a helpful link to Amazon’s own page of Mother’s Day gift ideas.

And of course, Amazon’s Kindle is listed at the very top of the page…

Amazon Announces a $114 Kindle!

114 Kindle Visa screensaver ad

“Good News,” Amazon posted on their web page yesterday. “You now have the option to get Kindle for $25 less — only $114.”

But there’s a catch…

It’s the Kindle “with special offers,” showing sophisticated advertisements in the screensavers, along with shopping discounts which display at the bottom of the home screen.

Visa,

The first screensaver ads for the new Kindles have already been purchased by Visa, Procter & Gamble, Buick, and Chase Banks, and Amazon’s announcement Monday noted that the ads have been specially designed for the Kindle’s high-contrast, 16-color screens. I have to admit that I was impressed by the quality of the images in these screensaver advertisements. And Amazon’s even created a free Kindle app and a web site (both of which they’re hoping to release soon) where “anyone who’s interested” can preview the upcoming screensaver ads and vote on which images are most attractive.

“Our goal is to display sponsored screensavers that you want to see…” Amazon explains on the new Kindle’s web page, and they’ll even let individual Kindle owners indicate their preference from a special menu that’s built into their Kindle (under the “Manage Your Kindle” menu choice). “For example, you can indicate that you’d like to see more or fewer screensavers that include elements such as landscapes and scenery, architecture, travel images, photography, and illustrations.”

The app (and the web site) are named AdMash — and Amazon is offering some pretty attractive deals to entice customers to the new format. Some examples?

* $10 for a $20 Amazon.com Gift Card
* $6 for six Audible Books ( $68 value)
* $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store
     (from a selection of over 1 million albums)
* $10 for $30 of products in the Amazon’s Denim or Swim Shops
* 50% off a Roku Streaming Player (normally $99)

Amazon will update your Kindle with new screensavers and offers, and “To make sure you don’t miss any of the offers, a full list of active offers is available from the menu of Kindle…at any time.” But if the ads still sound annoying, remember that it also means the Kindle’s sold at a $25 discount. “We’re working hard to make sure that anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one,” Amazon’s CEO said in Monday’s announcement.
“Companies sponsor the screensavers, you pay less for your Kindle,” Amazon explained on their home page. “Plus, you receive offers directly on your Kindle that can save you more money…”

Of course, I have to wonder if it’s Amazon’s way of quickly selling off their remaining Kindle 3 devices — so they can then launch a new Kindle 4. But I may just be indulging in wishful thinking. I’m still hoping that Amazon will lower the price of their next Kindle to just $99. At least this seems like a step in the right direction.

The $114 Kindles won’t actually ship out for another three weeks — not until May 3. But if you’re interested in buying one, you can pre-order them here.

Or just point your web browser to http://tinyurl.com/114Kindle

A Big Sale on a Big Kindle

Kindle 3 versus a Kindle DX side-by-side

A 20% discount? That’s what people are seeing at their local Staples store — and at Best Buy! It’s for the Kindle DX, Amazon’s big-screen Kindle, which normally retails for $379. Now the two mega-stores are both selling the tablet-sized Kindle for just $300 — and with the right coupon, you may even be able to purchase one for just $269!

Plus, even Amazon.com is lowering their prices on the Kindle DX — sort of. Throughout this weekend I saw Amazon selling refurbished models for just $319.99. (Only nine months ago, it cost a whopping $489 to buy a Kindle DX — until Amazon introduced a newer model with better screen contrast last July.) Amazon lowered the device’s price to just $379, and changed its color from white to graphite. But even at the new price, the Kindle DX was still costing twice as much as the Kindle 3.

The Staples offer appears on page 8 of their weekly deals flier flier, under a black headline announcing “lowest price ever!” (“3G and a 60% bigger screen… Save $80…”) There was even a display at my local Staples store urging “Try it out! Take one home today.” A store clerk explained that Staples has a 14-day return policy with “no questions asked.” The Best Buy offer appears on their web page. But for both stores it’s an “in-store only” offer.

Staples Discount Sale Ad for Kindle DX

Amazon is also offering savings on the Kindle 3 — though they’re not as dramatic. They’re selling a refurbished Wi-Fi Kindle 3 for just $129.99 and a 3G Kindle for $179.99. (When purchased new, the same Kindles each cost $10 more.) And on the Kindle’s page at Amazon.com, they’re also touting a lower price for a Kindle jacket. It’s the M-Edge “Latitude” jacket, with a nylon canvas exterior with zippers and a grey microfleece interior. It’s now selling for $29.99 (instead of the usual $34.99), and it’s available in six different colors. (Black, Navy blue, teal, pink, purple, and red.)

But I’ve always been most excited about the Kindle DX, and the lower prices make it really easy to buy one. An iPad has a screen with a 9.7-inch diameter — which is exactly the size of the screen on the Kindle DX. (The Kindle 3 has a 6-inch-diameter screen.) With that extra screen space, I could finally read those PDF files where the text was too small. And I really like the idea of playing a game where it’s spread out across the larger screen.

Of course, a Kindle DX always weighs twice as much as a “regular” Kindle — it’s 18.9 ounces (versus the 8.7-ounce weight of a Kindle 3). It’s either bulky and hard to hold, or there’s more Kindle to love. I always thought this would be the perfect gift for someone who really loves their Kindle. Give them another Kindle, but one that’s even bigger, so they can finally walk around with the biggest Kindle on the block!

And I’ve also heard rumors of an online coupon that can save you an additional $30 on your purchase at Staples. It’s for purchases of over $150, but I haven’t been able to confirm if the offer is legitimate. But at least two lucky shoppers found an even better deal on their Kindle DX. Saturday Amazon listed a used Kindle DX which was sold for just $275. And the other lucky shopper was the winning bidder in a fast auction on eBay.

They landed their Kindle DX for just $250!

               *                              *                              *


To check for Amazon deals on a refurbished Kindle DX, point your web browser to

      http://tinyurl.com/RefurbishedKindleDX

To check for Amazon deals on a refurbished Kindle 3, go to

      http://tinyurl.com/RefurbishedKindle3