Amazon Sets New Zombie eBook Record!

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

I have a special holiday tradition. Each year on Halloween, I creep up on the Kindle Store, and take a peek at just how many zombie titles have crawled out into the marketplace. On Halloween night in 2011, there were 2,269 different Kindle ebooks with their word “zombie” in their title. But by 2012, that number had more than doubled to more than 4,874, and it nearly doubled again in 2013, to 8,052 zombie titles.

And this year? OMG!

Amazon’s Kindle store now has 11,430 zombie ebooks!

I’ve joked about the “rising zombie ebook invasion,” but the numbers really do show an unmistakeable trend. One Halloween, I noticed that one of the top 100 free ebooks in the Kindle Store was something called Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. But the real message may be that each Halloween, there’s more and more self-published authors who are writing zombie fiction. Even the Library of Congress only has 783 books with the word “zombie” in their title (up from just 523 in 2011 and 674 in 2013). Oh my god, run everybody — Amazon’s Kindle store now has nearly 15 times as many zombies!!!

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

Here’s some of the stranger ebooks.


Zombie Girl Invasion
Wesley and the Sex Zombies (Free!)
The Scarlet Zombie Sketchbook #1
A Girl’s Guide To Falling In Love With A Zombie

Zombie Road Trip
Jesus vs. the Zombies of Perdition
Zombie Day Care (Free!)

Rock And Roll Reform School Zombies
My Life as A White Trash Zombie

Zombie Lust and The New Flesh


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

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


I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It
Married with Zombies
Zombie Blondes
Confessions of a Zombie’s Wife

Zombie Erotica: An Undead Anthology
Never Slow Dance with a Zombie

Zombie Queen of Newbury High
Zombie Fight Song
Jesus Camp Zombie Bloodbath

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


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

I think zombies may have actually eaten his brains.

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


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

Road Kill: A Zombie Tale
I, Zombie
The Christian Zombie Killer’s Handbook

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Zombies vs. Nazis
The Zombie Cookbook

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

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

Dr. Zombie Lives Next Door
Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion

This trend probably all started when real-world bookstores started seeing big sales of a 2009 parody novel called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (crediting Jane Austen as a co-author). It rose to #3 on the New York Times best-seller list, according to Wikipedia, apparently spawning a new generation of even stranger zombie novels — and zombie ebooks.

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

Jasper, the Friendly Zombie
How I met Barbara the Zombie Hunter
Zombie Joe and the Pogo Stick legs

Growing Up Zombie
Oh No, Our Best Friend is a Zombie!

Zombie Mommy
Phredde and the Zombie Librarian
Day of the Field Trip Zombies



So I had to laugh when I saw an ebook titled “Where are the Zombies?”

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

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Free Halloween eBooks for your Kindle

Edgar Allen Poe

Every year I enjoy the whole week before Halloween — and not just that new chill in the air or the dead leaves blowing by. There’s a special mood for the end of October, and it’s the perfect time to try reading some of the greatest scary stories ever written. Especially since now, they’re all available as free Kindle ebooks!

And Kindle Unlimited subscribers can even listen to their audiobook versions for free!


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

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


The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe

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


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


Dracula by Bram Stoker

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

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

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A Charlie Brown Halloween app!

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Halloween Kindle Fire Android app

Here’s a Halloween treat! Amazon’s dropping the price for the Charlie Brown Halloween app for both Kindle Fire and Android devices. It’s a special surprise that just might bring back some fond memories of “hallowed evenings” past. And I feel a little smile every time I see tbe title: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”

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

Last year I passed out our trick-or-treat candy while entertaining myself with this app. It recreates the classic TV special perfectly, with the original voices and a nearly identical artwork — except now the story is interactive! Linus is still spending Halloween night in a pumpkin patch, but you can actually poke your fingers into the drawings to make all the Peanuts characters jiggle around. And it’s narrated by Peter Robbins, who provided the voice for Charlie Brown in the original 1966 TV special!

Because it’s an Android app, you can play it on any of your color Kindle tablets or on any Android device! And I was impressed by the smooth interface, which includes an old vinyl record on the game’s menu page to represent the narration. (Which you can turn on and off…) But best of all, it’s got all the sequences you remember from the TV special, with some of the artwork even laid out like a newspaper comic strip. It was a real thrill to see Charlie Brown’s big pile of autumn leaves again — and then to see Linus trying to jump into it while holding a wet lollipop!

If you don’t have a Kindle Fire, there’s still some other Halloween games available at Amazon for the black-and-white Kindles. I love “Futoshiki Halloween Edition, and there’s also a Halloween version of the game Blossom. There’s even a Halloween version of Mahjong Solitaire, and if you’re looking for something scarier, there’s also a text adventure “Choice of the Zombies”.

But I have fond childhood memories of watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. So if you’ve always wanted a free app that revives this Halloween tradition…there’s a special treat waiting for you tonight in Amazon’s appstore.


Remember, for a shortcut, just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/CharlieHalloween

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Amazon Discounts their Kindle Fire HDX!

Kindle Fire HDX discount

Amazon’s just announced a big sale on their Kindle Fire HDX — a $20 discount! “Built for work and play” reads their headline, describing “the 7″ tablet with an with an ultra-fast quad-core processor, powerful graphics engine, world-class Dolby Audio, a perfect-color HDX display, and Mayday.” Now you can get a new one for just $179!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s special offer, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/HDXdiscount

It used to cost $50 more when it was first released, but even then its reviews were amazing. “Far better than an iPad,” wrote one reporter at ZDNet, adding “what Apple bought to market, Amazon has improved upon dramatically.” Even at $229, its price was much lower, but there were also more tangible benefits too. “Side-by-side, the display on the Kindle Fire HDX blows away that of the iPad.

“Not only do the colors look superior and more vivid, but also the brightness is better and the way blacks are handled – especially in video – is much more even…”

Of course, Amazon has even cheaper tablets. I’m amazed that a Fire HD 6 now costs just $99, and the Fire HD 7 is just $139. But the HDX has a stunning high-definition display (with 323 pixels per inch), and a faster quad-core processor which makes it extra responsive. Even its battery will last 11 hours without a charge

But the best thing about the Kindle Fire HDX may be its special on-device “Mayday” button. You can actually summon a live Amazon representative whenever you want, so any technical issues can be resolved instantly. Yes, some Amazon customers abuse the privilege with silly questions like “Will you read me a bedtime story?” But when I’ve got a technical problem with my device, I want it gone just as soon as possible.

Because then I can go back to having fun with my high-definition tablet…!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s special offer, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/HDXdiscount

Kindle Fire HDX discount

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Some Geeky New Books for October

Neil Patrick Harris - Choose Your Own Autobiography      Go and Add Value Someplace Else - a Dilbert book by Scott Adams

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution      Prince Lestat - The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

We all love reading Kindle ebooks, but today I noticed a very special page on Amazon. Their own editor’s had assembled a collection of what they considered the best new books of October. It’s a great selection of brand new books and Kindle ebooks — and a fun way to browser for something new to read..

For a shortcut to Amazon’s page, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/BestOctoberEbooks

Amazon’s editors even broke down their selections into 16 different categories. (There’s the best new biographies, children’s picture books, and even the best new Graphic Novels…) “We’re happy to share with you the unique mix of books that our editors have hand picked as this month’s best,” Amazon says at the top of the page. Here’s a look at some of their picks for the most interesting new ebooks of October.


The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
His last book, Steve Jobs, became a record-breaking best-seller (based on 40 interviews between the author and Jobs over the last two years before his death). Now Walter Isaacson looks beyond Apple Computers to the other pioneers — both past and present. Steve Wozniak gets some attention, along with Bill Gates, Larry Page, and Tim Berners-Lee. But Isaacson also looks back to female pioneer Ada Lovelace who in the 1840s wrote about an “analytical engine” proposed by Charles Babbage — and also wrote the very first computer program.


Neil Patrick Harris - Choose Your Own Autobiography

Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
Maybe you remember him from How I Met Your Mother. (Or from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle…) But this Tuesday, Neil Patrick Harris takes his unpredictible personna to a whole new format. “Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened…reads his books description on Amazon. “Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the ” back in ‘aUtobiography’…?” Calling it “a Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative”, Harris has written an entire autobiography that’s written in the second person — all about you!

“You will be born to New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

“Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas…”


Prince Lestat - The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

After more than a decade, Anne Rice returns to her “Vampire Chronicles” series with a new 480-page novel about the vampire prince Lestat. “The newly resurrected, but no less rebellious, Lestat addresses a mysterious twenty-first century vampire genocide,” Amazon writes in their description of the book, “with the same panache, self-absorption, and drama readers have come to know and love. ” The book jumps from the present to the past, and its sprawling story “raises interesting questions about the boundaries of science, conflicting beliefs, and a universal need to belong”. Even more interesting, the book has already become Amazon’s best-selling suspense novels — three weeks before the book is released on October 28th!


Go and Add Value Someplace Else - a Dilbert book by Scott Adams

“Go Add Value Someplace Else: A Dilbert Book” by Scott Adams
Scott Adams will release a brand new collection of Dilbert cartoons in just three weeks (on October 28th). And the Kindle edition is just $8.49. For past collections, at least some Amazon reviewers complained that the cartoons were hard to read on their small handheld Kindles. But comic strips have always looked great on the larger screens of Amazon’s Kindle full-color tablets — so hopefully this collection will find a happy audience of satisfied readers!

Remember, for a shortcut to all of Amazon’s “Best Books of October”,
point your browser to

tinyurl.com/BestOctoberEbooks

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October’s Discounted Kindle eBooks!

Crazy Horse and Custer by Stephen Ambrose      Deadpool Classic

Goosebumps - Night of the Living Ventriloquist's Dummy      A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers


There’s some great discounts in the Kindle Store this month. Every month Amazon picks 100 Kindle ebooks for a steep discount, with most of the books selling for $1.99 or less! And this month there’s some ebooks that I’m really excited about.

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


A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers ($1.99)

“Exhilarating…. Profoundly moving, occasionally angry, and often hilarious…” wrote The New York Times Book Review — and this was one of the most intriguing memoirs I’ve ever read. A surprisingly funny and entertaining memoir about what happens to two sons when their parents both die of cancer, the Times writes that it “manages to be simultaneously hilarious and wildly inventive as well as a deeply heartfelt story of the love that holds a family together.” It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, according to Wikipedia, and The London Times also named it one of the best books of the entire decade. When it was first released in 2000, Time magazine called it “The Best Book of the Year”, and it’s one of those rare books that you’ll never forget.


Deadpool Classic

Deadpool Classic, Vol. 1 ($3.99)

Marvel comic books are a guilty pleasure, so it’s great when they’re collected together into a big “graphic novel” for your Kindle. “Deadpool Classic” brings you 264 pages — nine full issues! — for just $3.99, starting with the four issues of Deadpool’s very first mini-series — and also the four issues of his next mini-series. Deadpool eventually got his own ongoing title, and this graphic novel also includes that as its final story. Like the She-Hulk, Deadpool actually “breaks the fourth wall,” talking directly to readers, which makes this collection a special treat. And if you’re interested in more Deadpool comics, Amazon’s also discounting another graphic novel — Deadpool: Dead Head Redemptionto just $3.99!


Crazy Horse and Custer by Stephen Ambrose

Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warrior by Stephen Ambrose ($1.99)

I’ve always loved how Stephen Ambrose describes history. Little Bighorn, Montana saw the moment when General Custer launched a his infamous attack on 3,000 Indian warriors led by native American war leader Crazy Horse. “Both were men of aggression and supreme courage,” reads the book’s description at Amazon. “Both became leaders in their societies at very early ages. Both were stripped of power, in disgrace, and worked to earn back the respect of their people.

“And to both of them, the unspoiled grandeur of the Great Plains of North America was an irresistible challenge….”

And if you’ve got a subscription to the Kindle Unlimited service, this ebook is free!


Goosebumps - Night of the Living Ventriloquist's Dummy

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

Just in time for Halloween, Amazon’s discounting a great tale about a ventriloquist’s dummy. One reviewer on Amazon described it as children’s horror literature, adding that Night of the Living Dummy “is quite possibly the greatest Goosebumps book ever written…” That’s no small claim, since there’s over 60 different books in the series, and It’s hard to underestimate the huge popularity of the series. Over 350 million Goosebumps titles have been sold, and one newspaper even called their author the Stephen King of children’s books. So it’s especially nice that for Halloween, Amazon’s discounting one of the very first books in the series, which they’re lovingly describing as a “fan-favorite thriller and chiller”. (And it even includes new bonus material — about the scary ventriloquist dummy who comes to life…!)

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The Best Baseball eBooks


Cover of the book Coach: Lessons in the Game of Life by Michael Lewis      Ball Four - Jim Bouton

Bill Veeck's Crosstown Classic      Bang the Drum Slowly

I love baseball — but even if you’re just looking for a good novel, there’s still some great Kindle ebooks about the drama behind the sport. It seems to attract a special brand of optimism, and some surprisingly thoughtful commentary. Words like “triumph” and “hope” are just fancy ways of saying that people fight hard over the course of a lifetime, to try to realize their dreams. And with this year’s post-season about to begin, here’s my picks for the very best Kindle ebooks about baseball.



Ball Four - Jim Bouton

Ball Four: the Final Pitch by Jim Bouton

I’ve always loved this rollicking memoir by a baseball player, which in 1970 became the best-selling sports book of all-time for its wild and funny stories about the major leagues. And Amazon is now selling the Kindle edition of “Ball Four: The Final Pitch”, which includes a fascinating look back — more than 25 years later — by the book’s original author! Ball Four was extremely controversial when it was first published — simply because it was so shockingly candid. (Author Jim 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.


Cover of the book Coach: Lessons in the Game of Life by Michael Lewis

Coach by Michael Lewis

The author of Moneyball also wrote this heartfelt memoir about his own high school baseball coach, and what young Michael Lewis had learned when he took the pitcher’s mound in a crucial 9th inning… Lewis remembers coach Fitz as “a 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound minor-league catcher with the face of a street fighter hollering at the top of his lungs for three straight hours.” The eighth grade students were afraid of him, and his intensity spawned legends about just how tough Coach Fitz really was. Yet when the pressure is finally on, “Fitz leaned down, put his hand on my should and, thrusting his face right up to mine, became as calm as the eye of a storm. It was just him and me now; we were in this together… ” And by the end of the story, I was convinced that this 96-page book would make a wonderful gift for a teacher — or maybe even for anybody who’s a parent.

And again if you’re a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited, it’s free!


Bang the Drum Slowly

Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris

“From here on out, I rag on nobody…” It’s been called one of the greatest lines of dialogue in the movies, but it stems from a stunning 1956 novel. Author Mark Harris wrote four novels about the life of a major league catcher, but this is the novel that people always remember. Robert De Niro starred in the film adaptation — one of his first starring roles at the age of 30 — but the “voice” of the narrator in this novel is impossible to forget. There’s something about sports fiction that makes authors want to reach even further, and this novel follows the same path, describing a friendship between two men that grows slowly as they face an even bigger challenge beyond the baseball diamond.


Bill Veeck's Crosstown Classic

Bill Veeck’s Crosstown Classic by Bill Veeck

This book contains one of my all-time favorite baseball stories, about the day that Eddie Gaedel stepped up to bat. Eddie Gaedel was 3′ 7″ — a midget — but the owner of the St. Louis Browns had snuck him onto the line-up card for the second game of a double-header. “Play ball!” the umpire roared, as the opposing team’s pitcher laughed and conferred with his catcher. (“Pitch him low,” the catcher joked — but the pitcher never could find the strike zone…) Eddie Gaedel walked to first base in his one only — giving him a lifetime perfect on-base percentage of 1.000. And decades later, the owner of that baseball team shared the full story — and dozen of others — with lots of humor and lots of insights drawn from lifetime spent in professional baseball.

It’s a great way to look on a century of great baseball stories — as the 2014 post-season begins!


Eddie Gaedel

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Twitter and Amazon Create New Add-to-WishList Tweets!

Amazon joins Twitter for wish list hash tags!

Now you can link your Twitter account to your Amazon wish list, and request those special gifts with just a hashtag! Whenever there’s an Amazon URL in a tweet, now just include #AmazonWishList in your reply — and Twitter and Amazon will make sure the item gets added to your wish list!

For a shortcut to setup this new feature, go to
tinyurl.com/TwitterWishes

And Amazon’s also added more functionality to their Wish Lists. With its new “Save-A-Photo” feature, you can now take a picture — of anything — and then save it to your Amazon Wish List. In fact, now your Amazon wish list can even include items that you found on other shopping sites. There’s a new easy browser add-on that’s making it possible, which Amazon is calling “the Universal Wish List”.

But here’s my favorite feature: “Don’t Spoil My Surprises!” This lets you keep your Amazon wish list up-to-date for any friends who might shopping from it — but it won’t remove those items that were purchased when you’re looking at the list. That way, “every gift is truly a surprise,” Amazon explains in their press release. And you can even add a “Virtual Note” to your wish list, if you want to make general suggestions about what people should be buying you!

“Last year, one in three Amazon customers worldwide wished,” Amazon explains in a new press release, and the end result was more than 4.3 million “wish list” items being added every day. if Amazon maintained that pace for an entire year, it’d mean the addition of 1,576,800,000 wish list items in just one year!

Of course, Amazon’s gearing up for the big holiday shopping season. Just make sure you don’t add things to your wishlist by accident once you’ve connected it to your Twitter account. I can imagine someone sharing a ridiculous product’s URL on Twitter, like this giant Horse Head Mask. “#AmazonWishList ,” I might tweet back jokingly.

Only to discover that it’s actually been added to my Amazon Wish List!

Horse Head Mask from Amazon

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Amazon Slashes Tablet Prices to $99!

Fire HD6

Amazon’s just introduced an adorable new high-definition tablet — for less than $99! Their new “Fire HD6″ tablet comes with brilliant high-def color (252 pixels per inch) , and it’s available with a 6-inch or 7-inch screen, “in five fun color choices.”

For a shortcut to Amazon’s new Kindle, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/FireHD6

The six-inch edition is only $99, while the 7-inch version costs another $30 ($139). “Fire HD is the most powerful tablet under $100,” bragged Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. “The new Fire HD features a stunning HD display, quad-core processor, Dolby Digital Audio, front and rear-facing cameras, incredible reliability, and Amazon’s unmatched content ecosystem – all supported by Amazon customer service.”

I’m stunned that it costs just $99 and comes with two cameras — both front- and rear-facing — for two-way video conversations. But then again, I recently bought a 15.6-inch laptop computer for just $250. I joked to a friend that electronic parts have gotten so cheap, now we’re just trying our different configurations. Do you want a larger screen with a physical keyboard, or just a medium-sized tablet device with a touchscreen keyboard. Or, or course, a phone-sized device…

Which seems to be Amazon’s grand master plan. At 6 inches, the FireHD6 is just half an inch larger than the iPhone 6 Plus which Apple just released this week — and it’s $300 cheaper. Amazon is already touting the ability of their FireHD6 to make Skype calls…with video! And when you look past its calling capabilities, “Fire HD delivers a world-class entertainment experience,” according to Amazon’s press release, “with over 33 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, and Android apps and games…”

What’s really happening may be the beginning of a smart long-term plan. Amazon’s making it cheap and easy for customers to try out the Amazon “ecosystem”. Once you start buying your music and apps from Amazon, the theory goes, you won’t want to switch to another company’s device. Amazon makes it profit from the thing you’ll purchase with the device — all the apps and the ebooks and digital music and video content. That could explain why the prices are so cheap for the FireHD6, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Amazon was selling the devices “at cost”, or even at a small loss!

Because once you start spending your time with a FireHD6, they’re hoping that you’ll also start spending your money!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s new Kindles, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/FireHD6

Fire HD7 comes in magenta, cobalt, citron, black, and white

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September Kindle eBook Discounts!

John Lennon - The Life by Philip Norman Easy Go by Michael Crichton

The Best American Short Stories 2013 - Eliabeth Strout Daredevil Volume 1


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.

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


Here’s some of the most interesting selections…


John Lennon - The Life by Philip Norman

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

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 - Eliabeth Strout

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 Volume 1

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!

Ultimate X Men - Tomorrow People


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

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Can the iPhone 6 Beat Amazon’s Kindle Fire?

Steve Jobs on an iPhone

The war is on — which smartphone will win? Or is Apple really trying to fight Amazon’s Kindle Fire? It’s fun to watch two giant tech companies trying to out-do each other by creating even more exciting new gadgets. But at some point you have to ask: which fight are we really watching? Did Apple just release a new phone, or a new tablet?!

But my response would be that it doesn’t matter. I always think of the long-term war between Apple and Microsoft. Actually, I remember the way it was acted out in the movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley”. It ends with Steve Jobs confronting Bill Gates over Microsoft’s plans to take over the market for personal computers. Microsoft succeeded, but I like to think that Steve Jobs personally calculated the strategy that would one day help Apple reclaim the lead.

The storyline looks like this. Steve Jobs knows that computers will get smaller and smaller, and eventually “computing” will be mostly practiced on tiny devices that we’d hold in our hands. So back in 2001, Apple releases their first iPod, and quickly carves out a niche in “fresh territory”. The iPod gets better and better, and within 6 years, Apple adds the ability to make phone calls to their handheld devices — and also the ability to run apps. And what was the iPad, really, but a big iPhone, for running apps on a giant screen?

There’s debate now about whether you can really replace a personal computer with a handheld device, but it’s undeniable that people love owning a tablet. Amazon, of course, has been selling Kindles for the last 7 years, and they introduced their own line of multimedia tablets in 2011. But the Kindle Fire may just have been a defensive move by Amazon — to make sure Apple didn’t lure away everyone who wanted to read ebooks on a handheld device.

And then Amazon launched an offensive move — releasing a smartphone of their own. The Fire Phone was even discounted massively this week, from $199 apiece to just 99 cents (with a two-year service contract). But I’m still wondering if we’re missing the real battle that Amazon is fighting here. The Fire Phone comes with a “Firefly” feature which makes it easy to instantly purchase items (using your Amazon account to automatically handle all the billing). Maybe Amazon isn’t worried about losing customer’s who’d buy ebooks, digital readers, or even handheld tablets.

Maybe Amazon’s worried about losing ground in the war for all commerce — the ability to handle every payment that gets made on a mobile device.

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OKCupid Founder Unleashes “Dataclysm”

Dataclysm by OkCupid found Christian Rudder

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)

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

“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!”

Remember, for a shortcut, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/Dataclysm

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A 35% Discount on a Kindle Fire HD!

Amazon discounts the Kindle Fire HD with a red gift bow for the Christmas holiday

“Today Only,” read the special announcement on Amazon. Friday they’d slashed the prices on the Kindle Fire HD to just $129!

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

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!

Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD page, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/SeptemberKindleFire

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New XKCD Book Discounted 50% for Pre-Orders

XKCD cartoonist publishes a What If book

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)!

For a shortcut to the discounted book’s page, point your browser to
tinyURL.com/XKCDAuthor

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…

XKCD book tour map

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
tinyURL.com/XKCDAuthor

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Amazon Discounts eBook/Audiobook Combinations


Dead Man's Folly - a Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie   Sarah Silverman - the Bedwetter

Anathem by Neal Stephenson   Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

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!

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

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

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.


Sarah Silverman - the Bedwetter

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 - a Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie

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!


Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield ($3.99)

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:

tinyurl.com/399KindleEbooks

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What is Jeff Bezos’s Favorite Book?

The Remains of the Day

I loved all the personal stories that Jeff Bezos shared in a speech I found on the web last week. He delivered the speech in 2001 to an audience of young aspiring entrepreneurs. And at one point, he shares a fond remembrance of the library where he’d read books as a teenager — and reveals his favorite book.

For a shortcut, point your browesr to
tinyurl.com/JeffBezosRemembers

His parents were in the audience that day, and Jeff Bezos remembers one important fact about his own childhood. “My parents will attest to the fact that I was difficult to punish as a child, because I was quite happy to be grounded — to stay in my room and read!” But then one member of the audience asked him a personal question. You sell a lot of books — but do you ever read them?

Jeff answers yes, but then surprises the audience by revealing that to this day, at least half of the books he reads are science fiction. It seems logical, since he grew up to be a successful and celebrated visionary — but he traces his preference to the summers he spent on his grandfather’s ranch. His grandfather lived in Texas, and Bezos spent some summers there as a teenager, in a tiny town of 3,000 people — with its own tiny library. Books were donated by the townspeople, and a third of the collection was science fiction, “because there was this one guy in town who loved science fiction.”

Decades later, maybe that was in his mind when he made his fateful decision to start Amazon.com. He’d made a list of 26 possible products — “the first, best product to sell online” — studying a list of all the top products being sold by mail order. There was clothing, music, videos, computer software and hardware. And it’s fascinating to see that in the years since, Amazon has since gone on to sell all of them…

But were those science fiction books in his mind when he decided that the first product they’d sell would be books? Bezos listed out the practical business case for an online bookstore “There are literally millions of different books in print at any given time, and computers are good at organizing such large selections of products. You could build something online that literally couldn’t be built any other way.” (Imagine trying to print a paper catalog with every title, Bezos tells the crowd or a physical bookstore with copies of everything!)

After all that, Jeff Bezos still loves curling up with a good science fiction book, he tells the crowd, saying it still accounts for at least half of the books he reads. But then he reveals to the audience what his favorite novel is. Remains of the Day — the story of a butler who looks back over his life wondering if he missed an opportunity which will never come again. The 1989 book is an award-winning literary novel, but it would never be described as science fiction. “My wife inflicts good fiction on me every once in a while,” he jokes to the audience.

“Which I always end up loving…”

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More Great eBooks Get “Big Deal” Discounts!

Perry Mason pulp fiction cover - the Case of the Angry MournerI'll Fly Away by Wally Lamb.jpg
Shot All to Hell - Jesse James history by Mark Lee GardnerProfit Over People by Noam Chomsky

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!

Check out the selection! Point your browser to
tinyURL.com/TheBigEbookDeal

Here’s a few more of the most interesting titles…


Perry Mason pulp fiction cover - the Case of the Angry Mourner

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.jpg

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 history by Mark Lee Gardner

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 by Noam Chomsky

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
tinyURL.com/TheBigEbookDeal

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An Inspiring Story by Jeff Bezos

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos

Last year Amazon’s revenue was $74 billion. So it’s fascinating to remember when the company was just 10 people…and a dream. Today I stumbled across a remarkable video on YouTube showing Jeff Bezos — the founder of Amazon — describing its early days, their shared struggles, and the one idea which kept them going.

For a shortcut, point your browser to
http://tinyurl.com/JeffBezosRemembers

The funniest part of the speech is when Jeff Bezos takes the stage, he jokes to the audience that his name is Garth Vegan. “I’m going to be speaking to you about choreography,” he continues, before launching into his story. But it is a different Bezos than we’re used to seeing. The speech was delivered 13 years ago, in 2001 — when the founder of Amazon was still a young man in his 30s…

Jeff remembers when his company wasn’t even called Amazon. Its original name was Cadabra, Inc — as in Abracadabra. But he changed his mind when a lawyer mistook its name for “Cadaver, Inc.” He knew he needed something better — because he was risking his career to take a chance on the promise of online shopping.

His wife was in the audience that day, and Jeff remembered that “She had married a relatively stable person — goofy, but relatively stable — working at a law firm.” When she’d married him, Jeff had a nice steady job at a Wall Street hedge fund, so “This was a hard decision…” In fact, most of Amazon’s original employees kept their day jobs while they spent their nights filling the orders that would come in to the company.

Their first “distribution center” that was just 400 square feet — about the size of a one-car garage — when one of the engineers said “I can’t figure out if this is incredibly optimistic — or hopelessly pathetic.” And Bezos didn’t know. There was no way to know how customers would respond. But I love the way Jeff Bezos ultimately came to his decision, using what he described as a “regret-minimization” framework. You project yourself to the age of 80, and then try to minimize the number of regrets you’ll have when you’re looking back over your life…

“If I go do this thing, and participate in this thing called the internet, that I genuinely believe is going to be a big deal — and if I fail, am I going to regret having tried and failed?” Jeff Bezos knew that the answer was no. And he also knew that he’d always regret it if he didn’t try. “I would always wonder, and it would haunt me…”

As Jeff spoke, he acknowledged that his parents were also in the audience that day — and they were also one of his web site’s very first supporters. He told the crowd they’d invested “a reasonably large fraction” of their life savings — over $300,000 — into their son’s dream. And it was pretty much faith. “My dad’s first question was… What’s the internet?!”

They weren’t betting on any grand vision, Bezos explains. They were betting on their son. And he’d also confessed to them at the time that there was at least a 70% chance that they were going to lose it all. But in the first 30 days, the site got orders from all 50 U.S. states — plus 45 other countries. They couldn’t handle the volume, and expanded quickly — into a 2,000-square-foot basement warehouse.

Its ceiling was only six feet high — and one of their employees was 6′ 2″, so he couldn’t stand in the room without tilting his head to the side! Bezos himself would drive the packages to a UPS shipping facility — tapping on the glass when he was let to beg them to let him drop off his shipment. And they’d package the orders together — on their knees on the cement floor. Bezos remembers his first insight at Amazon was we ought to be wearing knee pads. Although he credits another employee for coming up with an even better idea. What they really needed was packing tables…

Looking back on those early days, Bezos remembers those overloaded weeks as one of the luckiest things that ever happened them. Not the spike in orders, but the challenge itself, which they had to learn to accept. “It formed a culture of customer service — in every department, every single person in the company — because we had to work with our hands so close to the customers, making sure that those orders went out.”

“It really set up a culture that’s served us well, and that is our goal to be earth’s most customer-centric company.”


For a shortcut to the video, point your video to
http://tinyurl.com/JeffBezosRemembers

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Amazon Publishes Customer Success Stories as a Free eBook

Free Kindle ebook - Transformations: Stories from Authors, Innovators, and Small Businesses Thriving on Amazon

This is pretty special. People who’ve founded successful digital businesses were all interviewed for a very inspiring new Kindle ebook. It’s published by Amazon, of course — celebrating its role as the home for these self-published authors and small online businesses. But every story comes directly from the words of these way-new entrepreneurs.

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

There’s 79 different stories — the book is over 200 pages long — and each one also features a photograph and inspiring blurb about the story to come. (“For kids in Africa, a new way to learn… Bill and Dinah Vogel can run their thriving business from their son’s hospital room…”) And I especially enjoyed the stories of writers who found new careers by self-publishing their books in the Kindle Store. Ultimately 85,000 people downloaded a new young adult novel that was written by Regina Sirois during its free period. And she was then able to sell another 12,000 copies — and then land a publishing deal with Penguin Group worth another $15,000!

It’s almost more inspiring that these people didn’t become multi-millionaires. They’re just ordinary folk who are paying their rent with the money they’re earning through Amazon. “As one factory worker turned small-business owner said: ‘Take the risks, be passionate, and forget the doubters,'” reads the book’s description at Amazon. And the inspiring stories come from all around the world — from America, the United Kingdom, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain.

I like how the book opens with an introduction by Jeff Bezos — the CEO of Amazon. “We are creating powerful self-service platforms that allow thousands of people to boldly experiment and accomplish things…” Bezos writes, emphasizing that’s a key part of its magic. “When a platform is self-service, evne the improbable ideas can get tried, because tehre’s no expert gatekeeper ready to say, ‘That will never work!'” I get the feeling that Bezos really enjoyed writing the introduction — because Amazon also heard “That will never work” for its first years of existence!

The book’s complete title is Transformations: Stories from Authors, Innovators, and Small Businesses Thriving on Amazon., and it’s already become one of Amazon’s top-1000 best-selling free ebooks for the Kindle. But it’s also become the #1 best-seller in Amazon’s “Business & Money” section in two different categories. In both the Management subsection and “”Business Life,” the book has reached the #1 spot on the list of the best-selling motivational Kindle books. And I had to admit that I smiled when I read that Reginia Sirois was “immensely grateful” to us readers — for taking a chance on a brand new authors that we’d never heard of before.

“I hope I left them with something beautiful,” she says in this ebook, “because they certainly gave me something beautiful…”

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

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More Kindle Stories from The Onion

Now even The Huffington Post is talking about last week’s Kindle parody from The Onion. But it’s just the latest in a flood of great Kindle jokes that The Onion has cranked out over the years. In fact, one of my all-time favorite fake news headlines about the Kindle came from The Onion back in 2010 — a funny announcement about the president of Amazon.

“‘The Kindle Is Easier To Read In Bright Sunlight,’ Amazon CEO Shouts At Customers In Apple Store….”

It was a nod to Amazon’s then-ongoing war with the iPad, but that fake headline got a real rise from Twitter’s assortment of geeks, Apple fans, and Kindle lovers. The headline appeared on The Onion’s Twitter feed, which had millions of followers — and within days, over 100 people had “re-tweeted” the message to their own followers on Twitter. But then I discovered it wasn’t the first time the humor site had joked about the Kindle. When Amazon released the Kindle 2, The Onion was there with a quick list of its new features.

- A lot fewer dangling wires
– …is not just a hollow box with a clear plastic window that you insert books into…”

And earlier that year, at the Consumer Electronics Show, The Onion also joked that for nostalgic users, the Kindle now “signals a logging crew to cut down 10 trees for every book purchased with the device.”

Last week The Onion released a larger two-minute video with footage from a (fake) announcement of a new Kindle — one that repeatedly announces the title of the ebook you’re reading, so everyone around you can see how smart you are. But it’s all got me wondering whether The Onion is really making fun of Amazon’s digital reader — or if they’re secretly fans of the Kindle! For example, their “American Voices” segment once showed the heads of three people, responding to the news that ebook sales were [almost] surpassing sales of printed books. One of them announced that he wasn’t surprised by the popularity of ebooks, because “…if you’re reading a hardcover book, strangers try to start conversations with you. If you’re reading off a Kindle, people just stare at your awesome Kindle.” And the same fake people were also there in March, ready to react to the news that Amazon had temporarily pulled all the books from Macmillan publishing house.

“Publishing house? I thought Stephen Coonts just typed all the books right into Amazon!”

And The Onion even offered opinions about Amazon’s foray into the market for college textbooks. “It does make sense for students to keep all the books they’re not going to read in one device, rather than lugging a big heavy bag around.”

Although right now, I’m wondering if The Onion really is at war with Amazon. Three years ago, you could buy entire ebooks filled with humor from The Onion — like Homeland Insecurity: The Onion Complete News Archives, Volume 17. (“This collection features the entire archive from November 2004 to December 2005…”) In print it came out to a whopping 320 pages, but the ebook edition released in May of 2010 has mysteriously since disappeared from Amazon’s site!

But you can still buy an ebook by written by The Onion’s columnist, Jean Teasdale. It’s called A Book of Jean’s Own!: All New Wit, Wisdom, and Wackiness from The Onion’s Beloved Humor Columnist, and it’s a tongue-in-cheek newspaper column that’s apparently written by a cheerful yet secretly unhappy housewife.

I’ve been enjoying The Onion’s skewed take on the news for over 15 years, but I have to admit that they finally got me. Reading through their fake news stories, I discovered their announcement of a new “U2 Edition” of the Kindle, which ships pre-loaded with all of the favorite books by the rock band U2. For half a second, I wondered if Amazon really had released a special Kindle edition, and I actually spent a few minutes frantically searching for it in Amazon’s Kindle store.

Zing!


And remember, you can also subscribe to The Onion on the Kindle for just $1.99.

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Amazon Discounts 400 Kindle eBooks by up to 85%

Guardians of the Galaxy - Volume 1The Big Four - a Hercule Poirot mystery by Agatha Christie

More Stories from The Twilight Zone by Rod SerlingSlash by Slash

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.

Check out the selection! Point your browser to
tinyURL.com/TheBigEbookDeal

Here’s some of the most exciting ebooks…


Guardians of the Galaxy - Volume 1

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 1 ($3.99)

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.”


More Stories from The Twilight Zone by Rod Serling
More Stories from The Twilight Zone by Rod Serling ($1.99)

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

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

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
tinyURL.com/TheBigEbookDeal

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The Kindle vs. The Onion

The Onion - Amazon announced Kindle Flare

It’s finally happened. Amazon’s Kindle has become the target of a fake video news report from The Onion! “This week Amazon unveiled The Kindle Flare — the latest model of their popular e-reader,” reports a (fake) newscaster from the Onion News Network.

“The improved device has the ability to loudly and repeatedly announce the title of the book you’re reading so everyone knows how smart you are…”

You can watch the whole video on the Onion’s web site. (For a shortcut, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/KindleFlare — or watch the embedded version… )


New Kindle Helps Readers Show Off By Shouting Title Of Book Loudly And Repeatedly

I especially liked how their story begins with a flashy “Tech Trends” logo — making it seem like a real news story. And they’ve even fabricated a supposed commercial which will advertise the new Amazon device.

“The all new kindle flare — louder than a book cover…”

Like most Onion stories, it’s their straight-faced delivery of the “Kindle Flare” story which makes their parody so funny — including all of its realistic little details. (“Custom Dolby Audio Shouting…”) Their report even lists out some of the supposed advantages of the new Amazon Kindle Flare.

  • Speaker audible to everyone within 30 feet
  • Shield mode shouts ‘Faulkner’ when you play Candy Crush
  • 8-week battery life for long-lasting gloating
  • 15 different confident tones of voice
  • Pronounces French books with a French accent

What makes this even more interesting is you really can subscribe to The Onion on your Kindle. Every week they’ll deliver the newest edition straight to your Kindle — whether it’s a reader, a tablet, or even a Kindle app. And the subscription also includes free delivery of the “AV Club” — another Onion publication which explores “the best and worst of film, television, music, books and games.”

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

Interestingly, The Onion has already become Amazon’s #7 best-selling newspaper for the United States. (No joke!) The New York Times is #1, with The Wall Street Journal close behind, and then The Washington Post, USA Today, The Financial Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle. But #7 is “America’s Finest News Source” — The Onion.

As with all satire, there’s a grain of truth in The Onion’s “Kindle Flare” story. The Onion also reports that Apple has released a new version of the iPad — which whispers, over and over again, “I have an iPad.” And The Onion even imagined one more headline for one of Amazon’s competitors.

“Barnes and Noble’s Nook Now Breathlessly Thanks Owners for Buying a Nook…”


The Onion - fake Amazon Kindle Flare ad

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Free Android Apps from Amazon

30 Free Android APps

Over 30 high-quality Android apps are now free at Amazon! It’s to welcome customers to Amazon’s new Fire Phone — but the apps work on any Android device. That means they’re available for Kindle Fire tablets, but also for Android smartphone and tablets (when purchased through the Amazon Appstore).

For a shortcut to the 30 free apps, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/30FreeAmazonApps

“Over $100 in Essential Apps,” reads the banner on the front page of Amazon today — but with an important disclaimer. “Free Thursday and Friday Only.” Fortunately, they’re all on display at Amazon’s web page. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting apps.

Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing
Yes, Sega of America is giving away a free Sonic the Hedgehog game promising “the ultimate party racing showdown.” There’s 16 different race courses to choose from — and 13 different Sega characters — plus lots of other fun ways to play. (“Rev up your skills with 25 missions then outrun the competition in four Grand Prix Cups or take on other racers in dueling Battle Mode!”)

Carcassonne
It’s one of the most popular new board games of the last ten years — and in 2012 they finally created a version for Android devices. The app version was actually named “Mobile Game of the Year” by one gaming site, and it’s actually been one of my favorite board games since 2005. (“Create a landscape by placing tiles with roads, cities, fields, and cloisters…” explains the game’s web page — and now you can even compete against the game’s built-in opponent!)

Instapaper
Send any web page to your Android phone, where it’s waiting for you on this handy app. It works a lot like Amazon’s “Send to Kindle” feature — except now you don’t even have to have a Kindle! It’s already racked up millions of users, according to the app’s web page at Wikipedia. Best of all, it strips away most of the ads and other extraneous “layout” elements from the web pages, so you end up getting the parts that you want — without having to download all the other parts that you don’t!

White Noise
I have a friend who swears by this app. It offers more than 40 sounds (on a perpetual loop) designed to block out noise to help you sleep — or at least, to relax. You can even mix the sounds together to create a new “ambience”, according to the app’s web page, and there’s also a special feature that lets you add an “alarm” effect, where the volume gradually increases to wake-me-up levels at whatever time you choose. The app could even help mask tinnitus, according to its page, along with soothing migraine headaches, and even helping to pacify crying babies — which ends with one more tantalizing promise. “Find out why the world is sleeping better with White Noise!”


Remember, for a shortcut to the 30 free apps, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/30FreeAmazonApps

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Amazon Introduces 3-D Printing

Amazon 3-D printer makes custom personalized bobblehead

It’s like something from a science fiction story: Amazon’s just announced a web page offering real “3-D printing”. I wasn’t even sure what that meant — but it’s a revolutionary new way to buy things that haven’t even been created yet…and a real glimpse into the future.

For a shortcut to Amazon’s 3-D printing store, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/AmazonPrints3D

Here’s a four-sentence summary of the way the process works. We live in a world where technology now makes it possible to print more than just ink on a piece of paper. Technology now can also print out substances, using a computer-controlled machine, following a very precise pattern. The pattern is specified by the user, allowing lots of ways to customize a product before it’s even been built. It’s only when you hit the “print” button that your desired product springs into existence!

But the idea could change our world, transforming the way that everything gets made — and then sold. (“Shop the Future!” reads the slogan on the front page of Amazon’s store.) Amazon’s announcement notes that 3-D printing allows vendors to sell “a potentially infinite number of products” — each one customized by the purchaser — and all at very reasonable prices. Mixee Labs (one of Amazon’s partners) calls this “the app store for the physical world”, since you’re not buying digital products, but things! And you can choose the material for your purchase before it’s even been produced, as well as its color, its size, whatever text or image you want to include…

Print your initials on steel cuff links! Make a dog tag personalized with the name of your own dog! “Customization gives customers the power to remix their world,” explains the co-founder of Mixee Labs, “and we want to change the way people shop online.” But it’s gone from being a theoretical concept to something you can utilize today.

For example, imagine buying a bobblehead that’s been customized so it looks like you! You can choose the bobblehead’s eye color, hair color, and hairstyle, and even add eyeglasses. (Even the spring inside the bobblehead is generated by the printer, and it’s only when the bobblehead is produced.) “Turn yourself, friends, family, and coworkers into bobble heads,” reads the product’s description on Amazon — which suggests it as the ultimate personalized gift.

“The age of 3D printing is just beginning and you can experience it first hand!” reads another Amazon web page. It’s offering an iPhone case with a pattern of plastic that’s described as “rivulets of blood.” Besides red, it’s also available in black, blue, and white… But like any fashion accessory, part of the thrill is the rarity of this accessory. It’s not mass produced; there are only as many in existence as there are customers who ordered them. And you’ll always know that they were built from scratch — automatically! — using a 3-D printer….

Amazon 3-D printed iPhone case

Amazon’s 3-D Print Store offers more than 200 products to choose from. But none of them exist — yet — until you actually click the yellow “Add to Cart” button. Then behind the scenes, Amazon and their partners will go to work assembling your chosen substance, molecule by molecule, into the appropriate pattern. It could change everything — the way all products are created and then sold — and it’s just started happening at Amazon.

For a shortcut to Amazon’s 3-D printing store, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/AmazonPrints3D

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More Free Kindle Comic Books!

Free Kindle Batman Comic BOok

If this were Gotham City, I’d suspect it’s a crime. But there’s no strings attached — Amazon’s giving away a free Kindle edition of a new Batman comic book. It’s to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Batman – and it’s just one of several free Kindle comic books!

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

The comic books are available for any touch-screen Kindle — as well as the Kindle reading apps for your smartphone or other tablet devices. (The offer’s good through August 3rd — so a week from Sunday.) It’s a newly-launched series that begins with a showdown between Commissioner Gordon and a new supervillain. But elsewhere in Amazon’s Kindle Store, there’s already a big selection of more free comic books…

Also available is for free is the very first Batman comic book ever. It’s issue #27 of Detective Comic — first published in 1939! And of course, it’s also the first appearance of Bruce Wayne, and the original Commissioner Gordon.

To see all the free comic books, select “Price: Low to High” at
the bottom of Amazon’s comic page:

tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks

If you’re not interested in Batman, one of the other free comic books is The Powerpuff Girls. Yes, the pre-school superhero characters from the famous Cartoon Network show finally have their own comic book. Issue #1 brings you the new adventures of Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup — and all their friends in the city of Townsville. (“What fiendish secret is Mojo Jojo hiding?” asks the book’s description at Amazon…)

Powerpuff Girls comics

The entire comic book industry celebrates “Free Comic Book Day” in May, and Amazon’s still giving away free Kindle editions of some of the titles. There’s “The New 52: Futures End,” (a free comic book day “Special Edition.”) And if you’re looking for more Batman titles, there’s Legends of the Dark Knight #1 and Flashpoint: Batman – Knight of Vengeance.

I wonder if it will still be free 75 years from now — on Batman’s 150th anniversary?

Remember, to see all the free comic books, select “Price: Low to High” at
the bottom of Amazon’s comic page:

tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks

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