My Interview with a Best-Selling Author!

Kindle blogger Michael Gallagher

He’s written one of the 100 best-selling ebooks for all of 2011 — and he also writes Amazon’s #1 best-selling blog! (In fact, it’s been one of Amazon’s 100 best-selling blogs for over two years…) Michael Gallagher writes the blog “Free Kindle Books Plus a Few Other Tips,” but he’s also adapted it into one of the year’s top 100 ebooks! And as a Christmas gift, he’s agreed to share his story here in a special Christmas interview.

“Actually, I’ll be the first to tell you I didn’t know this version of the book was sitting at #72 for 2011 until I saw your email!” he told me earlier this week. “I am surprised, and my first smart*&% comment was ‘that’s worse than last year!'” Gallagher is regularly updating his 21-page ebook, so this really makes the second year that it’s appeared on Amazon’s list of the year’s best-selling ebooks. “Last year for the full year was #53, and was significantly helped by a few million people opening up Kindles under the tree on Christmas Day! ” he explained. “The week of Christmas in 2010, the sales for that week accounted for 50% of the total year’s sales. Not that I sold a million copies, but it was significant to me.”

His author’s page on Amazon describes him as “an obese, gray-haired, and desk-bound guy in Texas who spends way too much time with his Kindle.” But like the Ghost of Christmas Future, Michael Gallagher now has a prediction for all self-published authors. “If the last two years’ worth of history holds true, not only me but every other author should have a surge in sales from about the 24th of December to the end of the first week of January.” The holiday apparently brings a special gift to anyone who’s self-publishing on Amazon — new sales from enthusiastic new Kindle owners! And Michael agreed to answer a few questions from his unique perspective as one of Amazon’s 100 best-selling authors of the year.

Q: There’s one question I’ve been dying to ask you: how many ebooks did you sell?

A: I won’t share the exact number of copies sold of that title because there are a lot of copycats who picked up on the ranking of last year and have their competing products out there – and it’s certainly not rocket science on what I did – and I certainly don’t need other competitors but I will tell you this: the number of sales so far through the end of November of that one title equals all of 2010.

Q: eBook sales really seem to be increasing. It seemed really significant to me that this year the #1 and #2 best-selling ebooks of the year weren’t even available in print editions. Since you’re one of the year’s 100 best-selling ebook authors, I wanted to ask: do you have any official pronouncement on what lesson we should learn from this year’s best-sellers list?

Q: As far as an “official pronouncement”… the Kindle publishing platform for independent authors truly levels the playing field. Good books will rise to the top as word-of-mouth, the Amazon customer review/rating system, Kindle Discussion forum and blog posts, and good old-fashioned guerrilla marketing on Facebook, Twitter, etc. can equal and in some cases more than offset what the Big Six publishers can do. Of course, the Big Six are still there and will continue to be there, but small guys who have a good story to tell – yet may get shunned from the large publishers because they already have a stable of successful authors – can make it.

Q: You don’t just have the #1 best-selling blog for the Kindle. You’ve got five of the top 100 best-sellers, including Trivia of the Day, Bible Verse of the Day, and Kindle Books for a Buck (or Less). What’s it been like, publishing multiple best-selling blogs on Amazon?

A: Overall, the blog experience has been fun — I’ve “met” a lot of interesting people and characters, picked up more free books than most people can read in a lifetime, and learned more than enough about the Kindle than you can imagine. However, there is a certain level of disappointment as there is a real lack of support for blog publishers from Amazon. Granted, most of the blogs aren’t generating money for themselves or Amazon, but I think a lot of that has to do with no promotion from the Amazon side. I have seen membership for most of my blogs decrease for the last two months, when they had done nothing but increase each month for the previous 18 months. With the launch of the Kindle Fire and blogs not having a subscribe option, although you can certainly subscribe via the Pulse app on the Fire, I wouldn’t be surprised if this time next year Amazon drops the blog component – that would be a loss of some serious money for people in the Top 20 or so blogs.

Q: Well, whatever happens, when they write the history of the Kindle, they’re going to have to mention Michael Gallagher, the Kindle’s #1 best-selling blogger. Thanks for paying me a visit – and happy holidays!

Who is the Most Highlighted Author of All Time?

Suzanne Collins

Do people highlight passages on their Kindle? According to Amazon, the most-frequently highlighted passage of all time has been highlighted just 4,743 times. It’s this sentence from Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”


In fact, the same novel also contains the fourth most-highlighted passage (highlighted by 3,965 Kindle owners).

“Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”


Amazon’s made a complete list available showing hundreds and hundreds of the most-highlighted passages of all time. But it turns out that Jane Austen isn’t the most-highlighted author in the top 10. That distinction belongs to Suzanne Collins — the contemporary novelist who recently became only the sixth author to sell million e-books in Amazon’s Kindle store. Three of 10 most-highlighted passages all come from her “Hunger Games” trilogy, with two from its final book — including the second- and third-most highlighted passages of all time!


“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”


     — from Mockingjay
        (Highlighted by 4,390 Kindle users)

“Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.”

     — from Catching Fire
        (Highlighted by 4,001 Kindle users)

“We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.”

     — from Mockingjay
        (Highlighted by 3,206 Kindle users)


Collins also has three more passages in the top 50, and another 7 in the top 100, for a grand total of 13 different passages which all made it into the top 100. And Amazon has also created a second list of the passages which were most-highlighted in the recent past — where Collins holds six of the top 10 spots!

what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that. So after, when he whispers, “You love me. Real or not real?” I tell him, “Real.”

     — from Mockingjay

“District Twelve. Where you can starve to death in safety.”

     — from The Hunger Games

“The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.

     — from The Hunger Games


It’s fun reading the highlights, getting quick glimpses of new books I might want to read, and discovering which surprising sentences other Kindle owners picked out as their most-favorite sentences. Reading all the highlights can give a tiny peek into what the actual books are like. And I have to admit, after reading those highlighted passages from Suzanne Collins’ books, it made me curious to read the whole thing! But it’s also made me want to spend more time visiting kindle.amazon.com — just so I can see more highlighted passages.

Amazon’s also identified which books are the most-highlighted of all time — and it’s an entirely different set of books. Four of the top 10 are different versions of the bible, and one holds the #1 spot on the list. In fact, surprisingly, there’s just one work of fiction in the top 10 — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The other five books are self-help titles, including two by science writer Timothy Ferris. The second most-highlighted book is “The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman,” and the fifth most-highlighted book is “The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content.”

So now I have a dilemma. Should I read about rapid fat-loss — or The Hunger Games?

Amazon releases a new Kindle commercial – and more!

Girl in Amazon Kindle vs printed book ad

I always get excited when Amazon releases a new commercial for the Kindle. And this time it’s just one of several interesting new videos that Amazon is making available online!

Their new Kindle ad probably belongs in a time capsule, because it seems to capture the exact moment when the way we read starts to change. In a breezy conversation, a young blonde woman complains that “I only read real books” to a young man holding a Kindle, which starts a conversation about how the printed book doesn’t have any advantages over a Kindle.


“Oh, I’m reading a real book.”

“I can read my book in the sun, where there’s a lot of glare.”

“Well, so can I. See? The screen looks just like a paper book, so it’s great for reading in bright sunlight.”

“But you can’t fold down the page when you want to save your place.”

“My Kindle does that for me.”

“But you don’t get the rewarding feeling of actually folding down the page. [She dramatically reaches her arm forward to bend down the page’s corner, and smiles a forced smile] Ahh…


Then there’s an awkward pause where the two exchange significant glances, and then woman asks to borrow the man’s Kindle.


“Wow. The screen looks amazing.”

“Yeah…”

It’s the first ad where Amazon has touted the new lower prices of the ad-supported devices at the end of the commercial. (“The all new Kindle,” reads the ad’s closing shot.”From $114.”) The commercial will be broadcast for the first time on TV tonight, but this morning Amazon slipped a “sneak preview” link onto the Kindle’s official page on Facebook (at Facebook.com/Kindle). Within a few hours, over 1,600 people had clicked the Facebook icon indicated they liked the new ad. (Although one woman in England seemed to be grateful that it was different than an earlier Kindle ad, posting “As long as it hasn’t got a dog licking a kindle…”)

You can watch the new ad at YouTube.com/Kindle – but it turns out it’s not the only new video that Amazon is making available. In a press release this morning, Amazon announced they’d created a new web page called The Backstory. (“Find author interviews,” its tagline promises, “and essays, guest reviews, recipes and much, much more.”) And to give the new page a big launch, Amazon is featuring five video interviews with authors, including celebrity chef Tom Douglas and Gossip Girl producer John Stephens (as well as authors Joshua Foer, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.) They’re calling the series Author Interviews @ Amazon, and there’s many more authors to come. “New author interviews will be announced via the Amazon.com Books Facebook page,” the company explained in a press release this morning, “and on Omnivoracious.com, the Amazon.com Books blog.”

Remember, you can subscribe to the Omnivoracious blog on your Kindle for free! And to make it easier, I’ve created a special URL — just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/Omnivoracious.

Amazon will even let you post questions for the authors on the Facebook page, or e-mail your questions to authorinterviews@amazon.com. (The final interviews will also be available on the book’s “detail” page at Amazon.com.) “We’re extremely lucky to have fascinating and talented authors gracing our hallways here at Amazon and taking time to chat with us,” Amazon’s Managing Editor of books said this morning.

“We love these conversations so much that we wanted to share them with our customers.”

New Kindle ad –             youtube.com/Kindle
Omnivoracious Blog –  tinyurl.com/Omnivoracious
Author Interviews –     amazon.com/thebackstory

One million ebooks! Congratulations, Nora Roberts

Best-selling romance ebook author Nora Roberts

Amazon just announced that author Nora Roberts has sold her one millionth ebook from Amazon’s Kindle store. “As of yesterday, Nora Roberts has sold 1,170,539 Kindle books…” Amazon wrote in their press release. But I’d already seen the signs. Last week Amazon had revealed the best-selling ebooks of 2010 — and four of them were written by Nora Roberts! “Nora Roberts has been a bestseller at Amazon for 15 years,” Amazon’s vice president of Kindle Content announced, “so this accomplishment is no surprise.”

The New Yorker calls her “America’s favorite novelist,” according to Amazon’s press release, and she’ll now join what Amazon calls the “Kindle Million Club.” She’s only the third author to ever sell this many ebooks from the Kindle store, since it was only July when Amazon announced that their Kindle store had its first million-selling author. (Ironically, the author was already dead, since the late Stieg Larsson’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy had unexpectedly turned into three posthumous best-sellers). And it wasn’t until October that a second author achieved the same success — James Patterson — though that was probably inevitable. Wikipedia noted that he’d written 56 different books which were all best-sellers (which got him listed in the Guinness Book of World Records).

At the time I wondered if Patterson reached his million-book milestone simply by selling 20,000 copies of 50 different books — and now I’m wondering if Roberts had a similar advantage. To get to the one-million figure, Amazon included books which Roberts wrote under her pseudonym, J.D. Robb — which include a sprawling, 40-book series in which every title ends with the words “in Death.” (Naked in Death, Glory in Death…) In fact, Roberts has written more than 200 novels, according to Amazon’s press release. Even if she sold just 5,000 copies of each one, she’d still be able to pass the one-million sales milestone.

I’d also wondered if they included any free ebook downloads in their figures, but Amazon insists they’re only counting copies which were actually purchased. So this announcement may be just what it seems: still more proof of the tremendous popularity of ebooks. In November Amazon said that ebooks always outsell the printed books for the top 1,000 best-selling titles on the site. And earlier this month, USA Today announced that ebooks were also outselling the print editions for 19 of the top 50 books on their own best-seller list. (“It’s the first time the top-50 list has had more than two titles in which the e-version outsold print,” they reported last week.)

Of course, Roberts had already sold more than 280 million print editions of her books already, according to Wikipedia, spending a combined total of more than 660 weeks on the New York Times best-seller lists. And Roberts’ ebooks may have gotten a special boost from the Kindle, according to another new article in USA Today. They reported that romance novels accounted for 12% of all the best-selling books of 2010, theorizing that “Readers who wouldn’t be caught dead with risque covers in public enjoyed the privacy of reading romantic e-books!”

And what were Nora Roberts most popular ebooks of 2010?

The Search (her most popular ebook of the year)
Savor the Moment
Fantasy in Death (as J.D. Robb)
Happy Ever After

Are Writers Being Hurt By Technology?

Digital Publishing vs. the Gutenberg press

I remember a fascinating article. Three years ago, a legendary magazine editor tracked down 10 professional authors, and asked them a simple question: “Is the net good for writers?”

“Over a billion people can deliver their text to a very broad public,” he wrote at the time — but how does it affect those people who actually sell their writing for a living? “Writing as a special talent became obsolete in the 19th century,” one writer had told him in 2002. “The bottleneck was publishing…”

With the popularity of the Kindle, it’s an even better question, since writers are not just competing with the internet, but with the self-published ebooks of amateurs. Author Erik Davis (also a writer for Wired, Bookforum, and The Village Voice) had remembered that in the mid-90s, “I got paid pretty good for a youngster — generally much better than I get paid now, when my career sometimes looks more and more like a hobby…” But he also noted that his career is “less driven by external measures of what a ‘successful’ writing career looks like,” and he’d enjoyed spending his time writing about off-beat topics like mystical and counter-cultural threads in both technology and the media.

But he also thinks technology is changing the kinds of things we end up reading, creating a bigger demand for smaller articles — and a much bigger market for “opinion”. And author Mark Dery, author of Cyberculture at the End of the Century, also seemed to agree about the shorter article sizes, complaining that today, “information overload and time famine encourage a sort of flat, depthless style, indebted to online blurblets, that’s spreading like kudzu across the landscape of American prose.” Yes, things are more democratic now, Dery believes, but that’s brought good changes as well as bad.

“Skimming reader comments on Amazon, I never cease to be amazed by the arcane expertise lurking in the crowd; somebody, somewhere, knows everything about something, no matter how mind-twistingly obscure. But this sea change — and it’s an extraordinary one — is counterbalanced by the unhappy fact that off-the-shelf blogware and the comment thread make everyone a critic or, more accurately, make everyone think they’re a critic, to a minus effect.

We’re drowning in yak, and it’s getting harder and harder to hear the insightful voices through all the media cacophony. Oscar Wilde would be just another forlorn blogger out on the media asteroid belt in our day, constantly checking his SiteMeter’s Average Hits Per Day and Average Visit Length.”

Dery’s ultimate conclusion? In these complicated and chaotic times, “the future of writing and reading is deeply uncertain.” And some of his thoughts were echoed by Adam Parfrey, the publisher at Feral House books (and the author of Apocalypse Culture). “I like the internet and computers for their ability to make writers of nearly everyone,” Parfrey writes. “I don’t like the internet and computers for their ability to make sloppy and thoughtless writers of nearly everyone.”

But at the end of the day, Parfrey seems to reach a more positive view. “Overall, it’s an exciting world,” he writes. “I’m glad to be alive at this time.”

If I could, I’d print out the article and send it in a time capsule to the year 2110 — since each author had an interesting but subtly different perspective. Douglas Rushkoff wrote that “The book industry isn’t what it used to be, but I don’t blame that on the internet. It’s really the fault of media conglomeration. Authors are no longer respected in the same way, books are treated more like magazines with firm expiration dates, and writers who simply write really well don’t get deals as quickly as disgraced celebrities or get-rich-quick gurus…”

And John Shirley, author of The Eclipse Trilogy, noted that in today’s book publishing industry, “Editors are no longer permitted to make decisions on their own. They must consult marketing departments before buying a book. Book production has become ever more like television production: subordinate to trendiness, and the anxiety of executives.”

But Shirley also added that “in my opinion this is partly because a generation intellectually concussed by the impact of the internet and other hyperactive, attention-deficit media, is assumed, probably rightly, to want superficial reading.” And he wasn’t the only author who had unkind thoughts for technology itself. Michael Simmons, a former editor for The National Lampoon, wrote “We’re a planet of marks getting our bank accounts skimmed by Bill Gates and Steven Jobs… Furthermore, I get nauseous thinking of the days, weeks, months I’ve spent on the phone with tech support.”

It’s one of the meatiest articles I’ve ever read about writing, publishing, and the state of the modern author. But having said that, I still thought that Edward Champion had perhaps the ultimate comeback.

“If the internet was committing some kind of cultural genocide for any piece of writing that was over twenty pages, why then has the number of books published increased over the past fifteen years?”

Good Men in a Bad World

I think this is poignant. Someone came to Google and typed in…

Everyman is a good man in a bad world

Were they looking for solace? Someone to understand? Whoever they were, they found their words echoed back, in the first line of a long-ago novel written by William Saroyan.


Every man is a good man in a bad world… Every man himself changes from good to bad or from bad to good, back and forth, all his life, and then dies. But no matter how or why or when a man changes, he remains a good man in a bad world, as he himself knows…

That’s from the 1952 novel Rock Wagram, and I’d blogged about Saroyan as “The Novelist You Can’t Read on Your Kindle.” I just worry that he’ll be one of those authors who won’t transition into the next generation of media. In our shiny future, we’ll have expensive “readers” with fancy new features – but with a couple of last-century authors who somehow just didn’t make the cut.

Which makes its feel that much more poignant that here on my blog, at least, I was able to match up this long-ago author with one more anonymous reader from the 21st century.

One more anonymous good man who’s lost in a bad world…

The Day the Kindle Died

I’d been reading a free Charles Dickens novel — Hard Times — and realized I was more interested in learning some details about Charles Dickens’ life. Charles Dickens died in 1870. My Kindle died on April 18, 2010…

I’d pressed the search button on my Kindle, and then used my favorite shortcut — typing @wiki to begin a search on Wikipedia. And soon I was reading another page of trivia about Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop straight from Wikipedia.


Dickens fans were reported to storm the piers of New York City, shouting to arriving sailors (who may have read the last installment in Britain), “Is Little Nell alive?”

In 2007, many newspapers claimed the excitement at the release of the last volume The Old Curiosity Shop was the only historical comparison that could be made to the excitement at the release of the last Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I hit the back button, but my wireless connection had blipped out. The Kindle wasn’t even able to reload the page about Charles Dickens (which I’d already been reading). Frustrated, I pressed the Back key, and the Home key, but nothing happened. I even tried pressing Alt-P — to at least see if I could make it play music!

“She’s not answering my helm,” I told my girlfriend — doing my best impersonation of either Captain Kirk or an old British sailing captain. I turned my Kindle off, but even that didn’t affect its screen. It continued displaying the blank beginning of the Wikipedia page which it hadn’t been able to download.

My beloved Kindle…was dead.

Come back tomorrow to find out what happened next!

(Oh boy. My first blog post with a cliff-hanger ending…)

More on The Author You Can’t Read on your Kindle

By the way, there’s a fascinating bit of trivia about the “Author You Can’t Read on Your Kindle.”

An author you won't see on your Kindle screensaver

William Saroyan was a first-generation Armenian-American, who have a custom of “inviting over relatives and friends, and providing them with a generously overflowing table of fruits, nuts, seeds, and other foods” (according to Wikipedia). There’s even a scene in a movie that Saroyan later helped to write — “The Human Comedy” — in which an Armenian woman offers the same courtesy to young Mickey Rooney when he comes to her house to deliver a telegram. I think she even says, “I give-a you candy.”

If you recognize that line, it’s because it’s also used in a famous song by Rosemary Clooney — which was based on the same Armenian-American custom.

Come on-a my house, my house
I’m gonna give you…candy.
Come on-a my house, my house
I’m gonna give you everything.

Coincidence? Hardly. William Saroyan co-wrote the lyrics in 1939 (though it didn’t become a hit until Rosemary Clooney recorded it nearly 12 years later in 1951.) And his co-author on the song was his cousin, a man named Ross Bagdadsarian, who 19 years later…created Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Interestingly, 1939 was the year that William Saroyan declined a Pulitzer Prize. That same year, he and his cousin were writing these lyrics.

Come on-a my house, my house a come on
Come on-a my house, my house a come on
Come on-a my house, my house I’m gonna give a you
Peach and pear and I love your hair ah
Come on-a my house, my house a come on
Come on-a my house, my house a come on
Come on-a my house, my house, I’m gonna give you Easta-egg

One Author You Can’t Read on your Kindle

An author you won't see on your Kindle screensaver

Ever read an old novel, and realize how different its style is?

Maybe it’s a romantic novel from the 1800s, or a rambling post-modern narrative from Ernest Hemingway. But around the 1940s, you get what I think of as “The Great American Novelists”. That is, people who were consciously setting out to write glorious, high-stakes pageants about life itself.

I was a big fan of Thomas Wolfe, and finally got around to watching a breathtaking production of a Thornton Wilder play. But this all brings me back to the man I now think of as “the lost novelist”.

Because you can’t buy his books for the Kindle.

William Saroyan grew up in Central California, and later depicted all the joys and dramas of small-town life in “The Human Comedy,” a devastating, bittersweet look at one family during World War II. He was always creating rich settings for touching stories about simple people facing an extraordinary crisis. The jacket of one book calls him “one of the permanently significant names in modern American fiction.”

Today I went to a public library about three hours from where Saroyan grew up, and I pulled one of his books off the shelf. It was published in 1951, and I’d never heard of it. (It’s called Rock Wagram – the story of a Fresno bartender who later in life struggles with the unexpected pitfalls of success.) As I held the book in my hand, I thought: this is something you can’t do on a Kindle.

You can’t read this.

Every man is a good man in a bad world. No man changes the world. Every man himself changes from good to bad or from bad to good, back and forth, all his life, and then dies. But no matter how or why or when a man changes, he remains a good man in a bad world, as he himself knows. All his life a man fights death, and then at last loses the fight, always having known he would. Loneliness is every man’s portion, and failure. The man who seeks to escape from loneliness is a lunatic. The man who does not laugh at these things is a bore. But the lunatic is a good man, and so is the fool, and so is the bore, as each of them knows. Every man is innocent, and in the end a lonely lunatic, a lonely fool, or a lonely bore.

But there is meaning to a man. There is meaning to the life every man lives.

Saroyan goes on to say it’s “a secret meaning.”

And then the novel begins…

Hacking the Kindle Author Images

Yes, I’m looking up more ways to hack the Kindle’s screensaver images. And yes, I want to replace them with my own favorite authors. But as January 1 rolls away, it reminds me that this isn’t the first time I’ve done this. In fact, I hacked another set of author images 10 years ago — before the Kindle was even invented.

And I think the two experiences sprang from the exact same impulse…

Everyone has their own personal favorite authors. But when you’re selling a device — whether it’s a Kindle or a calendar — you just have to guess. The Kindle guessed Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austin, and Emily Dickinson (among others). And in 2000 I’d bought a “Great Names In Literature” calendar that had made — pretty much the same choices.

But they’d left out my favorite authors. (Where was William Faulkner? And how about Norman Mailer? Man, that guy was a hoot…) I also wished they’d included Jack Kerouac on my calendar. And then, I did something about it.

I went to the public library and photocopied giant pictures of my favorite authors — including Faulkner, Kerouac, and Mailer. And then I pasted them directly into my calendar — over pictures of my own least-favorite authors. (Don’t ask who!) I take my calendar far too seriously — I believe it’s a January ritual consecrating hopes for the year to come — or something like that. So I was hoping I’d end up writing my own book that year — and I wanted the right authors looking down from my calendar!

I could always do that to the Kindle’s screensaver images, but I won’t — because I really like the Kindle’s screensaver images. But I still might add a couple of my personal favorites into the mix as well.

A Kindle Screensaver Miracle

What a nice moment. I’ve been reading Around the World in 80 Days — Jules Verne’s original novel. In the next chapter Phileas Fogg launches his trip, so I pick up my Kindle, but its screen-saver’s on.

And it’s showing me Jules Verne!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. One of Verne’s other books is #46 on the Kindle best-seller list. (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – written in 1870.) It’s been in the top 100 for 268 days.

But I’m guessing that’s not the reason Amazon included his picture as a Kindle screensaver. Jules Verne is one of those authors who symbolizes the reach of literature (since he famously wrote about submarines and space travel before either of those things was actually invented!) I’m guessing Amazon chose his image as a Kindle screensaver before they’d realized just how popular Verne would be for their digital editions.

But also, Jules Verne just looks like a novelist. (Wild French hair brushed back like he’s facing a gale — plus an old-timey bow tie and a classy 19th-century suit.)

But it got me thinking about just how exactly does Amazon pick the authors for their screensavers. So far I’ve also seen Emily Dickinson. I felt kind of sad. I remembered that she’d lived a lonely life — never left the village where she lived, and often never even leaving her house. (And I was surprised they’d used a picture of young Emily Dickinson. Or maybe she just looked young…)

And, yeah, when Oscar Wilde came up, I just assumed that my Kindle was haunted…

Sometimes it’s not an author — sometimes it’s just a cool image And sometimes, it’s a tip – which are actually pretty useful. (I didn’t know I could type my way to selections on the home page if I sorted the books by title…) 

And yes, there is a way to change your Kindle screensaver