Amazon’s Free Christmas Game for the Kindle

Amazon Kindle game Picture Perfect Holiday Puzzles menu screenshot

Here’s a special free holiday treat from Amazon. If you own a black-and-white Kindle, Amazon’s already released 18 different free games. And for Christmas a couple years ago, they also released one that was specifically designed for the holiday season…

“We were going to wait to start talking about the holidays, but this new free game for Kindle is getting us in the spirit a little early,” read one announcement on the Kindle’s page on Facebook!

“Check it out for yourself, but don’t blame us if you suddenly get the urge to start stringing lights and singing carols!” That new game was “Picture Perfect Holiday Puzzles,” and within four hours of the announcement, it had already earned 208 “Like” votes on Facebook and drawn 35 enthusiastic comments. (Like the woman in Minnesota who posted “OMG! OMG! OMG! This is my all time FAVORITE Kindle game, I’ve been waiting for a Part 2 forever!! YESSSS!!!!!!!”)

It was a “sequel” to a free game Amazon released called simply “Picture Perfect Puzzles”. In both those games, users try to form a picture by darkening all the correct squares in a grid, making logical deductions from clues showing the number of squares that need darkening in each row and column. But for the second “holiday” version, Amazon created 35 more puzzles, each one with a fun holiday theme. (The puzzles were grouped into six categories: Winter Begins, Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Continues, Kwanzaa, and New Years.)

Picture Perfect Puzzle - Snowflake

I’ve played this game, and it’s a lot of fun. It can be “challenging” — you have to do some logical thinking in your brain. But that just makes it totally engrossing, like a good game of Sudoku.

And best of all, it’s free…

Happy holidays!

Fun, Free Kindle Christmas Games!

Amazon Kindle game Picture Perfect Holiday Puzzles menu screenshot

Merry Christmas! And here’s a special holiday treat. Amazon has now released 18 different free games for their black-and-white e-ink Kindles. And for Christmas a couple years ago, they released two more that were specifically for the holiday season!

“We were going to wait to start talking about the holidays, but this new free game for Kindle is getting us in the spirit a little early,” read one announcement on the Kindle’s page on Facebook. “Check it out for yourself, but don’t blame us if you suddenly get the urge to start stringing lights and singing carols!” That new game was “Picture Perfect Holiday Puzzles,” and within four hours of the announcement, it had already earned 208 “Like” votes on Facebook and drawn 35 enthusiastic comments. (Like the woman in Minnesota who posted “OMG! OMG! OMG! This is my all time FAVORITE Kindle game, I’ve been waiting for a Part 2 forever!! YESSSS!!!!!!!”) It was a “sequel” to a free game Amazon released called simply “Picture Perfect Puzzles”. In both those games, users try to form a picture by darkening all the correct squares in a grid, making logical deductions from clues showing the number of squares that need darkening in each row and column. But for the second “holiday” version, Amazon created 35 more puzzles, each one with a fun holiday theme. (The puzzles were grouped into six categories: Winter Begins, Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Continues, Kwanzaa, and New Years.)

And did you want to write a letter to Santa Claus this year? Just remember that there’s a free app for that — at least, if you own a Kindle Fire tablet (or an iPad). Two years ago Amazon proudly announced a free Santa app to create holidays wish lists, “for children and their parents…to share with friends, family and Mr. Claus.” They’ve identified more than half a million popular “kid-friendly” items available on Amazon, and according to the director of Amazon Mobile, the apps makes it “fun, easy and intuitive for kids to find exactly what they want.” Just point your browser to amazon.com/santa_app

There’s books, of course, but also toys, games, video games, music, and even movies and TV shows — and you can browse the individual categories or search for specific items. By secretly tracking which gifts have been purchased, it can help different relatives avoid buying the same gift, and Amazon says the app offers “a great way for parents to spend some quality time with their kids…”

And, “to help make certain there’s a smile Christmas morning.”

Fun Free Kindle eBooks for Christmas!

A Christmas Carol original book cover illustration

Every Christmas, I really enjoy reading some fun and special Christmas ebooks on my Kindle each year. Amazon’s Kindle Store is full of surprises every year, and it’s really delightful when you discover a new ebook about Christmas. (Especially when it’s by an author that you already know!) It turns out that some of the greatest authors in history have written Christmas stories — and they’re all available for free in Amazon’s Kindle store!

A Christmas Carol by Charlies Dickens
It’s not just a story about Christmas. It’s partly responsible for the way that way celebrate it. The story by 31-year-old Charles Dickens “was one of the single greatest influences in rejuvenating the old Christmas traditions of England,” according to Wikipedia, which notes it was published just as new customs were established like tree-decorating and Christmas cards. The book helped to popularize these traditions, though ironically, the story was immediately pirated after Dickens published it, and he realized almost no profits from the story himself!
I’ve enjoyed the way Charles Dickens writes, with simple yet very moving stories — and I’m not the only one. On Amazon’s list of the best-selling free ebooks, A Christmas Carol is currently #11. And interestingly, it turns out that Charles Dickens followed this up with even more Christmas stories — including The Cricket on the Hearth, The Chimes, and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.

All there stories are available for free in Amazon’s Kindle store.

Old Christmas by Washington Irving
He was America’s first internationally popular author, and he wrote two timeless stories — Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. But he also fathered many of our Christmas traditions. At the age of 29, when he was starting his career in 1812, Irving added five nostalgic Christmas stories to a collection of writing, and for one dream sequence, imagined what would happen if St. Nicholas flew over the forests in a flying sleigh. That’s believed to have inspired many of the subsequent stories about Santa Claus and his flying reindeer!
And the stories had an even greater impact. Irving also researched holiday traditions as far back as 1652, and according to Wikipedia, and his popular stories “contributed to the revival and reinterpretation of the Christmas holiday in the United States.” Even Charles Dickens himself said that Irving’s stories influenced his own famous novella, A Christmas Carol.

A Visit From Saint Nicholas by Clement Clark Moore
Here’s something fun to download: the original text of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” (One historian called it “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American,” according to Wikipedia.) But you can only find the free ebook if you search on its original title — “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”. If you search for its first line — “Twas the Night Before Christmas” — Amazon’s Kindle Store will only show paid versions

There’s some interesting trivia about this story. In its first printing in 1823, Santa’s reindeer were named “Dunder” and “Blixem,” which are the Dutch words for “thunder” and “lightning.” But over the years their names changed into the more familiar-sounding “Donner” and “Blitzen”!

Christmas Eve by Robert Browning
He’s one of the most famous poets of the 19th century — and he in 1850 wrote a stark but thoughtful poem about visiting St. Peter’s church in Rome. It ultimately turns into a discussion about the nature of faith, but it was the first poem he published after his marriage, according to Wikipedia, and gives rare hints about the famous poet’s own religious views. One reviewer on Amazon described it as “A strange flighty trek in and out of trances and chapels to see rainbows and versions of God.” But another reader complained that they’d found it difficult to even read the poem, because the ebook wasn’t formatted properly.
“Who in their right mind eliminates line breaks and thinks they can get away with it?”

Favorite Free Christmas Stories

A Christmas Carol original book cover illustration

If you’re looking for something Christmas-y to read, here’s four of my most favorite holiday stories. (Maybe reading on the Kindle can become a new Christmas tradition!) These stories are all available as a free Kindle ebooks, and at least one of them has been around for almost 200 years! Lots of people enjoy curling up someplace cozy, and taking a quiet reading break over the holidays. And this year, more and more of them will doing it with the Kindle!

Old Christmas by Washington Irving

He was America’s first internationally popular author, and he wrote two timeless stories — Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. But he also fathered many of our Christmas traditions. At the age of 29, when he was starting his career in 1812, Irving added five nostalgic Christmas stories to a collection of writing, and for one dream sequence, imagined what would happen if St. Nicholas flew over the forests in a flying sleigh. That’s believed to have inspired many of the subsequent stories about Santa Claus and his flying reindeer!

And the stories had an even greater impact. Irving also researched holiday traditions as far back as 1652, according to Wikipedia, and his popular stories “contributed to the revival and reinterpretation of the Christmas holiday in the United States.” Even Charles Dickens himself said that Irving’s stories influenced his own famous novella, A Christmas Carol.


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

It’s not just a story about Christmas. It’s partly responsible for the way that way celebrate it. The story by 31-year-old Charles Dickens “was one of the single greatest influences in rejuvenating the old Christmas traditions of England,” according to Wikipedia, which notes it was published just as new customs were established like tree-decorating and Christmas cards. The book helped to popularize these traditions, though ironically, the story was immediately pirated after Dickens published it, and he realized almost no profits from the story himself!

I’ve always enjoyed the way Charles Dickens writes, with simple yet very moving stories — and I’m not the only one. Every year on Amazon’s list of the best-selling free ebooks, A Christmas Carol always crashes into the top 20. And interestingly, it turns out that Charles Dickens followed this up with even more Christmas stories — including The Cricket on the Hearth, The Chimes, and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.

And all three of these stories are also available for free in Amazon’s Kindle store…


A Visit From Saint Nicholas by Clement Clark Moore

Here’s something fun to download: the original text of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” (One historian called it “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American,” according to Wikipedia.) And there’s some interesting trivia about this story. In its first printing in 1823, Santa’s reindeer were named “Dunder” and “Blixem,” which are the Dutch words for “thunder” and “lightning” — but over the years their names changed into the more familiar-sounding “Donner” and “Blitzen”!


Merry Christmas, Mr. Mark by Nelson Algren

There’s one short Christmas story that I absolutely love — by one of my favorite authors. Ernest Hemingway called Nelson Algren “one of the two best authors in America” — and his greatest novel, The Man With the Golden Arm, offered an unforgettable look at Chicago and its lowlifes. (In 1950, it won a National Book Award). But my personal favorite Algren book was always The Last Carousel, another dazzling collection of short works from throughout his career, which he’d published in 1973.

At the age of 64, the author had hand-picked each story himself – though unfortunately The Last Carousel isn’t available on the Kindle. But one lucky December, I discovered that you can still read one of its most touching stories online. On December 4, 1949, the Chicago Sunday Tribune published “Merry Christmas, Mr. Mark,” a story Algren wrote at the height of career, at the same time as his award-winning novel. The 40-year-old novelist remembered being a young newsboy in the 1920s, braving the snows to sell The Saturday Evening Blade at an intersection by the cemetery — and how the newsboys had tried to swindle their customers!

But by the end, they’d all learned a valuable lesson about Christmas…!

My Favorite Free Christmas Stories

A Christmas Carol original book cover illustration

Amazon’s having a special sale on Kindle ebooks for Christmas Day. For December 25th only, they’re selling The Polar Express and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at a big discount (as well as five romance novels, plus The Lightning Thief, and even Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter) To see the sale, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/ChristmasDayEbooks.

But there’s also a lot of really wonderful free Christmas stories that are available all year long…

There’s one short Christmas story that I absolutely love — by one of my favorite authors. Ernest Hemingway called him “one of the two best authors in America” — and yet his greatest novel isn’t available on the Kindle. Nelson Algren wrote The Man With the Golden Arm, an unforgettable look at Chicago and its lowlifes, in 1950, and it won a National Book Award. But my personal favorite Algren book was always The Last Carousel, another dazzling collection of short works from throughout his career,which he’d published in 1973.

At the age of 64, the author had hand-picked each story himself – though unfortunately The Last Carousel also isn’t available on the Kindle. But one December I discovered that you can still read one of its most touching stories online. On December 4, 1949, the Chicago Sunday Tribune published “Merry Christmas, Mr. Mark,” a story Algren wrote at the height of career, at the same time as his award-winning novel. The 40-year-old novelist remembered being a young newsboy in the 1920s, braving the snows to sell The Saturday Evening Blade at an intersection by the cemetery — and how they’d tried to swindle their customers!

But by the end, they’ve learned a valuable lesson about Christmas.

Old Christmas by Washington Irving
He was America’s first internationally popular author, and he wrote two timeless stories — Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. But he also fathered many of our Christmas traditions. At the age of 29, when he was starting his career in 1812, Irving added five nostalgic Christmas stories to a collection of writing, and for one dream sequence, imagined what would happen if St. Nicholas flew over the forests in a flying sleigh. That’s believed to have inspired many of the subsequent stories about Santa Claus and his flying reindeer!

And the stories had an even greater impact. Irving also researched holiday traditions as far back as 1652, and according to Wikipedia, and his popular stories “contributed to the revival and reinterpretation of the Christmas holiday in the United States.” Even Charles Dickens himself said that Irving’s stories influenced his own famous novella, A Christmas Carol.

Two Years Before the Mast (Christmas chapter) by Richard Henry Dana
When I lived near San Francisco, it was especially fun to read what was essentially a blog post about Christmas in the city…written in 1836! Back then, the only people in San Francisco were the handful of hard-working sailors who ferried animal hides around the continent. And their life was still hard, even on Christmas Day!

Friday, December 25th. This day was Christmas; and as it rained all day long, and there were no hides to take in, and nothing especial to do, the captain gave us a holiday, (the first we had had since leaving Boston,) and plum duff for dinner. The Russian brig, following the Old Style, had celebrated their Christmas eleven days before; when they had a grand blow-out and (as our men said) drank, in the forecastle, a barrel of gin, ate up a bag of tallow, and made a soup of the skin…

This was 13 years before California became a state, and it was a special experience to read this book more than 175 years later. It’s one of the first moments where I’ve felt such an intimate connection to someone who lived nearly two centuries ago. While young Richard Henry Dana was traveling in what was then a foreign land, he seems lonely but intrigued, which gave him a special willingness to share his sincere human reactions with a touching humility.

I love how the Kindle can connect you to different people in different places, and even from different times. And maybe that feeling is even more special on Christmas Day, because it reminds you of the grand traditions that have been handed down for centuries, and the universal feelings behind it.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Amazon’s Fun Free Kindle Christmas Games

Amazon Kindle game Picture Perfect Holiday Puzzles menu screenshot

Amazon has now released 18 different free games, and last year they released two that were designed especially for the holiday season! “We were going to wait to start talking about the holidays, but this new free game for Kindle is getting us in the spirit a little early,” read one announcement on the Kindle’s page on Facebook. “Check it out for yourself, but don’t blame us if you suddenly get the urge to start stringing lights and singing carols!”

That new game was “Picture Perfect Holiday Puzzles,” and within four hours of the announcement, it had already earned 208 “Like” votes and drawn 35 enthusiastic comments. (Like the woman in Minnesota who posted “OMG! OMG! OMG! This is my all time FAVORITE Kindle game, I’ve been waiting for a Part 2 forever!! YESSSS!!!!!!!”) It was a “sequel” to a free game Amazon released called simply “Picture Perfect Puzzles”. In both those games, users try to form a picture by darkening all the correct squares in a grid, making logical deductions from clues showing the number of squares that need darkening in each row and column. But for the second “holiday” version, Amazon created 35 more puzzles, each one with a fun holiday theme. (The puzzles were grouped into six categories: Winter Begins, Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Continues, Kwanzaa, and New Years.)

And would you like to write to Santa Claus? There’s an app for that — at least, if you own a Kindle Fire tablet (or an iPad). Last Christmas, Amazon announced a free Santa app to create holidays wish lists, “for children and their parents…to share with friends, family and Mr. Claus.” They’ve identified more than half a million popular “kid-friendly” items available on Amazon, and according to the director of Amazon Mobile, the apps makes it “fun, easy and intuitive for kids to find exactly what they want.” Just point your browser to amazon.com/santa_app

There’s books, of course, but also toys, games, video games, music, and even movies and TV shows — and you can browse the individual categories or search for specific items. By secretly tracking which gifts have been purchased, it can helip different relatives avoid buying the same gift, and Amazon says the app offers “a great way for parents to spend some quality time with their kids…”

And, “to help make certain there’s a smile Christmas morning.”

Amazon Gives Away Free Christmas Music!

Little and Ashley - Amazon Christmas Kindle Commercial Song Winter Night

There’s a wonderful tradition that Amazon’s been observing for the last few years. Every December, they give away music for the holiday season, absolute free, through Amazon’s music web page. This year, in a new twist, they’re giving away five new songs every five days — starting on December 1st, and continuing through the 25th.

You can check out the newest batch at
tinyurl.com/5FreeChristmasSongs

For the next five days, Amazon’s giving away an old-fashioned “madrigal” style carol, a beautiful, acapella song by a group called Chanticleer. And there’s also a particularly dreamy free version of “O Holy Night” by Rick Springfield, who launched his career playing Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital in the 1980s (and again in 2005). I also liked the mp3 by a band named Sister Hazel — a soulful “alternative” version of the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. And Amazon’s also giving away a free mp3 by R&B artist Brian McKnight — his version of “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

There’s even a recording by the 1980s metal band, Twisted Sister — their hard-rocking version of “Deck the Halls.” But if you don’t like any of these songs, don’t worry. Amazon will be offering another new batch of five free Christmas songs this Friday (December 21st) — the last one before Christmas. And there’s also more free mp3s that are scattered throughout Amazon’s music store — including some more fun Christmas songs.

You can always find all of Amazon’s free mp3s at tinyurl.com/FreeMp3List

Here’s some more of the fun free Christmas songs I discovered this year…

  Jingle Bells by Brian Setzer
  The First Noel by Neil Sedaka
  O Holy Night by Go Radio
  We Three Kings by Justin A. Wilson
  Jingle Bells / Deck the Halls by Clay Crosse
  God Rest You Merry Gentleman by Joseph Patrick Moore Dan Baraszu
  What Child is This (Greensleeves) by Tony Elman
  O Come Emmanuel by Brandon Musser
  The Christmas Song by Mogwai
  Deck the Halls by The K5 Kids
  O Little Town Of Bethlehem by Nature’s Harmony
  The Twelve Days of Christmas by the 101 Strings Orchestra
  Silent Night by The Starlite Singers

There’s even a bluesy free version of Jingle Bells by Jen Carrozza, Jon Chalden, Sam Skelton, Joe Reda and John Carrozza. And there’s also some free mp3s offering some less-traditional Christmas songs.

  Punk Rawk Christmas by MxPx
  (Don’t Call Me) Mrs. Christmas by Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler
  Christmas Anthem by Landon Smith & The Real Matt Jones
  Christmas Train by Carey Bell

I was surprised to discover that there’s even a free six-minute mp3 of “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. And of course, Amazon is also offering some big discounts on entire albums of holiday music. You can browse the whole selection at tinyurl.com/AmazonXmasMP3s . But my favorite free Christmas song has a very big connection to the Kindle…

It’s the song “Winter Night” by Little & Ashley, which Amazon used in some of their first Christmas commercials for the Kindle. (They’re the ones with the stop-motion animation, showing a woman in an ever-changing background symbolizing the large variety of stories you can enjoy on a Kindle.) Two years later, Amazon is still giving this special song away as a free mp3 — just point your browser to tinyurl.com/KindleChristmasSong. As a piano plunks away away in the background, you’ll hear a happy young couple singing…


“Snowflake in my pocket, let’s take a sleigh ride on the ice.
Northern lights are glowing and reflecting in your eyes.

Underneath a starry sky.
Dream with me this winter night!”

Amazon Donates Children’s eBooks to Africa

Twas The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore illustration

This is a sweet deal — in more ways than one. I was browsing the children’s picture books at Amazon, and discovered an unexpected announcement. “This holiday season, when you purchase any Amazon Children’s Publishing book for yourself, your friends or family, you’ll also be helping to make digital books available to children and young adults in Africa. Buy any Amazon Children’s Publishing book in print or ebook format between Saturday, December 1, 2012 and Monday, December 24, 2012 and we’ll donate an Amazon Children’s Publishing ebook to the Worldreader program.”

Browse the selection at tinyurl.com/KidsBookDonations

This was a surprise — and it gave me a warm feeling inside. Imagine reading The Night Before Christmas, and knowing that you’ve also introduced that same book to a far-away corner of the world. “I looked at a number of illustrated versions of this book and this particular one had the best pictures,” noted one reviewer on Amazon. “They are large and realistic, with beautiful with candy colors.”

Of course, then I worried that children in Africa might not be celebrating Christmas, and wondered if it’d be better to buy Little Lost Tiger or Hippo Goes Bananas. (Or even a humorous children’s book that’s titled The Hiccupotamus.) But the important thing is whatever book you buy, it’s ultimately helping children learn how to read. Worldreader is a non-profit that’s trying to make ebooks and Kindles available to both children and young adults in the “developing” world (primarily Africa).

I’ve always loved the story of this charity. In 2008, a man took his family on a tour of the world. While visiting an orphanage in South America, he asked what was behind the padlocked doors of a tin building. The answer was disturbing: it was books. In fact, it was the local library. The materials had become outdated, and the library fell into disuse.

And then he had an idea. Throughout the trip his own daughters had been reading ebooks on their digital reader. He got the idea of starting a charity with one simple goal: to use ebook technology to “put a library of books within reach of every family on the planet”. He named it World Reader.org, and four years later, Amazon’s helping them out. I love the idea that they’ll send these children a copy of the same ebooks that I’m reading.

There’s one important caveat. At first I thought Amazon would donate any children’s picture book to the WorldReader program, but they’re actually only donating the ones that are published by Amazon Children’s Publishing. (And the books have to be purcahsed through Amazon.com.) But there’s a lot of titles to choose from.

And it’s an easy way to feel like you’ve done something nice this holiday season!

Amazon Announces Big Kindle Sales Figures

Kindle gift-wrapped as a Christmas gift

Amazon won’t release specific numbers about their Kindle sales — but they made a rare exception Thursday in their special year-end press release. “2011 is the Best Holiday Ever for Kindle,” Amazon announced, pointing to the fact that this year, they’d sold “millions of Kindle Fires and millions of Kindle e-readers.”

That’s still vague, but it reveals a big number if you parse it carefully. “Millions” has to mean at least two million, and Amazon’s apparently reporting two different numbers — one for the holiday sales of their color Kindle Fire tablets, and another one for holiday sales of their family of black-and-white e-ink Kindles. That means Amazon sold at least four million Kindles in December — a fact they confirm later in their press release. “Throughout December, customers purchased well over 1 million Kindle devices per week,” Amazon announced.

Unfortunately, there’s no telling what Amazon means by “well over one million”. And it’s fun to look at other clever tricks that Amazon’s used over the years to avoid giving out a specific number. For example, last year in December of 2010, Amazon made an announcement about sales for their newly-released Kindle 3. “[I]n the last 73 days, readers have purchased more Kindles than we sold during all of 2009,” the statement read — without providing an actual number!

“Amazon has a tradition of playing these stupid mind games with the press…” complained one columnist at PC World. “Amazon really took the cake for its silly numbers game last December [of 2009], when the company announced it had sold enough 8 gigabyte iPods during the holiday season to play 422 years of continuous music. The company also claimed it had sold enough Blu-ray disc players during the 2009 holiday sales blitz that if you lined up all the players side-by-side they would stretch for more than 27 miles. Huh?”

And this year, Amazon released a press release with some even stranger comparisons.

“Amazon’s third-party sellers sold enough cameras for every fan at the next 10 Super Bowls to snap their own shots of the winning touchdown.”

“Amazon’s third-party sellers sold enough toys in 2011 to give a toy to every resident of Chicago.”

“[Third-party sellers] sold as many Lalaloopsy Dolls as there are lights on the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City.”

I love Amazon, and I love my Kindle — but it’s for that reason that I wish Amazon would tell us how many other people have actually bought a Kindle! “Reading Amazon’s press releases on Kindle’s greatness is like having a discussion with a kindergartner or a politician,” complained one analyst at The Motley Fool. “They all tell you what they think you want to hear in glowing superlatives, but lack the details you really need to know before drawing your own conclusion!”

But at least Amazon’s press release this morning also reported an interesting phenomenon that I’d also noticed earlier this month. “[T]he #1 and #4 best-selling Kindle books released in 2011 were both published independently,” they announced, and both ebooks came from authors using Amazon’s “Kindle Direct Publishing” program for self-publishing ebooks. Amazon’s CEO called it “a huge milestone for independent publishing,” congratulating the two authors, and delivering a message for anyone who got a Kindle for Christmas. “We are grateful to our customers worldwide for making this the best holiday ever for Kindle…”

Amazon Announces Strange Sales Milestones

Steve Jobs biography is a rising sun over Mount Everest

If you bought a copy of the book Steve Jobs, you’re part of a very strange milestone. It was Amazon’s #1 best-selling book this holiday season, and today Amazon announced their customers “purchased enough copies…to create a stack taller than Mt. Everest!”

It’s an annual Amazon tradition — the fun (but nearly-meaningless) statistics about their massive holiday sales. For example, “The cumulative weight of the Bowflex 552 Adjustable Dumbbells purchased by Amazon customers would outweigh more than 70 adult elephants.” And “If you unfolded and stacked each pair of jeans purchased by Amazon customers this holiday, the height would be 2,500 times taller than the Statue of Liberty.”

But they’ve also included some real information in their annual press release. For example, Amazon’s announced their best-selling books for this year’s holiday season.

    “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson
    “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever”
    “11/22/63” by Stephen King

And they’re also releasing a separate set of figures for the holiday best-sellers in Kindle ebooks!

    “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
    Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins
    The Litigators” by John Grisham

It’s also interesting to hear stories about Amazon’s luckiest customer, who placed an order at 2:35 on Saturday afternoon — the day before Christmas — and actually received their order on the same day, just 3 hours and 40 minutes later! They’d ordered a rechargeable pack of batteries, and they shipped it using Amazon’s “Local Express Delivery” service. It offers one-day shipping for $10 in ten different cities — or just $3.99 if you’re just purchasing a gift card. (And it’s just $3.99 to deliver any order if you’re a member of Amazon’s Prime shipping program.) Not every item is always available for one-day shipping — check its “product description” page on Amazon.com to make sure. But here’s a list of the 10 cities where Amazon’s now offering the one-day shipping option — grouped by the cut-off time for placing your orders (using their local time).

    1 p.m.
    Seattle

    11:00 a.m.
    Las Vegas:

    10:30
    Baltimore
    Boston
    Washington, D.C.

    10 a.m.
    New York City (and parts of New Jersey)
    Philadelphia

    9:30 a.m.
    Phoenix

    7:00 a.m.
    Chicago
    Indianapolis

Interestingly, the cut-off time for Seattle is supposed to be 1:00 p.m. But apparently the luckiest customer of the year placed their order more than 90 minutes later — and still received their batteries on the same day!

And if you look carefully, you can even extract some real numbers from the rest of Amazon’s descriptive statistics. For example, “Amazon customers purchased enough sweaters to outfit each of Santa’s reindeer during Christmas Eve deliveries for the next 14,000 years.” It’s like one of those “story problems” that high school students dread in their math class. (Eight reindeer — plus one more, if you count Rudolph — would need nine sweaters for Christmas Eve, so if Amazon outfitted them for the next 14,000 years, that’d be nine times 14,000 — or 126,000 sweaters….) That doesn’t seem like a lot of sweaters, until you remember that they were all purchased online at Amazon.com. Though there’s still no way of knowing which sweaters, or how much they cost.

It’s as though Amazon is sending reporters on a fun scavenger hunt for their actual sales figures. They’re reporting that “Amazon customers purchased enough HeatMax HotHands Handwarmers to give a pair to each resident of Iceland.” According to Wikipedia, the population of Iceland is about 320,000, so that’s also the number of handwarmers that were sold — 320,000. But they’re distributed in boxes of 10, boxes of 40, and also individually, so there’s still no way to calculate how many boxes were actually sold. And it could be as low as 8,000 boxes, representing sales of just $160,000…

Here’s two more “math puzzles” from Amazon — some interesting sales milestones from the great holiday shopping season of 2011.

“Amazon customers purchased enough copies of Just Dance 3 to give 15 copies to each person who participated in setting the world record for simultaneous dancing.”

“Amazon customers purchased enough Rory’s Story Cubes to give a cube to each person watching the New Year’s Eve ball drop live at Times Square.”

But there’s one question that even Amazon can’t answer. They announced’d their customers “purchased enough copies of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs book to create a stack taller than Mt. Everest.”

So how many ebook versions would they have to sell to reach the top of Mt. Everest?

Amazon Announces Last-Minute Christmas Specials

Amazon offers free shipping on Kindles for Christmas

There was some real excitement right around Christmas time. It’s easy to buy a new Kindle, now that the cheapest Kindles cost just $79. And on December 21st, until 8 p.m. (in Seattle), Amazon offered free two-day shipping on any Kindle, so it’d arrive just in time for the holidays!

“[W]e’re making it even easier to give a new Kindle this Christmas with free two-day shipping,” an executive in Amazon’s Kindle department bragged (adding “The new Kindles are hands down the best gifts you can give this holiday season…”) They offered the free two-day shipping to any address in the (continental) United States for any of the new Kindle models — including the color touchscreen Kindle Fire tablets, the Kindle Touch, and the new $79 Kindle. And of course, Amazon’s announcement also reminded you that you can “gift” an e-book, and schedule it’s delivery for a specific day — like Christmas. And they offered one more helpful suggestion for how to spend money at Amazon. “For $79, customers are buying multiple Kindles to use as stocking stuffers!”

But there’s also some deals that lasted even after Christmas at Amazon. I see some of the best games for the Kindle have gone on sale now for the ultra-cheap price of just 99 cents! For example, last week Electronic Arts released a slick new Kindle version of the classic game, Battleship. They’d originally priced it at $4.99 — but right now, it’s available for just 99 cents! (Just point your computer’s web browser to tinyurl.com/KindleBattleship

And it’s not the only great game that’s suddenly lowered its price. In fact, every game from Electronic Arts is now specially priced at just 99 cents. (Point your browser to tinyurl.com/MoreEAGames .) There’s even a master game pack that’s called “POGO Hearts, Spades, and More” which also includes Euchre, Gin, and Canasta in a single download. Here’s a list of the other EA games which are currently on sale for just 99 cents.

    Yahtzee
    Scrabble
    Solitaire
    Monopoly
    Trivial Pursuit
    Texas Hold’em
    Sudoku

But it gets better, because Amazon’s announced their list of the best games for all of 2011 — and all of those 25 games are on sale now for just 99 cents! That includes Mobigloo’s version of Mahjong Solitaire — which normally costs $3.99, and which Amazon named the #5 best game of the year. (Mobigloo’s Jewels — normally $1.99 — also grabbed the #3 on Amazon’s “best games of the year” list.) But it was EA Games that took four of the top ten slots on the list, including the #1 spot (for Yahtzee) and the #2 spot (for Scrabble).

To see the complete list, just point your computer’s web browser to tinyurl.com/Best2011Games. There’s New York Times crossword puzzles, many variations on Sudoku, and several apps with calendars, calculators, or Yoga poses.

And surprisingly, you can even get a discount on SpongeBob Squarepants’ Treasure Quest – since Amazon’s declared it the #16 best game of the year!

Four MORE Free Christmas eBooks

A Christmas Carol original book cover illustration

I’ve already written about how much I enjoy reading special Christmas ebooks on my Kindle each year. I’ve done a little research through Amazon’s site, and each year it’s full of fun surprises. It’s just delightful when you discover a new ebook about Christmas especially when it’s by an author that you already know. And yes, it turns out that some of the greatest authors in history have written Christmas stories — and they’re all available for free in Amazon’s Kindle store!

A Christmas Carol by Charlies Dickens
It’s not just a story about Christmas. It’s partly responsible for the way that way celebrate it. The story by 31-year-old Charles Dickens “was one of the single greatest influences in rejuvenating the old Christmas traditions of England,” according to Wikipedia, which notes it was published just as new customs were established like tree-decorating and Christmas cards. The book helped to popularize these traditions, though ironically, the story was immediately pirated after Dickens published it, and he realized almost no profits from the story himself!
I’ve enjoyed the way Charles Dickens writes, with simple yet very moving stories — and I’m not the only one. On Amazon’s list of the best-selling free ebooks, A Christmas Carol is currently #11. And interestingly, it turns out that Charles Dickens followed this up with even more Christmas stories — including The Cricket on the Hearth, The Chimes, and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.

All there stories are available for free in Amazon’s Kindle store.

Old Christmas by Washington Irving
He was America’s first internationally popular author, and he wrote two timeless stories — Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. But he also fathered many of our Christmas traditions. At the age of 29, when he was starting his career in 1812, Irving added five nostalgic Christmas stories to a collection of writing, and for one dream sequence, imagined what would happen if St. Nicholas flew over the forests in a flying sleigh. That’s believed to have inspired many of the subsequent stories about Santa Claus and his flying reindeer!
And the stories had an even greater impact. Irving also researched holiday traditions as far back as 1652, and according to Wikipedia, and his popular stories “contributed to the revival and reinterpretation of the Christmas holiday in the United States.” Even Charles Dickens himself said that Irving’s stories influenced his own famous novella, A Christmas Carol.

A Visit From Saint Nicholas by Clement Clark Moore
Here’s something fun to download: the original text of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” (One historian called it “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American,” according to Wikipedia.) But you can only find the free ebook if you search on its original title — “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”. If you search for its first line — “Twas the Night Before Christmas” — Amazon’s Kindle Store will only show paid versions

There’s some interesting trivia about this story. In its first printing in 1823, Santa’s reindeer were named “Dunder” and “Blixem,” which are the Dutch words for “thunder” and “lightning.” But over the years their names changed into the more familiar-sounding “Donner” and “Blitzen”!

Christmas Eve by Robert Browning
He’s one of the most famous poets of the 19th century — and he in 1850 wrote a stark but thoughtful poem about visiting St. Peter’s church in Rome. It ultimately turns into a discussion about the nature of faith, but it was the first poem he published after his marriage, according to Wikipedia, and gives rare hints about the famous poet’s own religious views. One reviewer on Amazon described it as “A strange flighty trek in and out of trances and chapels to see rainbows and versions of God.” But another reader complained that they’d found it difficult to even read the poem, because the ebook wasn’t formatted properly.
“Who in their right mind eliminates line breaks and thinks they can get away with it?”

Four Free Christmas eBooks

Four free Kindle Christmas ebooks

Are you feeling the holiday spirit? Every year I like to stuff my Kindle full of Christmas mp3s and Christmas ebooks. It’s become my own personal holiday tradition, a great way to enjoy the special season in an entirely new way. And this year I’ve discovered some fun new Christmas ebooks have also found their way into Amazon’s “free ebook” section!

O Little Town by Don Reid

Even I’ve heard of the Statler Brothers, the country band that Kurt Vonnegut once called “America’s poets.” But now at the age of 66, their lead singer has launched a second career as a writer of sentimental stories about life in a small town. It’s Christmas time in his story, and three different families are experiencing both happy and bittersweet moments of friendship and faith. “I live in Staunton, the hometown of the Statler Brothers, and know Don Reid and his wife, Debbie..,” reads one review on Amazon. “The last chapters, in which all the main characters attend a Christmas Eve candlelight service where the Pastor delivers a sermon about forgiveness, spoke to my heart… Thank you, Don, for a beautiful Christmas story.”


A Dixie Christmas by Sandra Hill

Elvis Presley never meant much to Clayton Jessup the III. But in this book, he’s inherited a Memphis hotel called “the Blue Suede Suites,” and discovers it’s the home to a tribe of Elvis impersonators who’ve used it to create a living Nativity scene! It’s one of two Christmas stories here by romance-writer Sandra Hill that both take place in the South. The other one describes a former NASCAR star trying to win back his ex-wife who somehow ends up in a wild Cajun variety show. They sound like fun stories, and it’s currently the #1 free ebook in the entire Kindle Store.


The Mouse and the Christmas Cake (Author Unknown)

“This poem about a mouse that builds a house in a decoration castle on top of a Christmas cake was first published in New York in 1858…” explains one review on Amazon. This ebook even includes five original pictures from the 1858 edition, and another reviewer described it as a “Cute, easy-to-read-aloud poem with old-fashioned illustrations [that] brought a smile.” It’s a children’s poem with just a few pages of text, but I really enjoyed it…

“A pretty story I will tell, of Nib a little Mouse
Who took delight, when none were near, to skip about the house.”


The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen

A Charlie Brown Christmas was partly inspired by this fairy tale. Lee Mendelson, who was asked to help write a script for the TV show, remembered the previous Christmas when he’d read this story to his children. It’s the story of Christmas from the tree’s perspective — a little fir tree that “was not happy, it wished so much to be tall like its companions.”

“Sometimes the children would bring a large basket of raspberries or strawberries, wreathed on a straw, and seat themselves near the fir-tree, and say, ‘Is it not a pretty little tree?'”

It’s fun to peek in on a Christmas in 1844 — even as the tree anticipates a long journey from the woods into a celebrating home. Like many fairy tales, there’s a bittersweet ending — but it’s a story you’ll never forget!

Free Christmas mp3s from Amazon.com!

Celtic Woman Christmas song Ave Maria - Believe album cover

Amazon’s giving away a free Christmas mp3 — and not just for today, but every day, for the next 25 days! Just keep pointing your computer’s web browser to tinyurl.com/25xmasMP3s. (If your Kindle has an mp3 player, you can finally stock it with some holiday music!) And Amazon’s also created a free “Santa” app for the Kindle Fire (and the iPad) which lets children create a wish list of Amazon items — for Santa Claus!

The free mp3s are on a special “25 Days of Free” web page that’s designed like an advent calendar, where a new surprise gets revealed every day as a countdown to Christmas. Except here, the calendar’s squares get replaced by album covers!

Advent_Square

For December 1, Amazon’s offering a lavish Christmas song by the Celtic Woman group — their rendition of the traditional song Ave Maria. It’s a preview of their yet-to-be-released new album, “Believe,” which won’t be available until January 24 of next year!

“Every day through Christmas, we’re unveiling a new holiday song available to download free,” Amazon announces on the web page, specifying that the free downloads are available “for a limited time.” (So it’s not clear if each one is free for just 24 hours, or if Amazon will also let you “catch up” on the free downloads from previous days.) Also available for free is the complete version of the song “Winter Night” by Little & Ashley, which Amazon used last year in their Christmas Kindle commercials (with the stop-motion animation). (Just point your browser to tinyurl.com/KindleChristmasSong .)


Snowflake in my pocket, let’s take a sleigh ride on the ice.
Northern lights are glowing and reflecting in your eyes.

Underneath a starry sky.
Dream with me this winter night.

And of course, Amazon also points users to their “MP3 Holiday Store,” which includes a special section of 100 different holiday mp3 albums that are bargain-priced at just $5 each. I’d laugh this off
except the selection actually does includes some of my all-time favorite Christmas albums, including Christmas with the Rat Pack, A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby’s I Wish You a Merry Christmas, and an expanded version of Vince Guaraldi’s music for “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”. There’s also Christmas albums from Weezer, Christina Aguilera, Zooey Deschanel’s band “She and Him,” and even the cast of Sesame Street – plus some performers you wouldn’t expect, like Bob Dylan and Twisted Sister.

All these and some other $5 Christmas album downloads are at tinyURL.com/AmazonXmasMP3s

Or would you like to write to Santa Claus? There’s an app for that — at least, if you own a Kindle Fire tablet (or an iPad). Wednesday Amazon announced a free Santa app to create holidays wish lists, “for children and their parents…to share with friends, family and Mr. Claus.” They’ve identified more than half a million popular “kid-friendly” items available on Amazon, and according to the director of Amazon Mobile, the apps makes it “fun, easy and intuitive for kids to find exactly what they want.” Just point your browser to amazon.com/santa_app

There’s books, of course, but also toys, games, video games, music, and even movies and TV shows — and you can browse the individual categories or search for specific items. By secretly tracking which gifts have been purchased, it can helip different relatives avoid buying the same gift, and Amazon says the app offers “a great way for parents to spend some quality time with their kids…”

And, “to help make certain there’s a smile Christmas morning.”

10 Coolest Kindle Covers and Cases

I had a lot of fun writing about gift ideas for Kindle owners. (There were covers that looked like an old-fashioned book — and some that made your Kindle look like you’re reading The New Yorker.) But this opened my eyes to a new world of Kindle accessories, and with some more research, I discovered some even more spectacular ways to customize and accessorize a Kindle.

Matte Finish “Her Abstraction” DecalGirl Protective Kindle Skin

You can give your Kindle a special “arts and crafts” feel using vinyl skins (backed with adhesive) that you apply to completely cover the outside of your Kindle. This design is called “Her Abstraction”, and its page in the Kindle store promises it can reduce the glare from your Kindle’s hard plastic edges, and also prevent fingerpints (since the vinyl is coated with a special protective layer of matte).

DecalGirl pink Kindle vinyl protective cover skin

It’s created by a manufacturer named “DecalGirl,” who offers several other attractive designs in the Kindle store.. Below is a picture of my second favorite. Just released in August, it’s a design they call “Empty Nest.” (“It’s very pretty…” wrote one reviewer in Amazon’s Kindle store. “But just so people know; it’s just a sticker. It doesn’t protect the kindle in case you drop it, etc…”)

DecalGirl Kindle protective vinyl skin Empty Nest

They also also a retro “leopard skin” pattern – and a stylish black-and-white drawing with a spectacular red heart right in the center…

Stars & Stripes GelaSkins Protective Kindle Skin

On the 4th of July, I read the Declaration of Independence on my Kindle. But imagine how patriotic I’d feel if my Kindle actually looked like an American flag.

Kindle soldier custom American flag case mod vinyl protective skin design

For $19.99, a manufactuer named “GelaSkins” offers a long line of arty “protective skins” for your Kindle, but the main difference is these vinyl skins actually cover your Kindle’s screen. The idea is to protect it from scratches when the Kindle is in transit. (Its description on Amazon.com promises it can be removed and re-applied “with no residue”.) You can change the look of your Kindle again and again by switching from one skin design to another.

One reviewer noted that the pictures are a little misleading, since unless you turn your Kindle all the way off, its screen will revert to a screensaver picture. But I was still impressed by the many arty patterns they have available for the Kindle — including a colorful design with an ocean drawing that they’re calling “The Great Wave.”

Genuine Brown Leather Hide Tuff-Luv Western Saddle Case Cover

Leather Kindle saddle cover

This one comes with a handy stand, so you can prop up your Kindle and enjoy hands-free reading. (One Kindle owner announced in Amazon’s Kindle Discussion Forum that it was perfect for reading cookbooks.) It’s actually hand-made, according to the description in Amazon’s Kindle store. (And yes, that’s actual cow hide that it’s made from, which they describe as both “genuine” and “rugged”.) I like the western design of the case, which seems like it would give a unique, old-fashioned feeling to your Kindle of solid and sturdy craftmanship. (The case’s workmanship comes with a lifetime guarantee.)

And for $29.99, you can also give your Kindle a woven hemp cover. (It even comes with a little flap on the side which you can use for holding a pen!)

Scatter Dot BUILT Neoprene Kindle Sleeve

It’s like a comfy sock for your Kindle. (“Machine wash cold; air dry,” it says in the cover’s description on Amazon.)
Built Kindle protective cushion padded safety holder
The manufacturer is also proud of the slightly curved “hourglass” shape of the sleve, which they argue gives extra protection to the Kindle by creating a kind of cushioning “bumper.” It’s created by a company called “Built,” and they offer several other designs if you’re not interested in “Scatter Dot.” They all offer interesting patterns with arty names — like the black-and-white “Vine,” or the warm oranges and reds of “Nolita Stripe.”

And there’s even one with a series of blue, green, and black bands that’s called “Bowery Stripe and Scuba Blue.”

Ikat Choco Canvas Clutch cover by designer Diane von Furstenberg

She married (and then divorced) a German prince, and re-married a commoner in 2001. But along the way, Diane von Furstenberg built an international reputation as a fashion designer — and in April, she released a line of purse-shaped “clutches” for the Amazon Kindle.

Diane von Furstenberg Kindle purse cover with latch

There’s three patterns — the one above is “Ikat Choco,” though there’s a less-busy pattern that’s called
“Signature,” plus a soft blue one with patches of white that’s called “Spotted Cat.” There’s actually a purse-style clatch that can hold the case shut, and when it folds open, you can hold your Kindle like a book — and there’s even a pouch to hold business cards.

MLB Baseball protective Kindle skins by SkinIt

Major League Baseball sports team logo custom Kindle protective skin

Do you know a fan of major league baseball? Nearly every team has a protective Kindle skin for sale in Amazon’s Kindle store, courtesy of a company called Skinit. There’s the Minnesota Twins (pictured above), the New York Yankees, and of course, this year’s World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants. Each one adds the familiar red stitches of a major league baseball to the front edges of your Kindle — and adds a team logo to the back, using an easily-removable vinyl skin.

The offerings aren’t just limited to baseball. SkinIt offers vinyl Kindle skins with lots of NFL Football teams, NBA basketball teams, and even NCAAF college football teams. And last month, they even began offering a Kindle skin with pictures of the vampires from Twilight — and another one with Mickey Mouse!
Twilight and Mickey Mouse Kindle picture cover

They’re sold separately, of course…!

Five (Free) Famous Christmas eBooks

A Christmas Carol original book cover illustration
Some of the greatest authors in history have written Christmas stories — and they’re all available for free in Amazon’s Kindle store!

The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen

A Charlie Brown Christmas was partly inspired by this fairy tale. Lee Mendelson, who was asked to help write a script for the TV show, remembered the previous Christmas when he’d read this story to his children. It’s the story of Christmas from the tree’s perspective — a little fir tree that “was not happy, it wished so much to be tall like its companions…

“Sometimes the children would bring a large basket of raspberries or strawberries, wreathed on a straw, and seat themselves near the fir-tree, and say, ‘Is it not a pretty little tree?’…”

It’s fun to peek in on a Christmas in 1844 — even as the tree anticipates a long journey from the woods into a celebrating home. Like many fairy tales, there’s a bittersweet ending — but it’s a story you’ll never forget.

Old Christmas by Washington Irving

He was America’s first internationally popular author, and he wrote two timeless stories — Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. But he also fathered many of our Christmas traditions. At the age of 29, when he was starting his career in 1812, Irving added five nostalgic Christmas stories to a collection of writing, and for one dream sequence, imagined what would happen if St. Nicholas flew over the forests in a flying sleigh. That’s believed to have inspired many of the subsequent stories about Santa Claus and his flying reindeer!

And the stories had an even greater impact. Irving also researched holiday traditions as far back as 1652, and according to Wikipedia, and his popular stories “contributed to the revival and reinterpretation of the Christmas holiday in the United States.” Even Charles Dickens himself said that Irving’s stories influenced his own famous novella, A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol by Charlies Dickens

It’s not just a story about Christmas. It’s partly responsible for the way that way celebrate it. The story by 31-year-old Charles Dickens “was one of the single greatest influences in rejuvenating the old Christmas traditions of England,” according to Wikipedia, which notes it was published just as new customs were established like tree-decorating and Christmas cards. The book helped to popularize these traditions, though ironically, the story was immediately pirated after Dickens published it, and he realized almost no profits from the story himself!

I’ve enjoyed the way Charles Dickens writes, with simple yet very moving stories — and I’m not the only one. On Amazon’s list of the best-selling free ebooks, A Christmas Carol is currently #11. And interestingly, it turns out that Charles Dickens followed this up with even more Christmas stories — including The Cricket on the Hearth, The Chimes, and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.

All there stories are available for free in Amazon’s Kindle store.

A Visit From Saint Nicholas by Clement Clark Moore

Here’s something fun to download: the original text of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” (One historian called it “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American,” according to Wikipedia.) But you can only find the free ebook if you search on its original title — “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”. If you search for its first line — “Twas the Night Before Christmas” — Amazon’s Kindle Store will only show paid versions

There’s some interesting trivia about this story. In its first printing in 1823, Santa’s reindeer were named “Dunder” and “Blixem,” which are the Dutch words for “thunder” and “lightning.” But over the years their names changed into the more familiar-sounding “Donner” and “Blitzen”!

Christmas Eve by Robert Browning

He’s one of the most famous poets of the 19th century — and he in 1850 wrote a stark but thoughtful poem about visiting St. Peter’s church in Rome. It ultimately turns into a discussion about the nature of faith, but it was the first poem he published after his marriage, according to Wikipedia, and gives rare hints about the famous poet’s own religious views. One reviewer on Amazon described it as “A strange flighty trek in and out of trances and chapels to see rainbows and versions of God.” But another reader complained that they’d found it difficult to even read the poem, because the ebook wasn’t formatted properly.

“Who in their right mind eliminates line breaks and thinks they can get away with it?”

Gift Ideas for Kindle Owners

I’ve given this a lot of thought. Someone in your life loves their Kindle — and now it’s that special time of year when you want to give them a gift. Unfortunately, this year’s popular gift item is the Kindle — and they have one already! What can you give them besides a Kindle that will make their eyes light with excitement?

For starters, how about a big stack of Kindle ebooks?

Gift Cards and Gift Certificates
Amazon sells pre-paid gift cards for Kindle purchases — and you can even get one with a holiday picture!

More Amazon Christmas gift certificate pictures for the Kindle or Facebook

There’s also card designs that say Happy New Years or Happy Holidays — plus over 100 other designs for special occasions throughout the year.

Amazon Christmas gift certificate pictures for Facebook or the Kindle

For last-minute gifts, you can even e-mail an official Amazon gift certificate instead. (Or, if you’ve got a Facebook account, send it as a Facebook e-mail instead…)

Decorative Covers
Some of these are really gorgeous. There’s a whole line by fashion design Kate Spade — including some stitched canvas covers that make your Kindle look like an actual book! (You even hold it in your hands like a book, folding open its top cover to reveal the Kindle’s screen…)

Kate Spade Great Gatsby Kindle book cover

And M-Edge has created a line of three different covers designed to look like The New Yorker magazine.

Kindle New Yorker magazine case cover

Or for a more practical gift, M-Edge also sell a Kindle “Guardian Case” which is waterproof. According to the product’s description, it will even float on the surface of the water, finally making it possible to read your Kindle in the bathtub, and one reviewer posted about reading their Kindle while relaxing in a swimming pool. (“I daresay I even used it as paddle on one occasion when my raft drifted too far from the boat!”)

Rubber Protectors
Of course, there’s lots of other decorative skins. Just five weeks ago, a new Marware product line appeared in Amazon’s Kindle Accessories Store: colorful rubber “skins” that wrap around a Kindle. The sturdy padding is technically referred to as a “fitted silicone case,” and it protects your Kindle from chipping if it falls to a hard surface. And, according to at least one reviewer on Amazon, it can also make your Kindle easier to grip.

Pink Kindle skin gift cover

There’s seven different colors to choose from, including black, white, and graphite — matching the colors of Kindles — but also pink, red, blue, and “frosted”. And best of all, they’re all available for under $20.

Of course, if you want to offer someone the ultimate protection for their Kindle — buy their Kindle a two-year extended warranty!

Reading Light
They own a Kindle — but do they own a Kandle? These cute, battery-powered reading lamps fit over the top of a Kindle. It’s currently Amazon’s best-selling reading light for the Kindle — but perhaps the best testimonial comes from an Amazon reviewer who’d been keeping his bedroom lamp on to read his Kindle — only to discover this was infuriating his wife!


“I’m going to smash your new toy!” she growled one morning with the force of crossed gods and dying suns. A chill swept over the planet. Birds stopped singing. Children paused in playgrounds.

“Enter the Kandle. Now I can read in bed (my favorite place in the house) with barely any light spilling over onto my wife’s eyelids… No more threats against the Kindle or me.”

Kandle reading lamp light for Amazon Kindle

Ebooks
In November, Amazon introduced a brand new feature for the Kindle: the ability to “gift” someone with the book of your choice. Unfortunately, the ebook doesn’t actually appear on their Kindle — Amazon just sends along an e-mail announcing that the ebook’s now available and that it’s already been pre-purchased — so this only works as a Christmas gift if your intended recipient is checking their e-mail on Christmas Day. But I still think it’s an exciting gift, because it’s a completely new way that you can surprise the Kindle lover in your life.

Joke Gifts
I’ve always thought this was a great idea. Why not gift a Kindle owner with an ebook that they don’t want. When the Kindle lover in your life declines the ebook, Amazon automatically credits their account with that ebook’s original purchase price — meaning that it’s really just an ebook gift certificate, in the form of a very unappreciated book! My suggestion for the gag gift? A Kindle ebook that’s all about the Nook — like “Nook Survival Guide – Step-by-Step User Guide for the Nook eReader.”

And of course, don’t overlook the most spectacular gift idea of all for your Kindle-loving friends. If you’ve got the money, you could always buy them another Kindle! If they’ve got the Kindle 3G, get them a $139 Kindle WiFi, so they can enjoy their reading on a Kindle that’s even lighter. Or, buy them an international Kindle Dx, so that they can enjoy its even bigger 9.7-inch screen.

After all, if they’ve already got a Kindle — then you know it’s a gift that they’ll really enjoy…