Amazon Gives Away Free Stuff for Halloween

Batman Li'l Gotham Halloween coverFor Halloween, Amazon’s Kindle Store is offering a funny free comic book that looks at Batman when he was a child — as part of D.C. Comics special series, Li’l Gotham. It’s one of two stories in D.C.’s “Halloween Comic Fest 2013”, a 22-page holiday give-away that’s a nice way to celebrate. “Every once you in a while you just want to see the citizens of Gotham in a new light,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon, “and that’s exactly what this book is all about.” And of course, they added that the artwork of the superheroes as trick-or-treating children “looked like fun to draw!”

And for Halloween night, you might also want to download the free audiobook version of Dracula by Bram Stoker. It’s read by a long list of narrators that includes Tim Curry — who played the lurking evil in the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s It, and of course also starred as the crazed libertine scientist in the The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Why is Amazon doing this? To show off their special feature they’re making available for audiobooks, “Whispersync for Voice”. Now if you’re reading the text of an ebook on any Kindle, you can instantly switch over to its audiobook version on your Kindle tablet (or in a Kindle app). And the audiobook’s narrator will continue reading right where you left off!

“Most people I know believe that if they only had more time to read, they would be more imaginative, more interesting, and more successful,” the founder of Audible.com once said in an excited press release. “Whispersync for Voice directly addresses that need. The ability to seamlessly switch back and forth between reading text on any Kindle and listening to the same title in audio on your smartphone [or on your Kindle Fire tablet] — and always pick up where you left off — means that the story can continue during those times of the day when you cannot look at a screen.” It’s a feature that’s exclusively available on the Kindle, with specially-enabled ebooks that are sold through Amazon’s Kindle Store.

And it seems like Halloween is the perfect time for a ghost story that’s delivered by a whisper!

October’s Discounted Kindle eBooks!

Crazy Horse and Custer by Stephen Ambrose      Deadpool Classic

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


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

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


A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

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

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


Deadpool Classic

Deadpool Classic, Vol. 1 ($3.99)

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


Crazy Horse and Custer by Stephen Ambrose

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

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

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

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


Goosebumps - Night of the Living Ventriloquist's Dummy

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

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

Amazon Discounts 400 Kindle eBooks by up to 85%

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

More Stories from The Twilight Zone by Rod SerlingSlash by Slash

A lot of great ebooks are on sale at Amazon — but only for the next two weeks! It’s their special “Big Deal” sale — “up to 85% off on more than 400 Kindle ebooks” — and through August 24th, they’re offering an incredible variety of choices.

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

Here’s some of the most exciting ebooks…


Guardians of the Galaxy - Volume 1

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 1 ($3.99)

It’s six issues of the Marvel comic book — 152 pages — bound together into a full-color Kindle ebook! See Peter Quill (a.k.a. “Star-Lord”), plus Drax the Destroyer, and Gamora — the “deadliest woman alive”. (And of course, Rocket Racoon…) You can read this cosmic comic book on any touch-screen Kindle — as well as the Kindle apps for smartphones and tablets — and it’s a good way to explore the strange characters from this summer’s big blockbuster movie. “Two words sum up this book: Action and Humor,” writes one reviewer on Amazon. “If you like either you should definitely pick it up.”


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

Are you ready for another eerie journey into a dimension of sight and sound — and the mind? Rod Serling promised TV viewers “the middle ground between science and superstition…the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge” — but the award-winning writer also delivered those same thrills in print! Serling adapated his favorite TV scripts into chilling short stories which are drawing wildly positive reviews from fans of the series. (” fantastically written…wonderful descriptions and wordsmithing.”) There’s even an introduction by Rod Serling’s daughter — and the whole ebook is free if you’ve subscribed to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service. (And if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you can also watch all of the original Twilight Zone episodes for free…)


The Big Four - a Hercule Poirot mystery by Agatha Christie

The Big Four (a Hercule Poirot Mystery) by Agatha Christie ($1.99)

Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective — accompanied by his friend Captain Hastings — is enjoying a boat trip to South America. But suddenly a strange man appears (covered in mud and dust) scrawling the number 4 over and over again, delivering a crucial clue in yet another murder investigation. Or is it international intrigue — and potentially a sinister cabal of crooked criminals waiting to be brought to justice? One Amazon reviewer described this brilliant piece of detective fiction as “absolutely one of Agatha Christie’s best Hercule Poirot mysteries.”


Slash by Slash

Slash by Slash ($1.99)

The guitarist for Guns N’ Rose delivers a memoir “that redefines sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” according to this book’s description on Amazon. Sharing “intensely personal” stories about a life of unlimited debauchery (from riots to rehab), Slash reveals the path from a rock-and-roll salvation to his own evolution and triumph, in a book which was surprisingly well-reviewed. (“Funny, honest, inspiring, jaw-dropping . . . and, in a word, excessive,” reads its description on Amazon — and the British newspaper The Observer calls it “The most insane rock n’ roll autobiography you’ll ever read…”)


Remember, for a shortcut point your browser to
tinyURL.com/TheBigEbookDeal

The 90 Most Useful Kindle Urls

Digital Publishing vs. the Gutenberg press

Once a year, I assemble my “master list” of shortcuts to the most useful pages for Kindle owners – like all of the free ebooks, music and comic books that Amazon’s been making available. But this year there’s 40 new links which highlight all the changes that happened in 2013 that became a part of the Kindle universe!

Instead of trying to memorize a bunch of complicated URLs, I’ve created shorter, easier-to-remember addresses that still lead to the same pages.

And all 90 of them start with TinyURL.com …

FREE EBOOKS

tinyurl.com/100freekindlebooks
Amazon’s 100 best-selling free ebooks are always available on this list (which is updated hourly!) And of course, the other side of the page also shows the 100 best-selling ebooks which are not free…

tinyurl.com/ObamaKindleInterview
Amazon’s interview with President Barack Obama, available as a free Kindle Single.

tinyurl.com/AgathaChristieEbooks
All the Kindle editions of Agatha Christie’s mysteries (one of which is free!)

tinyurl.com/BackOnMurder
My favorite free Kindle mystery — a 384-page detective novel following a police detective’s homicide investigation in Houston called Back on Murder.

tinyurl.com/MrToadEbook
Read the original adventures of Mr. Toad in The Wind in the Willows as a free Kindle ebook.


FREE LAUGHS FROM AMAZON

tinyurl.com/FunnyFakeAmazonReviews
Amazon’s own list of their favorite funny fake customer reviews.

tinyurl.com/MoreFunnyAmazonReviews
Amazon’s second list of their favorite funny customer reviews.

Horse Head Mask from Amazon



FREE COMIC BOOKS

tinyurl.com/SupermanOne
A free Kindle edition of Superman #1

tinyurl.com/freeGraphicNovel
Amazon’s free full-length “graphic novel” called Blackburn Burrow – a fascinating horror comic book set during the Civil War that you can read in color on your Kindle Fire or Android smartphone, or in black-and-white on the Paperwhite, the Kindle Touch, or the Kindle.

tinyurl.com/FreeKindleComicBooks
All of Amazon’s best-selling free Kindle comic books. (For a shortcut to all of Amazon’s Digital Kindle Comics, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks

tinyurl.com/ComicsNewsletter
Amazon’s free newsletter about digital comic books.


FREE AND DISCOUNTED MP3S

tinyurl.com/FreeMp3List
I love how Amazon is always giving away free mp3s — and you can always find a complete list at this URL!

tinyurl.com/GrammyMp3s
Grammy-winning songs — discounted as low as 69 cents

tinyurl.com/GrammyAlbumMp3s
Grammy-winning albums — discounted as low as $5.00

tinyurl.com/SuperBowlSongs
All the songs used in ads broadcast during the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans (when the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers )



Amazon Kindle 399 ebook sale

BARGAIN EBOOKS

tinyurl.com/399KindleEbooks
Every month, Amazon picks 100 ebooks to offer at a discount of $3.99 or less. There’s always a new selection on the first day of the month, so if you visited the page on the last day of the month, you’d see 100 discounted books — and then the next day you’d see an entirely new selection!

If you’re in England, Amazon’s created a different page for their bargain ebooks — go to tinyurl.com/399booksEngland

And if you’re in France, there’s also a different URL for your (English-language) bargain ebooks — it’s at tinyurl.com/399booksFrance
 
 
tinyurl.com/DailyKindleDeal
In addition, Amazon’s also created a special “Daily Deal” page, where they pick a new ebook each day to sell at a big discount for 24 hours. Past deals have included a James Bond novel by Ian Fleming and Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night — and I’m always surprised by the variety.

tinyurl.com/DailyDealsEmail
Amazon will also just e-mail you every “Daily Deal,” so you never have to worry about missing one of them!

tinyurl.com/EbookBigDeal
Amazon’s special selection of discounted Kindle ebooks

tinyurl.com/KindleSelect25
Each week Amazon highlights 25 more books

tinyurl.com/KindleMatch
Discounts on Kindle editions of book when you’ve already purchased their print edition

tinyurl.com/CheapThrillers
Amazon’s special selection of “international thrillers” — all priced at $4.99 or less


KINDLE SINGLES

tinyurl.com/AmazonKindleSingles
All of Amazon’s short, cheap “Kindle Single” ebooks

tinyURL.com/KingOnGuns
Last January Stephen King published a 25-page personal essay titled “Guns”, which he’s selling as a Kindle Single for 99 cents.


NEW KINDLES AND KINDLE FEATURES

tinyurl.com/KindleFires

Amazon’s newest high-definition color Kindle tablets

tinyurl.com/NewPaperwhite
In 2013 Amazon released a slick new, high-contrast version of their Kindle Paperwhite

tinyURL.com/KindleDX2013
Amazon also brought back their giant 9.7-inch black-and-white Kindle DX in 2013

tinyurl.com/KindleSending
Amazon’s free “Send-to-Kindle” plug-in for web browsers

tinyurl.com/CustomKindleCovers
Convert your own photos into a custom Kindle cover

tinyurl.com/KindleSerials
There’s a new format for Kindle ebooks called the “Kindle Serial.” Famous authors will now deliver new additional installments of their ebooks just as soon as they’ve finished writing them! The link above takes you to Amazon’s “Kindle Serials” store.

tinyurl.com/PrimeInstantVideo
If you’ve signed up for Amazon’s free “Prime” two-day shipping service, they’ll also let you watch a ton of movies and TV shows for free on your Kindle Fire! (Or over the internet…) Browse through the complete selection here – everything from the original episodes of Star Trek and The Twilight Zone to modern favorites like Bones and even new shows created by Amazon (including one starring John Goodman).



Roger Ebert - 1942 - 2013

FAVORITE AUTHORS

tinyurl.com/EbertEbooks
Roger Ebert left us in 2013 — but here’s the Kindle editions for all his ebooks.

tinyurl.com/KindleElmoreLeonard
Elmore Leonard also left us in 2013 — but here’s Kindle editions of all his books.

tinyurl.com/SuckersPortfolio
An exclusive new serialized collection of seven previously unpublished works by Kurt Vonnegut.

tinyurl.com/CatsCradleEbook
Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat Cradle.

tinyurl.com/KurtVonnegutEbooks
Every Kurt Vonnegut ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

tinyurl.com/BukowskiEbooks
Every Charles Bukowski ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

tinyurl.com/BillyTheKidAudiobook
My favorite audiobook — a drawling narrator reads To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West.

tinyurl.com/HungerGamesEbooks
Amazon’s discounted version of the Hunger Games trilogy

tinyurl.com/BrightBooks
Classic children’s picture book revived by the loving granddaughter of author/illustrator Robert S. Bright

tinyurl.com/KindleCalvinAndHobbes
“The Essential Calvin & Hobbes” – released as a Kindle ebook in November of 2013

tinyurl.com/DilbertEbooks
My favorite newspaper comic strip is Dilbert, about the life of an office cubicle worker. In 2012, creator Scott Adams finally collected all the comic strips together into a series of ebooks that you can buy for your Kindle!

tinyurl.com/DoonesburyEbook
Doonesbury, the long-running newspaper comic strip by Garry Trudeau, is now finally available on the Kindle — in four massive ten-year retrospective collections!

tinyurl.com/PlayboyEbooks
Playboy announced for their 50th anniversary that they’d release 50 of their best interviews as 99-cent Kindle ebooks. They’re now available in the Kindle Store, including fascinating and sometimes even historic interviews with famous figures from the last 50 years, including Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Ali, Bill Gates, Hunter S. Thompson, Stephen Hawking, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jon Stewart.

TinyURL.com/TakeiBook
George Takei is the 75-year-old TV actor who’d played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek. But now he’s also a huge internet phenomenon — and last December, he finally released his first Kindle ebook, called Oh myy! (There Goes the Internet)

tinyurl.com/KindleSimpsons
The Simpson’s once made a joke about the Kindle — though ironically, there are aren’t any ebooks about The Simpsons anywhere in Amazon’s Kindle store – or any ebooks by Matt Groening. But at least you can watch episodes of the Simpsons TV show on your Kindle Fire tablet or on Amazon’s “Instant Video” page — including the episode where they make their joke about the Kindle!

tinyurl.com/HarryPotterKindle
One of the biggest stories of last year was the release of all J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels as Kindle ebooks.

Two Maurice Sendak URLs
Where the Wild Things Are was written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, a beloved children’s book author who died in 2012 at the age of 83. Though his books were never released in Kindle Format, you can still download the full-length novel adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are that was written by Dave Eggers at tinyurl.com/SendakNovel. And you can even buy a DVD at Amazon of the rare 1970s adaptation of Sendak’s stories into television cartoons with narration by Peter Schickele — at tinyurl.com/SendakCartoons


A LOOK BACK: MORE FUN EBOOK LINKS

http://tinyurl.com/AmazonBooks2013
Amazon’s list of the top 100 best-selling Kindle ebooks for 2013

tinyurl.com/BestBooksOfTheMonth
Amazon’s Editors pick the best new books of the month

tinyurl.com/Top2012eBooks
At the end of last year, Amazon released this fun list of their top 100 best-selling Kindle ebooks of 2012.

tinyurl.com/BestBooksOf2012
There’s another list where Amazon’s editors also choose their selections for the “Best Books of 2012”. It’s a special web page with their picks in 30 different categories, including the best print books, the best Kindle ebooks, and the best biographies, mysteries, and even cookbooks!

tinyurl.com/2011Amazon
Curious about what were Amazon’s best-selling books for 2011? This URL takes you to a special Amazon web page where they’re all still listed — 25 to a page — along with a link to a separate list for the best-selling ebooks of the year. The #1 best-selling print book of 2011 was the new biography about Steve Jobs (followed by “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever.” ) But the #1 and #2 best-selling ebooks were The Mill River Recluse and The Abbey — neither of which was even available in print!

You can also review Amazon’s picks for the best books of the autumn of 2011 at tinyurl.com/AmazonFallBooks. And here’s an even handier trick. Amazon also creates a special page each month for the best newly-released books, and they’ll always take you to that page if you point your browser to the URL tinyurl.com/BestBooksOfMay



Amazon office building in Seattle

AMAZON’S CUSTOMER SUPPORT

tinyurl.com/kindle-cs
Amazon’s Customer Service has drawn rave reviews. (If your Kindle is broken, Amazon will usually mail you a replacement overnight!) This page collects all of Amazon’s support URLs. And at its far left, there’s a special link labelled “Contact Kindle Support,” which leads to the support phone numbers for 10 different countries, as well as an online contact form.

tinyurl.com/ReturnAnEbook
Amazon lets you return any ebook within 7 days, no questions asked. Just remember this address — tinyURL.com/ReturnAnEbook — and you’ll always be able to get a refund if you’re not satisfied with your purchase.


MY EBOOKS AND GAMES

It’s my list, so of course it includes shortcuts for three very special projects…

TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel
An original word game for Kindle became one of the top 100 most-popular games for the year — and I’m it’s co-author! Check out all the fun at TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel, and discover why 42 people gave it a five-star review! And we’ve just released a brand-new sequel which you can see at TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel2

tinyurl.com/500Quotes
My very first Android app — “500 Inspiring Quotes”. (Available in Amazon’s Android store, and also in the Nook and Google Play Store)

TinyURL.com/TurkeyBook
“For Thanksgiving, try this game. Find the guilty turkey’s name!”

I wrote a special “mystery poem” that was finally published in November as a funny, illustrated ebook. There’s cartoon-y pictures which show four turkeys in a farmer’s pen on Thanksgiving Day. The farmer’s approaching with an axe — but one of the turkeys has a plan to escape! (“Can the farmer figure out which one? And can you?”) The short “Turkey Mystery Rhyme” is only 99 cents — a real bargain for a fun, holiday smile.

tinyurl.com/OurFunnyDog
Lucca is a cuddly Cocker Spaniel dog who was rescued from an animal shelter, and he now adores his new family — my girlfriend and me! My girlfriend’s been telling her friends how she received “the best present ever” — this short collection of funny photos of her dog, along with sweetly humorous captions that tell the story of his life. (Like the day he met that white cat that moved in downstairs…) If you want to preview a “sample chapter first, go to tinyurl.com/GoodReadsDog — but the whole “short picture scrapbook” is only 99 cents, and it offers a nice peek at a very wonderful dog…


GAMES

tinyurl.com/FreeAmazonApps.
Amazon’s Android app store offers a free app every day — both for your Kindle Fire tablet and for any Android smartphone.

tinyurl.com/allkindlegames
Amazon has a web page devoted just to all the games you can play on your Kindle. (There’s over 400 of them!) It’s fun to see all the colorful game “covers” collected together into one magical toy store-like page.

tinyurl.com/kchess
Here’s the shortcut to a free web page where you can play chess against a computer. But you can also pull the page up in your Kindle’s web browser, so I named the URL “KChess”!


Free Kindle Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine cover illustration

FREE AND DISCOUNTED KINDLE MAGAZINES

tinyurl.com/FreeSciFiMag
Fantasy & Science Fiction is the famous magazine where Stephen King first published the stories that later formed the basis for The Dark Tower. It’s now available as a free Kindle magazine. It’s been publishing short SciFi stories and commentary for over 60 years — including the works of many other famous authors. In 1978 they published Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” short stories, and in 1959 they ran Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” as a serial. (They also published the novella “Flowers for Algernon” and short stories by Harlan Ellison, and even published a short story by Kurt Vonnegut in 1961, which later appeared in his collection “Welcome to the Monkey House.”) Amazon’s now offering free Kindle subscriptions to a special “digest edition”. (The print edition, published six times a year, is a massive 256 pages.) The digest includes all the editorial content – editor’s recommendations, the “odd books” section, film and book reviews, plus cartoons and ‘Coming Attractions’ (highlights of each issue) – along with one short story. (And if you want the full 256-page version sent to your Kindle, you can subscribe for just 99 cents more.)

tinyurl.com/FreeKindleMagazine
Amazon once gave away free “trial issues” of the Kindle edition for several magazines earlier — and now the same URL points to a page where you can always download free magazine apps! The apps deliver full-color magazine content straight to your Kindle Fire — or to your Android smartphone. There’s one for each of these six popular magazines.

     Entertainment Weekly
     Real Simple
     National Geographic
     Time
     Better Homes and Gardens
     People

tinyurl.com/KindleMagazineDeals
Deliver magazines to your Kindle at a big discount


A VERY SPECIAL KINDLE BLOG

tinyurl.com/MeAndMyKindle
It’s my blog! (That’s the URL for its page on the Kindle Store.) If you want to tell your friends how to find me, this URL makes it easy to remember. Just practice saying “TinyURL . com/MeAndMyKindle” and soon we’ll all be sharing the latest Kindle news together.


KINDLES ON TV

I love Amazon’s Kindle TV ads — and you can watch them all online at YouTube.com/Kindle. One of my favorite ones is this British commercial for the Kindle and the Kindle Touch, at tinyurl.com/UKKindleAd

tinyurl.com/KindleFireSong
There was a spectacular new TV ad when Amazon announced their new Kindle Fire tablets. It showed the evolution of print from a quill pen dipped in ink to Amazon’s latest full-color multimedia touchscreen tablet. But I loved the song they played in the background, by a new Louisiana-based band called the Givers. (“The words we say today, we’ll say… we’ll see them again. Yes, we’ll see them again…”) I’d called it an ode to all the self-published authors who are finding new audiences on the Kindle — and at this URL, you can hear the entire song on YouTube!


tinyurl.com/AmyRutberg
Before she became “the woman from that Kindle commercial,” actress Amy Rutberg appeared in a zany stage production called “The Divine Sister.” Playbill (the official magazine for theatre-goers) had her record a backstage peek at the theatre and its cast for a special online feature — and it’s a fun way to catch a peek at another part of her career. That URL leads to the video’s web page on YouTube, and there’s also a second part which is available at http://tinyurl.com/AmyRutberg2

tinyurl.com/KindleChristmasSong
It’s that cute song from Amazon’s 2010 Kindle Christmas ad. (“Snowflake in my pocket, let’s take a sleigh ride on the ice…”) At this URL, you can download an mp3 of the song “Winter Night” by Little & Ashley.

tinyurl.com/StewartBorders
On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart did a special segment in 2011 when Borders bookstores announced that it was going out of business. (“Books! You may know them as the thing Amazon tells you ‘You might be interested in’ when you’re buying DVDs…”) Correspondent John Hodgman delivered some silly suggestions about how bookstores could re-vitalize their business model — like offering in-store appearances where customers could heckle authors while they’re writing novels. Or, simply converting bookstores into historical tourist attractions demonstrating the way books used to be sold in the 20th century.


MISCELLANEOUS

tinyurl.com/kindlemap
Ever wonder where all the Kindle owners are? Someone’s created an interactive online map, where Kindle owners can stop by and leave “push pins” showing their location! There’s big clusters on the east and west coast of America (though you could still leave the first push pin for Arizona or Nevada!) It’s an adapted version of one of Google’s maps of the world, so you can also spot “Kindlers” in Iraq, Romania, and Ethiopia. And if you click on the push pins, you’ll find the Kindler’s name and sometimes a comment. (One Kindler in Spain simply posted: “Tengo un Kindle DX!”)

tinyurl.com/GoldBoxPage
Every day Amazon also offers discounts on a new item — sometimes even expensive electronics equipment. And you can always find them all at tinyurl.com/GoldBoxPage

tinyurl.com/BurningTheBook
A new ebook by the Amazon manager who was in charge of the Kindle on the day it launched!


And here’s the most useful URL of all.

tinyurl.com/90KindleURLs

It’s a shortcut to this page — so you can find all of these URLs in 2014!

Happy New Year!

More Special Deals from Amazon

The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson back cover

Amazon is giving away a Calvin & Hobbes collection as a Kindle ebook for just $10.99. It’s just one of several special deals they’re offering today, as a kind of welcome to new Kindle owners. And Amazon’s also giving away big discounts on hundreds of digital videos!


For shortcuts, point your browser to these URLs:

tinyurl.com/KindleCalvinAndHobbes

tinyurl.com/AmazonDecemberVideo


There’s also a collection of Snoopy cartoons by Charles M. Schulz that Amazon’s selling as a Kindle ebook for just $7.99. It’s about Snoopy as a surfer, so its title is “Cowabunga!” You can even read it on a black-and-white e-ink Kindle, though the colorful comic strip pictures will display in full digital color if your read it on a Kindle Fire. It’s over 200 pages long, so it’s a nice way to get a new look at a favorite, familiar character…


Snoopy surfing book - cover of Cowabunga


There’s also some other great discounts if you poke around through Amazon today. For example, each season of the TV show Community has been discounted to just $17.99 in Amazon’s “Instant Video” store. You can watch every episode in high-definition video on your Kindle Fire tablet — or in Amazon’s video apps, or even online in your web browser. And “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” has been discounted to just $7.99. (Also in high-definition!) You can buy a collection of 24 shorts by The Three Stooges for just $8.99 — or the original 1971 movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — and the original version of The Sound of Music is now just $9.99.

To browse all the deals, go to
tinyurl.com/AmazonDecemberVideo

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Movie


Enjoy your holiday weekend!


For shortcuts, point your browser to these URLs:

tinyurl.com/KindleCalvinAndHobbes

tinyurl.com/AmazonDecemberVideo


Free Comic Books on the Kindle — and More

Free Kindle Comic Books include Superman

I just discovered several free comic books in Amazon’s Kindle Store. D.C. Comics is giving away a free issue of Superman by John Byrne — a “famous first” issue from 1987, released as issue #1 when the publisher “re-booted” all the story lines in their comics. But there’s also some “special preview” editions of several comics in the Kindle Store, and Amazon’s also giving away a free comic book of their own, a supernatural “horror” comic that’s set during the Civil War. Plus, Amazon’s also just announced a new tool that will let you draw your own comic books for the Kindle!

For shortcuts, just point your web browser to:

tinyurl.com/SupermanOne
tinyurl.com/freeGraphicNovel

Amazon’s comic book is called Blackburn Burrow, and they’ve released four free issues since it first launched in September. (It’s about a reknowned fighter of the supernatural, who has to confront new rumors about the walking dead…) But in an interesting move, Amazon’s letting the readers pick the plot twists! “Each release will be accompanied by a poll…that encourages readers to give feedback and provide comments,” explains the comic’s web site.

I wondered if there’d be any more free comics in the Kindle Store besides Superman #1 and Blackburn Burrow — and that’s when I discovered that the comic book publishers were way ahead of me. D.C. Comics now releases special “preview editions” of their hot new releases. For example, for the new Batman: Earth One series, they’ve released a free 15-page sampler (which also includes 6 more pages from Batman Volume 1: The Court of Owls.) And D.C. has also begun releasing a regular free comic book that includes lots of samples from around their whole “universe” of characters. It’s called “D.C. Comic Digital Sneak Peeks”, and several issues have made it into the top 20 on Amazon’s list of the best-selling free comic books…

Amazon’s actually started a new list of the top 100 best-selling free Kindle comic books. For an easy-to-remember shortcut, just point your browser to:

tinyurl.com/FreeKindleComicBooks

But you could be the author of the Kindle’s next best-selling comic book — at least, according to a special announcement that Amazon made last week. Their “Kindle Publishing Team” snuck into Amazon’s online forum for digital publishers, and announced the surprise launch of the Kindle Comic Creator, “a free tool for authors & publishers to turn their comics, graphic novels and manga into great looking Kindle books.” It includes all the layout tools you’d need for a comic book, including two-space spreads and the ability to import artwork from the standard image file formats (like .jpg, .png, .tiff and .ppm), and once a self-published artist/author is satisfied with their comic, Amazon’s inviting them to “share their story with millions of Amazon customers worldwide.”

Wouldn’t it be great if an undiscovered amateur fiction writer ended up creating the next great superhero?

Superman Comes to the Kindle

Cover of Superman - Action Comics 1 - 2011 - Grant Morrison - Kindle Fire

“From Batman to Superman,” Amazon announces on a new web page, “individual issues of your favorite comics are now available on Kindle.” And many of them cost just 99 cents — which is actually cheaper than the printed comic books! It’s a new direction for Amazon, and it may offer a hint about their hopes for the next generation of Kindles.

Check out Amazon’s complete selection at tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks

I’m surprised that these single-issue comics are only listed as available for the Kindle Fire and Android devices, since it’s also possible to read graphic novels on the Kindle Paperwhite and the regular $69 Kindle. But I’m guessing Amazon will extend their availability sometime in the near future — and in the meantime, I’ll be enjoying single issues of comic books using the Kindle app for my smartphone. Graphics seem to be a new priority for Amazon, maybe because they’re hoping to compete with Apple’s iPad tablets. Amazon’s release notes for their “Kindle for Android” app already brag that it supports “illustrated children’s books, comic books, and graphic novels, including fixed-layout books.”

Now with single-issue comic books, Amazon is trying to open up a whole new “category” of things you can download to your Kindle. Most of the titles are from D.C. Comics — I’m seeing Green Lantern, the Justice League, Batman, and a series called “Arrow” (following the character Green Arrow/Oliver Queen.) But I was also intrigued to see Swamp Thing and J. Michael Straczynski’s Before Watchmen: Moloch #1″. Amazon’s only showing 69 different comic books now that you can buy for your Kindle — but I’m guessing that’s because Amazon’s just opened this online store. In the months to come, they should be selling both new issues and back issues, which should expand the selection quite a bit.

In fact, every single one of the titles from D.C. Comics will be available for the Kindle, according to a press release last Wednesday. And they’ll also be available through Apple’s iBookstore and the Nook Store. “As e-readers and tablets continue to explode in popularity, it’s important for us to offer consumers convenience and choice in how they download digital comics and graphic novels,” said an executive from D.C. Publishing, “and these new distribution deals with the top three e-bookstores do just that.”

Right now I’m just happy that they’re headed in that direction – because there’s still a geek inside of me who enjoys reading comic books. There’s been a debate in the comic book industry about how the big publishers can increase their sales. But maybe Amazon’s offering their own answer: that comic books should “go digital”.

Check out Amazon’s selection at tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks

Single Issue Comic Books for Kindle Fire and Android

A Free Graphic Novel from Amazon! And a Movie?!

Blackburn Burrow - free Amazon graphic novel

Amazon’s just announced that they’re giving away a free graphic novel that you can read on your Kindle. It’s a good story — a supernatural “horror” comic that’s set during the Civil War — and you can download the whole thing to your Kindle at tinyurl.com/freeGraphicNovel

But it looks like Amazon has even bigger plans…

“If we made this comic into a full-budget feature film, would you go see it?” Amazon asks on the first page of the graphic novel. The graphic novel (and the possible movie) are both the brainchild of Amazon Studios, the new “content development division” launched at Amazon in November of 2010. In the last two years, they’ve pored through more than 10,000 possible movie screenplays, according to Amazon’s press release, and they ultimately settled on just 17 finalists (along with nine possible TV series). “Community feedback, gathered from Amazon Studios’ crowdsourcing model, triggered the idea for [this] popular project to be adapted into a digital comic that would be shared with audiences for feedback and tested for viability as a major motion picture.”

But either way, Kindle owners get a free (and original) graphic novel to read on their Kindles. There’s some comic-book gore, but I’ve always loved the way graphic novels look on the screen of my Kindle Fire. (“Virginia, 1864…” begins the narration on the first page.) I love the moody colors — the brown and orange sky, the leafless trees, the shadowy columns of a plantation mansion — and especially, the clean, crisp colors of the pictures. But you don’t even need a Kindle Fire to see the color pictures, because it’s also compatible with Amazon’s Kindle apps for handheld devices like the iPad and Android phones – and you can also read the comic book online!

It’ll even be compatible with Amazon’s new Kindle Paperwhite devices when they finally start arriving next month — and I’m impressed by the team Amazon lined up to create the final product. It’s being written by Ron Marz, who’s written dialogue for major comic book titles like Marvel’s Silver Surfer and DC’s Green Lantern, and it’s illustrated by Matthew Dow Smith, who’s worked on popular titles like X-Men Icons and Doctor Who. “Beyond entertaining lots of comic fans, we see value in digital comics as a new way to test screenplays and learn more about fan engagement,” explained Roy Price, the Director of Amazon Studios, in last week’s announcement. “The ’12 Gauge’ team has done beautiful work on the Blackburn Burrow digital comic and we are thrilled to share it with audiences to see how they react to the story of Blackburn Burrow.”

Amazon even plans to release a new issue of the comic every four weeks, as a way to test how audiences are enjoying the story. “This is a very exciting new venture for Amazon Studios,” says Roy Price, and it looks like some of Amazon’s customers agree. “It is clear to me that either Amazon contracted with Ron Marz to make this comic to show off the new comic capabilities of the new Fire devices, or Ron Mars is trying to leverage Kindle for something big.

“This comic is way too good for the free bin….”

The Worst Kindle eBooks Ever Written

Amazon's worst Kindle ebooks

I was stunned when I read it. The ebook was only a few pages long — and nearly all of its text had been cut-and-pasted from somewhere else. Specifically, it came from Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia with a page about nearly everything — and everyone. Someone had looked up a popular celebrity, then transformed their Wikipedia page into a biography that they were selling as a digital ebook. For $18.95…

In my case, the celebrity was Charlie Sheen — but he’s not the only celebrity to be “honored” with a skimpy ebook biography. Amazon’s Kindle Store is filled with millions of wonderful books, but mixed into the virtual bookshelves are also hundreds of “quickies” which barely match the definition of a book. It’s a real shock when you first realize just how bad an ebook can get — and how far an author will go to earn a fast buck. In July, one blogger even discovered an author named George Andersen who’s produced nearly 900 different “derivative” ebooks in a quickie series that’s called “WikiFocus”.

Apparently this author cranked out 887 tiny tomes that were cut-and-pasted from Wikipedia about random topics that they’d hoped would be popular — including celebrities, TV shows, and even comic book characters. There’s small “WikiFocus” ebooks about Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and Green Lantern — but also separate ebooks about lesser superheros like Supergirl, Catwoman, Aquaman, and the Archie comic strip! (Is the series a strange glimpse into the author’s psyche, or just an intense burst of pop culture paparazzi-ism?) Celebrities also got their own quickie ebooks, including Justin Bieber, Hulk Hogan, Eminem, and Hello Kitty. The author even tried writing a quickie ebook about the Flintstones cartoon series — but spelled “Flintstone” wrong in the ebook’s title!

Of the 887 ebooks, all but 10 earned terrible reviews, averaging one star or less — or received no reviews at all.


“This ‘book’ is just a word for word copy of the wikipedia page…”

“Total waste of money. Much shorter than any WIKI article.”

“It ends after 31/32 percent. The rest is just references.”

“worthless…a half cup of coffee would have been more worthwhile…I cannot prove it, but I seriously believe this is a 5th grader’s book report being peddled as ‘a commentary.'”

And there was even something suspicious about the 10 ebooks which earned positive reviews. Seven of the reviews were written by the same person — who had only written seven reviews, all of them about the WikiFocus series. And most of them were just a few sentences long — all of them enthusiastic, and all of them sounding generic.


“Highly recommended for anyone with an interest…”

“this is absolutley [sic] the book for you. Highly recommended…”

Most of these reviews received very negative ratings from other Amazon users. (“2 of 18 people found the following review helpful,” Amazon warns about one, which gushed that “all of the WikiFocus books I have read have been awesome material…”) That review even drew some nasty follow-up comments from other Amazon reviewers. (“You’re obviously just part of the SPAM machine, pimping out these shoddy publications that are just scrapes of free sources and sold to unsuspecting people. What a sad life you must lead…”) But undaunted, the WikiFocus fan continued leaving more positive reviews for other books in the series. (“I am not sure what the other reviewer was looking at, but this is a GREAT eBook…”)

Almost all of the “ebooks” sell for $1.99, and I was sad when I saw one reviewer who’d written “I wish i could get my money back.” You can get your money back! Amazon’s Kindle Store always let you return any ebook within seven days of purchasing it, according to Amazon’s official “Kindle Return Policies” page.


“Content you purchase from the Kindle Store is eligible for return and refund if we receive your request within 7 days of the date of purchase… To request a refund and return, click the Customer Service button in the Contact Us box in the right-hand column of this page to reach us via phone or e-mail.”

To help dissatisfied readers to reach that page, I’ve created a shorter URL — tinyurl.com/ReturnAnEbook — which should be easier to remember. I remember the reviewer who wrote “This book is a total waste of money.” If you really feel that way — go and get your money back!

If everyone did that, these authors wouldn’t have any reason to keep cranking out these quickie ebooks!

Jonah Hex on the Kindle?!

Jonah Hex comic vs movie

So I was the first guy in line to see “Jonah Hex” this afternoon. (Mainly because nobody was in line to see “Jonah Hex” this afternoon, except a trio of high school girls…) But I’d already read a bunch of the violent western comic books — and it got me to wondering if I could find any Jonah Hex content on my Kindle.

Turns out the answer was both yes and no. It was “No” in that searching the Kindle store returned the discouraging message that “Your search ‘jonah hex’ did not match any products…” But it was “Yes” in that as I curled up in my armchair and began wirelessly browsing the web, I eventually stumbled across a four-page preview of the newest Jonah Hex graphic novel.

And even though it was just released 10 days ago, there I was reading it on my Kindle, in all its hyper-violent western glory.


So it IS you! Folks say yore the fastest gun…

BLAMMM!

I’ve often thought about the lack of good illustrated material on the Kindle. (If you Google the Kindle store for Spider-Man, you’ll find the book adaptation of Spider-Man 3, but not, say, a comic book adaptation!) And granted, I was looking at color illustrations on a black-and-white display, and it was only four pages. (And yes, on the tiny screen of my Kindle 1, I couldn’t read the small text in that first balloon of narration.) But I still felt I’d achieved some kind of milestone.

I’d sat down to search on the Kindle for a specific comic book character. And eventually, I’d found it!