Amazon Slashes Prices on E-Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Amazon releases a new Kindle commercial – and more!

Girl in Amazon Kindle vs printed book ad

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

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


“Oh, I’m reading a real book.”

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

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

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

“My Kindle does that for me.”

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


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


“Wow. The screen looks amazing.”

“Yeah…”

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

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

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

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

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

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