Zombies on your Kindle for Halloween

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

I have a special holiday tradition. Each year around Halloween, I creep up on the Kindle Store, and take a peek at just how many ebooks have zombies in their title. And lately, zombies have started turning up in Kindle games! Last year I even asked in this blog, Are zombies taking over the Kindle? (“If you haven’t been paying attention, you may not have noticed the rising zombie invasion…”)

Amazingly, in September of 2011, there were 1,992 Kindle ebooks with the word “zombie” in their title. But by that Halloween, there were 277 more. And this year? The number of zombie titles has doubled again in less than a year. There are now 4,874 different ebooks in the Kindle Store with zombies in their title.

And there’s also several “Halloween” versions of some popular Kindle games. (As the author of a Kindle word game, it’s really fun for me to see game developers taking their established Kindle titles, and then updating them with special holiday editions.) For example, the makers of Slingo have come up with “Poker of the Dead” — which combines the challenges of the classic “Texas Hold ‘Em” card game with…zombies! It’s a seven-day tournament (with 10 hands per day), with a dramatic backstory adding the complication of an onslaught by the living dead. But fortunately, according to the game’s description, your zombie opponents “have no brains, never fold, and will always call your bet.” The phrase “winner takes all” gets a whole new meaning, but if you defeat all these poker-playing zombies, you’ll live to fight another day.

There’s also a spooky version of the Sudoku-like logic puzzle, Futoshiki. “Futoshiki Halloween Edition takes an eerie twist as witches and zombies take over in a graveyard game board,” warned the game’s page in the Kindle store. There’s a dangerous-looking tree in the background of the game board, and the top of the screen even includes the silhouette of a witch. But somehow, the stark contrast on the Kindle’s black-and-white screen seems to fit the holiday perfectly.

Kindle game Futoshiki - Halloween edition

There’s also a zombie-themed text adventure called “Choice of the Zombies”, plus a Halloween version of the game Blossom. This has always been one of my personal favorite Kindle games, and it’s fun to see it getting a holiday makeover. In the original version, you’d rotate squares in a grid to connect a network of pipes to make some flowers blossom. But in the Halloween edition, those restful flowers have been replaced by jack-o-lanterns — and instead of a watering can, they’re connecting to a black witch’s cauldron!

Kindle game Blossom - Screenshot of Halloween edition

And believe it or not, there’s now even a Halloween version of Mahjong Solitaire. “This game is so fun it’s scary!” reads its description in the Kindle Store, which promises to complement its 13 different layouts with two special Halloween tile sets. Their pictures include pumpkins, tombstones, and even something that looks like a smirking ghost. It usually costs $3.99, but today it’s on sale for just 99 cents. If you like Mahjong Solitaire, this looks like a fun novelty.

But zombies still keep stalking their into the Kindle Store, and it’s been a very strange journey. Last year one of the top 100 free ebooks in the Kindle Store was something called Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. But the real message may be that each Halloween, there’s more and more self-published authors who are writing zombie fiction. Even the Library of Congress only has 601 books with the word “zombie” in their title (up from 523 in 2011). Oh my god, run everybody — Amazon’s Kindle store now has eight times as many zombies!!!

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

Here’s some of the stranger ebooks.

Zombie Girl Invasion
Wesley and the Sex Zombies
Zombie Day Care/A>
The Scarlet Zombie Sketchbook #1

A Girl’s Guide To Falling In Love With A Zombie
Rock And Roll Reform School Zombies
My Life as A White Trash Zombie
The Zombie Attached To My Head

Zombie Lust and The New Flesh
How to Make Love like a Zombie
My Lovesick Zombie Boy Band
Lesbian Zombies Are Taking Over The World!

Trailerpark Zombies
Zombie Road Trip
Jesus vs. the Zombies of Perdition
Texas Biker Zombies From Outer Space

To be fair, “Texas Biker Zombies From Outer Space” is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, “intentionally designed to give the reader an interactive experience using the advantages over print that E-Books allow.” And Zombie Spaceship Wasteland was written by actor/comedian Patton Oswalt, using the horror movie monsters as a metaphor in a collection of essays “vividly evoking his zombie-like co-worker,” according to Booklist‘s review. Even 71-year-old literary author Joyce Carol Oates — twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize — named her 2009 novel Zombie (P.S.) It’s about a serial killer — named Zombie — who keeps a diary as he pursues his victims.

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

I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It
Married with Zombies
Zombie Blondes
Zombies Eat Lawyers

Confessions of a Zombie’s Wife
Slow and Sweet: A Love Story, With Zombies
Zombie Erotica: An Undead Anthology
Never Slow Dance with a Zombie

A Cold Dark School with Zombies at the Gates
Zombie Queen of Newbury High
Zombie Fight Song
Jesus Camp Zombie Bloodbath

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

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

I think zombies may have actually eaten his brains.

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

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

Road Kill: A Zombie Tale
I, Zombie
The Christian Zombie Killer’s Handbook
Zombie Hero #3: “Keep On Truckin”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zombies vs. Nazis
Don of the Dead: A Mafia Zombie Novel
The Zombie Cookbook
“Rednecks Who Shoot Zombies, on the Next Geraldo”

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

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

Dr. Zombie Lives Next Door
Zombies Ride Motorcycles
Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion
Zombies at the Bar Mitzvah

I’m not sure what to make of an ebook called James Joyce and the Zombie Priest, though it’s attracted at least one positive review on its web page at Amazon. (“If there is a better zombie version of Araby by James Joyce, it would be news to me!”) This trend probably all started when real-world bookstores started seeing big sales of a 2009 parody novel called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (crediting Jane Austen as a co-author). It rose to #3 on the New York Times best-seller list, according to Wikipedia, apparently spawning a new generation of even stranger zombie novels — and zombie ebooks. There’s even a Garrison Keillor parody called The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten that’s attributed to an author named Harrison Geillor. (“The humor in this parody lies in the simple truth that even a zombie bear with a hatchet in its head won’t faze a Minnesotan,” writes Publisher’s Weekly.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jasper, the Friendly Zombie
How I met Barbara the Zombie Hunter
The Student from Zombie Island
Zombie Joe and the Pogo Stick legs

Growing Up Zombie
Oh No, Our Best Friend is a Zombie!
Timothy Holbrook and the Zombie Curse
Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies

Zombie Mommy
Phredde and the Zombie Librarian
Day of the Field Trip Zombies
Mom and Dad Aren’t Getting Along (Now That Mom’s a Zombie)

Maybe they were also inspired by the success of the Twilight series of books about a vampire’s teenaged romance. (One ebook author has even written Vampire Among the Zombies.) But I had to laugh when I saw an ebook titled “Where are the Zombies?”

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

A Special Announcement for Kindle Paperwhite Owners

Kindle Paperwhite screenshot of Throw in the Vowel word game

The Kindle Paperwhite has only been available since early October, but there’s already a new game available for it — mine! Wednesday Amazon added our Kindle word game, “Throw in the Vowel,” to their list of games which are now also approved for the Kindle Paperwhite. I released the game with my business partner back in February, and it’s nice to see that our updates have finally paid off. There’s only 110 different games available now for the Kindle Paperwhite, but ours is one of them!

Check out the game at https://www.TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel

In two days, “Throw in the Vowel” has already become one of the Kindle Paperwhite’s top 30 best-selling games. (And of course, it’s also available for the Kindle Touch, the new Kindle, the older Kindle 2 and 3 “Kindle Keyboards, and even the Kindle DX.) But I’m excited for another reason. Some things really do look better on the Kindle Paperwhite’s glowing screen.

I’ve always said that one of my favorite things about our game was the way that it looked. Its background images show a magical mystery world where mists are shining, and there’s tantalizing words hovering just out of reach. There’s a glowing moon in the three-dimensional background, and a white light shining behind the name of the game. But now it’s a real glow — the light from the Kindle Paperwhite!

Kindle Paperwhite screenshot of Throw in the Vowel word game menu

We’d had to re-calculate the sizes of the letters too, so we ended up revealing even more of those pretty background images. I tell my friends that it’s almost a dream come true — literally! — since we’d imagined what that world was supposed to look like, and then made it shine out from the screen of the Kindle Paperwhite. Plus, the pixel count is higher on the Kindle Paperwhite, so you can see this little fantasy world in much greater detail. Now there’s even greater clarity for that light that’s shining on the columns, and the shimmering clouds in the sky.

When we released the game last February, we had no idea that Amazon would be releasing even more versions of the Kindle, but I feel like the Kindle Paperwhite is a perfect fit for “Throw in the Vowel”. To be fair, other games also look nicer on the Paperwhite’s glowing screen — and of course, they’re all much easier to play with a touchscreen interface. Our game is available on six different Kindles now — but I honestly feel that this is the best version yet.

It may just be a happy coincidence, but on the Kindle Paperwhite, “Throw in the Vowel” looks fantastic!

Visit the game’s page on Amazon at https://www.TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel

A 50% Discount on “Throw in the Vowel”!

Throw in the Vowel - a Kindle word game

It’s just 99 cents now to purchase the new Kindle word game, “Throw in the Vowel.” (I know, because I’m the game’s co-creator!) :) Take a look at this URL…


But I was really excited to see new five-star reviews piling up for the game. It’s gotten 16 of them so far, from all around the country — from Alabama, Florida, California, Kentucky, Oregon… Those five-star reviews have helped to make it one of Amazon’s top-rated Kindle games — we’re actually two ranks above Yahtzee — and it’s always a thrill for me to read what other people are saying.

“I find myself unable to put it down…” wrote the reviewer in Louisville.

“This game is one of the neatest and most different I have ever done… Definitely a great word game if you are not into crosswords and get tired of word search.

Here’s a screenshot showing how the game actually looks. (I almost cried when I saw how beautiful the background image was, thanks to our very talented graphic designer…)

Throw in the Vowel Kindle game screenshot

I spent over a year creating this game with my business partner, Dr. Jeffrey Prince, so it was really rewarding to finally see actually people playing with what we’d built – and enjoying it! “If you love word games, you’ll love this!” wrote a reviewer in Pennsylvania, who said it became “one of my favorite Kindle games.” And Len Edgerly, the podcaster behind the popular “Kindle Chronicles” online broadcasts, described it as “Invigorating fun with words.”

“Throw in the Vowel is made to order for taking a break that refreshes and entertains. Highly recommended!”

We just launched the game this spring, but we didn’t release the Kindle Touch version until just this June! And right now our game is still one of Amazon’s top-50 best-selling Kindle games! (In fact, it’s now the #5,097 best-selling item in the entire Kindle Store!) I’m actually not sure how many days this special 99-cent offer is going to last, so this is your best opportunity to see what everyone’s getting so excited about it. As we ask on the game’s web page at Amazon…

Can you “Throw in the Vowel”? :D

Check out the game and its five-star reviews at

The 30 Most Useful Kindle URLs

Digital Publishing vs. the Gutenberg press

Once a year, I assemble my “master list” of shortcuts to the 30 most useful pages for Kindle owners – like all of the free ebooks and blogs that Amazon’s making available. But instead of trying to memorize a bunch of complicated URLs, I’ve created these shorter, easier-to-remember addresses that still lead to the same pages.

And all 30 of them start with TinyURL.com …


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…


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 this Saturday (December 31st), you’d see December’s 100 discounted books — and then on Sunday (January 1st), 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

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. For Christmas, Amazon discounted five holiday-themed romance novels to just 99 cents each, and they also slashed the price on “Call Me Mrs. Miracle” (from $12.99 to just 99 cents). Once they even discounted So Now You’re a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead!

You can also see past “Daily Deals” on their Twitter feed at twitter.com/kindledailydeal — or on Facebook at facebook.com/kindledeals. And there’s also a new web page where they’re archiving the deals at http://thekindledailydeal.com/


What were Amazon’s best-selling books for 2011? This URL takes you to a special Amazon web page where they’re all 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 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!


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.

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.


It’s my list, so of course it includes shortcuts for two very special ebook projects that I worked on this year…

“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.

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! Since I released this ebook just before Christmas, 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…


Amazon actually publishes six free blogs for the Kindle — and you can find them all at this URL. Besides their Omnivoracious book blog, there’s also a blog about food (and fine dining) called “Al Dente,” and a blog about movies and TV shows called “Armchair Commentary”. If you’re into automobiles, Amazon offers the “Car Lust” blog, and there’s even a blog called “Toy Whimsy” with reviews and information about — what else? — toys!

They’re all available at the URL — but you can also get all of Amazon’s free blogs delivered to your Kindle in just one big super-subscription. Just look for the Amazon Daily blog — which is a great way to try them all out and see which ones you like best!

Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine has been publishing short SciFi stories and commentary for over 60 years — including the works of many 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.)


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.


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 a free mp3 of the song “Winter Night” by Little &Ashley.

Amazon also released 25 free Christmas songs as part of a special promotion in December. Their “25 Days of Free” page features 25 different mp3 files that you can download for free — each one with a different Christmas song — and right now they’re still available online. There’s songs by Bing Crosby, Mannheim Steamroller, the Irish Tenors, and Celtic Woman — plus songs by more modern artists like Brian Wilson, and Macy Gray. And there’s even some Christmas songs by groups like the Flaming Lips, Shonen Kinfe, and even one by Twisted Sister.

Amazon’s also offering discounts if you’d like to buy a whole album’s worth of Christmas songs by your favorite artist. This page offers Christmas albums that have been discounted to just $4.99, including a great selection of both traditional and modern recordings. There’s Christmas with the Rat Pack (and 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.” But 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 of course — the Twisted Sister Christmas album).


Amazon has a web page devoted just to all the games you can play on your Kindle. (There’s over 200 of them!) It’s fun to see all the colorful game “covers” collected together into one magical toy store-like page.

And there’s also a list of the 100 best-selling games for the Kindle — plus a list of all “Hot New Releases” — at tinyurl.com/TopKindleGames. (For the Christmas season, Amazon’s 25 most-popular games are still on sale for just 99 cents each, including Scrabble, Monopoly, and the new Kindle version of Battleship!)

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”!


Amazon’s latest ad shows a woman arriving home and discovering that Amazon’s delivered her new Kindle Fire tablet. The ad’s official name is “Placing the Things You Love at Your Fingertips,” and you can watch the whole thing on YouTube if you point your computer’s web browser to this URL.

And you can watch all of Amazon’s Kindle TV ads at YouTube.com/Kindle

Their 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!

This summer Amazon also ran a fun series of TV ads where a blonde woman insists she prefers things like “the rewarding feeling of actually folding down the page” of a book instead of reading a Kindle — though each ad invariably ends with her borrowing her friend’s Kindle instead.

But in September, when Amazon announced their new line-up of Kindles — including one for just $79 — they released one final ad where that blonde woman finally buys a Kindle for herself. To watch it on YouTube, point your computer’s browser to tinyurl.com/SheBuysAKindle

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

On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart did a special segment this year 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.


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 Montana 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!”)

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.

    Trivial Pursuit
    Texas Hold’em

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!

A Free Holiday Game From Amazon – and More!

Amazon Kindle game Picture Perfect Holiday Puzzles menu screenshot

I’m always amazed at how many new games keep coming to the Kindle Store. Now there’s another free game from Amazon designed especially for the upcoming 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 an 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.”

The new game is “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!!!!!!!”) This makes the 14th free game that Amazon has released, and it’s a “sequel” to a free game Amazon released in July 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.

The July version had 50 different picture grids — but now Amazon’s created 35 more puzzles, and each picture has a fun holiday theme. (The puzzles are grouped into six categories: Winter Begins, Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Continues, Kwanzaa, and New Years.) “This is just as addictive as the original Pixel Perfect,” reads one review of the game at Amazon.com. “I decided to pace myself so I could stretch the fun over a few days. That lasted 3 days. Oh well.”

“With reset, the pictures are erased and I can work through the puzzles again. Maybe, I can stretch the fun to last for a week!”

But several more new games have also been released for the Kindle in just the last month. In October Electronic Arts unveiled a Kindle version of the popular “Trivial Pursuit” game. (When the board game version was first released in the early 1980s, it sold over 20 million copies in just one year, according to Wikipedia.) The new $4.99 Kindle version — called “Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition” — still has the same familiar board design (a six-spoked wheel), and your score is still tracked using the wedges of a pie. Some Amazon reviewers are complaining that there’s too many “Entertainment” questions that have slipped into other categories — but the game’s description on Amazon promises there’s 1,500 new questions — and you can play the game by yourself, or with others using the “pass and play” mode.

Of course, there’s competing trivia games already available on the Kindle, including Triviac (a quiz game released in Oct 18) and It’s All About Sports — a brand new game that was just released on November 8. And offering a new twist, there’s also trivia game that seems to alternate trick questions with easier questions — called Moron-o-meter. “A clever blend of serious, not-at-all serious and downright tricky questions will be asked,” warns the game’s description at Amazon.com, “in an attempt to bamboozle you into thinking you might be a moron.”

And besides games, there’s also been a couple useful new applications that have been released for the Kindle — including two spreadsheet programs. Anywhere Spreadsheet was released on Oct 4, and less than a month later, another company released EFRAC spreadsheet. And there’s also a new Day Planner and Calendar app that was released for the Kindle in September, along with a similar app that’s called “Task List professional.” September saw the release of an Address Book app, plus another one called Contacts. And if you’d like to look up nutritional information, there’s even a new app called “MyFood.”

I’m guessing there must be close to 200 games now available on the Kindle — and it seems like more and more are released every month. If you’d like to check for any new games that you might’ve missed, Amazon’s created a special web page where they’re announcing all the new games as they’re released. (Just point your computer’s web browser to tinyurl.com/TopKindleGames )

I’ve always thought of the holidays as the perfect time to take some time off and play. And now it’s finally possible to do some of that playing on a Kindle!

New Halloween Games for the Kindle

Kindle game Futoshiki - Halloween edition

It’s two weeks until Halloween, but the holiday is already having a strange effect on the game section of the Kindle Store. There’s several new “Halloween” versions of some popular Kindle games. And Amazon has also released yet another free mystery game of their own!

It’s fun to see game developers taking their established Kindle titles, and updating them with special Halloween editions. The best-selling game in the Kindle Store right now is the “Ultimate Halloween Quiz” — and it’s one of the top-40 best-selling items in the entire Kindle store! HandyX has already created seven other “interactive quiz” games, but this one promises questions about monsters, magic, and other October-appropriate topics. “Do you know Mary Shelley from Marilyn Manson, or Freddy from Jason…?” asks the game’s description at Amazon.com “Questions topics include horror movies, Halloween facts, scary novels, gruesome history, magical creatures, myths and legends. Halloween will never be the same!”

And there’s also a spooky new version of the Sudoku-like logic puzzle, Futoshiki. “Futoshiki Halloween Edition takes an eerie twist as witches and zombies take over in a graveyard game board,” warns the game’s page in the Kindle store. There’s a dangerous-looking tree in the background of the game board, and the top of the screen even includes the silhouette of a witch. But somehow, the stark contrast on the Kindle’s black-and-white screen seems to fit the holiday perfectly.

Both those games were released just last Wednesday — and there’s also a new Halloween version of the game Blossom. This has always been one of my personal favorite Kindle games, and it’s fun to see it getting a holiday makeover. In the original version, you’d rotate squares in a grid to connect a network of pipes to make some flowers blossom. But in the Halloween edition, those restful flowers have been replaced by jack-o-lanterns — and instead of a watering can, they’re connecting to a black witch’s cauldron!

Kindle game Blossom - Screenshot of Halloween edition

And believe it or not, there’s now even a Halloween version of Mahjong Solitaire. “This game is so fun it’s scary!” reads its description in the Kindle Store, which promises to complement its 13 different layouts with two special Halloween tile sets. Their pictures include pumpkins, tombstones, and even something that looks like a smirking ghost. At $3.99, it’s one of the more expensive Kindle games — but if you like Mahjong Solitaire, this looks like a fun novelty.

And there’s one more new game in the Kindle Store with a special connection to Halloween. The makers of Slingo have just come up with “Poker of the Dead” — which combines the challenges of the classic “Texas Hold ‘Em” card game with…zombies! It’s a seven-day tournament (with 10 hands per day), with a dramatic backstory adding the complication of an onslaught by the living dead. But fortunately, according to the game’s description, your zombie opponents “have no brains, never fold, and will always call your bet.” The phrase “winner takes all” gets a whole new meaning, but if you defeat all these poker-playing zombies, you’ll live to fight another day.

Amazon’s newest free game isn’t quite as creepy — but they’ve taken a classic logic puzzle and given it a nice Kindle adaptation. “Grid Detective” recreates those story problems you may remember from puzzle magazines — where, for example, there’s four people receiving four kittens that are four different colors. So who got which kitten? The game offers a series of cryptic clues — but you can “crack the case” if you carefully track them all, and also make the right inferences. In the paper-and-pencil version, you’d have to draw your own grid to keep track of all your deductions, but Amazon’s made this game much simpler to play by creating their own detailed interface. It may not be the most mysterious game ever, but the whole “intrigue” theme seem appropriate for Halloween.

Are we seeing a trend of things to come? Next month will we see special Thanksgiving editions of games for the Kindle — and even more versions for other holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Days? My crystal ball remains hazy, but I do think this is more significant than it seems. Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets will include lots of homegrown apps from outside developers, so there’ll eventually be hundreds of extra brains trying to dream up new ways to entertain us. Maybe this is our first taste of what that future will be like.

But whatever happens, I’m glad to see that there’s already independent Kindle developers out there who are dreaming up their own fun new ways to use a Kindle to celebrate Halloween!

19 New Games for the Kindle!

New Kindle game montage (large)

It’s only been a month since I wrote about games available on the Kindle — but during that month, 19 new Kindle games were released! On August 23rd, Amazon even released another new free word game
called Jigsaw Words. And there’s 12 more Kindle games that have been reduced in price, to just 99 cents! (Although today is last day of the sale – your last chance to buy any one of the following 12 Kindle games for just 99 cents…)

Triple Town
EA Sudoku
Pogo Hearts, Spades, and More
Kee-Ko’s Quest
Puzzle Baron’s Cryptograms
Panda Poet
Doodle Fit
Word Quest

So what are the 19 new games available for the Kindle? At least seven of them were released within the last week… In fact, last Tuesday saw the launch of five different Kindle Games.

Memory Classic

It was originally a card game — and I even remember a TV game show version — but it’s always had the same fun rules. You’ll reveal what’s hidden on the bottom of the cards (or tiles) — two at a time — while you try to find a matching pair. As you peak under more of the tiles, you’ll have to remember where you last saw it’s match! And to make things even more interesting, this Kindle version gradually increases the number of tiles to choose from!

The King of Shreds and Patches

Welcome to 17th-century London! It’s 1603 in this “interactive fiction” game, which promises to let you interact with both historical and fictional characters, “and thwart an occult conspiracy that threatens to bring down the entire city — or worse.” It’s billed as “a novel-length work…in which your choices control how successfully you navigate the story.” There’s puzzles along the way — plus a hint system (described as “elaborate”) in case you get stuck somewhere along the way!

Japanese Puzzles Volume 1

Sudoku is probably the most famous Japanese logic puzzle in this set — but is also offers you four more! There’s also Katkuro, which offers mathematical clues about which digits should be used to fill in the squares. Another game — “Number Island” — involves choosing the right shades for the squares which surround different “islands” of numbers. “Picture Cross” sounds a little like “Pixel Perfect Puzzles,” in which there’s clues about the number of shaded pixels for both the rows and columns of a grid. And Hitori is like Sudoku in reverse, where your goal is to black out some of the numbered squares to eliminate all the duplicate digits in a row or column!

My First Slider Puzzle

“The art is designed to appeal to kids,” explains this game’s description, ” and “there is a variety of challenges for everyone.” It’s like Amazon’s “Number Slide” puzzle — where you re-arrange the squares in a grid by moving them either horizontally or vertically, one square at a time. But in this game, you’re trying to reassemble the squares into a kid-friendly picture. (And the size of the grids is smaller, from 2 x 3 at the easiest level to 4 x 4 at the hardest level.)

Link 4

There’s a classic game called “Connect 4”, and this looks like the Kindle version of it. You virtually drop a black (or white) checker down one of seven columns, and you try to line up four of them in a row. But the Kindle also gets a turn, dropping in checkers of the opposite color, so to win, you’ll have to “outflank” them somehow. The game also offers a “pass and play” mode, where instead of the Kindle’s built-in AI, you’re just passing the Kindle to one of your friends so they can enter their moves. (The game’s description promises that it’s “far more engaging than Tic-Tac-Toe!”)

And on Wednesday, another interesting new game was released — called Timothy Parker’s Family Crossword Games. He’s the editor of crossword puzzles for USA Today, and he’s created a set of puzzles that includes a few that are specially designed for kids. (“Spend time with your little future puzzle masters in a fun, educational way,” suggests the game’s description at Amazon.com.) There’s already some other crossword puzzle games on Amazon, but I like the “art deco” style of Timothy’s graphics.

Amd then Thursday, a company called 7 Dragons released Tips for Kindle, which dispenses one of over 100 Kindle-related tips every time you open it — and lets you browse through them to learn more about your Kindle. (And there’s also a “slideshow” mode, which flashes through the tips automatically.)

So that’s seven new Kindle games, but that’s not even half of them.

Flight from the Dark (A Lone Wolf Adventure)

It was actually 27 years ago that this game was first created by Dungeons and Dragon’s fan Joe Dever. A print edition of the “gamebook” sold over 100,000 copies in its first month in 1984, according to Wikipedia, and now a slick new version has finally been created for the Kindle. “In a devastating attack the Darklords have destroyed the monastery where you were learning the skills of the Kai Lords…” explains the game’s description on Amazon — and it looks like the game has some interesting graphics! But mostly it’s just a good old-fashioned text adventure, offering lots of magical, medieval fun. “You swear revenge,” the description continues. “But first you must reach Holmgard to warn the King of Sommerlund of the gathering evil…”

Cluemaster Mini Sudoku Volume 1 ($1.99)

It’s regular Sudoku puzzles using 2 x 3 boxes — “but that doesn’t mean that they’re all easy!” But I’ve find that it’s sometimes more enjoyable to solve Sudoku puzzles when you’re only working with the digits between 1 and 6! This game was created by the Cluemaster, the same company that supplies newspaper puzzles to the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Telegraph, and their Kindle version offers 100 different puzzles with four different difficulty levels. (There’s Gentle, Moderate, Tough…and then Diabolical!) And Cluemaster is also offering a collection of 100 original Sudoku puzzles, plus two other 100-puzzle Kindle games offering more variations

Cluemaster Jigsaw Volume 1
It’s like regular Sudoku — with a twist! The nine digit-boxes aren’t arranged in squares. Instead, they’re clustered together into different “irregular shapes!”

Cluemaster Kakuro Volume 1
There’s some missing digits in the grid, along with mathematical clues about what the total would be if you added all the digits together!

Meanwhile, another company called “16 Hands” has released Doodle for Kindle is one of the most original new games that I’ve seen. You use the Kindle’s controller to sketch a line across the screen — so it’s basically a drawing application! “This reminded me of Etch A Sketch,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon. “With the 5-way, you can move a pixel around on the screen to make a sketch…” And there’s also another new Kindle game with “Doodle” in its title – called Doodle Fit — which is more of a conventional game. In Doodle Fit, you arrange different-sized blocks until they’ve create the target pattern that’s been supplied (as a “doodle.”) And until midnight on Monday, it’s on sale for just 99 cents!

Don’t forget about Jigsaw Words, the new free word game that Amazon released in August. I’d describe it as a “refrigerator magnet” game, where there’s parts of words scattered across different “puzzle pieces,” and you match them up to create a complete set of words, united by a single theme. (For example: birthday parties.) The game starts out easy, but according to at least one five-star review on Amazon, “Some really are a challenge for adults!”

I think the most interesting title for a new Kindle game is Ghostboy and the Nameless Grave. It describes itself as “An Interactive Children’s Book for Kindle,” and I’m really impressed by its funny, elegant graphics. (The size of the game file is 4.6 megabytes). On his birthday, a little boy named Tristan is haunted by a little ghost girl, and the game’s description on Amazon promises that as its four-part story unfolds, “your child explores a town full of mysteries on the night before Halloween.”

Deathtrap Dungeon

There’s barbarians, potions, and a magical ring of wishes in this new “Fighting Fantasy” adventure. (The game was created by Worldweaver, who also produced The Citadel of Chaos and Warlock on Firetop Mountain.) Like the other games, it was based on a popular series of books from the 1980s, and the Kindle version “is totally faithful to the original,” according to one review on Amazon. (“So if you liked the original, including the illustrations, it’s exquisitely reproduced, leaving nothing out.”) It looks like fun, at least judging by the game’s description on Amazon. “In Deathtrap Dungeon, you adventure in the medieval fantasy land of Allansia, where a twisted Baron has set up a great contest which consists primarily of trying to survive the diabolical traps and vicious monsters in the deadly labyrinth, Deathtrap Dungeon. So far, none have survived to lay claim to the prize, but that was before you came along.”

And there’s also two new “application” offerings that were released last month for the Kindle. TakeNote is basically a memo pad for your Kindle, which (according to its description) “lets you jot down whatever is on your mind quickly and easily.” And Finance Manager offers a financial calendar with alerts about bills which are coming due — plus 12 different “financial calculators” that can crunch the numbers on mortgages, the rates for long-term loans (using both compounding and simple interest), and even one for calculating your credit card payments!

Back in June I’d written that there were now over 100 games available for the Kindle. And then 10 more new games came along in July. So we’re up to at least 129 games for the Kindle now. In facst, there’s so many more new games, I’m wondering how long it will be before there’s finally 200 games available for the Kindle!

50% Off Kindle Interactive Fiction!

Dusk World - Amazon Kindle interactive fiction game screenshot

For the next week, eight different Kindle games have been slashed in price by 50%! The sale includes two new games — “Inheritance” and “Affairs of the Court” — both now available for just 99 cents. But Amazon’s also cut the price in half for “Dusk World”, which has always been one of the most expensive Kindle games in Amazon’s store.

I think of Dusk World as Amazon’s game masterpiece — a “noir”-style graphic novel from Amazon Digital Services in which nearly every page of text comes with an original illustration. (For that reason the game’s file size is an enormous 5.2 megabytes, making it one of the largest games in the Kindle store.) It’s a fun detective story about a superhero in jail — he’s imprisoned for a murder which he can’t remember whether he committed. The story is dark and intense, and Amazon even warns in the game’s description that “Dusk World contains content that may be inappropriate for children.” It’s almost like Amazon was trying to invent a new genre for the Kindle — a high-quality interactive choose-your-own-path comic book.

Maybe they were just ahead of their time. But I think Amazon still harbors a secret affection for the “interactive fiction” genre. In a promotional e-mail they sent me Wednesday, instead of describing them as games, Amazon’s calling them “interactive Kindle books”. (“Your choices control the story…” Amazon wrote, “in which multiple plot lines and endings promise a rich reading experience. “) In fact, one of the two new games is “Affairs of the Court” — the first interactive romance novel — in which players control the destiny of “a young noble who comes to court in search of love and power, and catches the sovereign’s eye.” It’s really two games rolled into one — “Choice of Romance” and a sequel, “Choice of Intrigues” — and it’s available for just 99 cents.

The other new game — “Inheritance” — is one of the best-formatted text adventures I’ve ever seen on the Kindle. “I don’t know how to break this to you, but your crazy uncle Ozmo has passed away,” the story begins. “…you must have made a good impression because he’s left you everything in his will.” There’s apparently eight different choices on each screen of the game, though the adventure is a little short (according to one user’s comment). It’s also part of Amazon’s “50% off sale” on interactive fiction, so through July 25 it’s also available for just 99 cents.

Here’s a complete list of all the games which are on sale for the next 10 days.

Affairs of the Court
Dusk World

The Citadel of Chaos
Warlock of Firetop Mountain

Choice of the Broadsides
Choice of the Vampire
Choice of the Dragon

Dusk World - new Amazon Kindle game

A New Kindle Game – and More 99-Cent Specials!

Electronic Arts releases Yahtzee on Kindle

First, I want to apologize to everyone in England. For over a year, I’ve been talking about games on the Kindle — but apparently, you’re not able to download them if your Kindle’s in England. “I want my Fighting Fantasy…!” joked one British Kindle owner, in a comment at Reddit.com. And he added, “What’s more annoying is that the books are from a U.K. company and they can’t even sell their products on the U.K. market!”

Yes, ironically, two of the most popular games are Kindle versions of the “Fighting Fantasy” series of books — The Citadel of Chaos and The Warlock of Firetop Mountain — where readers choose from multiple paths through a Dungeons and Dragons-style adventure. But this series was created in 1982 by two British authors — Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone — and the rights are now owned by the British publisher, Wizard Books, according to Wikipedia. Warlock of Firetop Mountain was first published in 1982 — the first book in a 59-book series. But nearly 30 years later, when it’s finally made its glorious debut on the Kindle — nobody in England’s able to buy it!

But meanwhile, American customers have more and more games to choose from.  Tuesday Amazon released a new free game called Pixel Perfect Puzzles. And last week Yahtzee Yahtzee finally appeared in the Kindle store — the classic dice game originally marketed by Hasbro. Best of all, it was created by Electronic Arts, the digital game-making powerhouse behind big Kindle best-sellers like Scrabble and Monopoly. Founded in 1982, they’ve continued making digital games for nearly 30 years, and they’ve also released three more popular Kindle games — Texas Hold ‘Em, Sudoku, and Solitaire. But Yahtzee is the first new game they’ve released since 2010 — and because it’s new, they’ve slashed its $4.99 price to just 99 cents!

And if you’ve spent any time exploring Amazon, you’ve noticed their teaser for another special announcement. “For a limited time, select Kindle game customer favorites–including Scrabble, Solitaire, and NY Times [Crossword Puzzles] — are on sale for just $0.99 each.” The offer ends on Sunday, July 10, and there’s 11 different games to choose from. Just point your browser to tinyurl.com/JulyGameSale to browse the games’ pages on Amazon.com. Below is a complete list of all the games currently reduced in price to just 99 cents.

EA Texas Hold’em
EA Solitaire
Word Soup
Mahjong Solitaire
Hangman 4 Kids
EA Sudoku
True Backgammon
NY Times Crosswords Vol. 5
NY Times Crosswords Vol. 6

And of course, don’t forget Yahtzee!

100 Games for the Kindle!

100 games for the Kindle
I couldn’t believe it. I checked the best-seller lists at Amazon.com, and discovered that there’s now over 100 games that are available for the Kindle — including eight free ones! Monday two more new games arrived in the Kindle store — including the really attractive “Fortune Teller.” (“Your Fortune Told on Kindle…”) But it’s part of a new trend, as different kinds of “active digital content” start appearing in the Kindle store. I’ve assembled a complete list of everything that’s available in the store’s “games” section — and discovered a few surprises.

For example, there’s now also another “game” that provides daily horoscopes, and one that helps you convert measurements — like miles to kilometers. Wednesday a new “reference title” showed up with recipes for cocktails. Another “game” lists the calories in popular fast food meals, and there’s another one which turns your Kindle into a stopwatch. There’s an appointment/calendar book, and of course the Notepad and “Sticky Notes” applications. There’s even educational flashcards for kids, plus other educational games (including one from the Scripps National Spelling Bee).

Instead of entertainment, these games are offering actual information in an interactve format. (If you’re taking your Kindle on the road, it could really come in handy!) It shows the variety of active content that’s now available in a Kindle-ready format, and it reminds me of hodgepodge of tempting apps that are available in Apple’s app store. In fact, with all these “useful” applications, it’s nice to see new games being released that are still just plain fun.

Kee-Ko’s Quest — also released Monday — has some delightfully simple graphics. There’s a bug-eyed, smiling robot named Kee-ko (who looks more like a toy car) happily traveling down a track at a factory. Players nudge the five-way controller to move Kee-Ko — and the other robots blocking her way — as she tries to reach the right side of each screen to re-unite with her long-lost robot boyfriend (named F4R4W4Y). I really liked how this game involves a character and a story, instead of just numbers and letters and abstract challenges…

But it also proves how quickly new games are arriving Amazon’s Kindle store. Two weeks ago Amazon released a new game called Pirate Stash — less than three weeks after their last new game, Thread Words! And it seems like the new games are also getting more complicated. Pirate Stash has nearly 120 different brain-teaser puzzles, enough to keep you busy for quite a while! (Pirate Stash isn’t free, but Amazon will send you a free sample with the first 15 puzzles.)

“Fortune Teller” is another example of a seemingly-simple idea with a sophisticated implementation. I loved its graphics — though I remain skeptical as to whether it can truly predict the future. The amazing “Hectar” provides one new prediction a day through a crystal ball on each of five topics — love, money, career, life, and friendship. And the game actually comes with three completely different “modes” of fortune telling — including the more traditional fortune cookie. (“Only 3 cookies can be opened a day so choose wisely.”) And there’s also a “Mystic Pyramid” which works like the Magic Eight Ball, promising “you can merely think a question and pressing the enter key…will give you an answer to the question. Ask as many times as you like!”

Last week saw the release of a new variation on Sudoku called Futoshiki, and there’s also a new text-based “choose your adventure” story called “Choice of the Vampire.” But I realized games were finally catching on for the Kindle when I convinced my friend Len Edgerly (who hosts The Kindle Chronicles podcast) to give Monopoly a try. “I have become a fan of Monopoly,” he admitted in last week’s show. (Adding “I don’t know whether to thank you for that or curse you for it.”) But I think he put his finger on exactly why it can be so enjoyable to play a game on the Kindle. “It’s a very pleasing way to take a break from whatever I’m doing — to move my little hat icon around the board…”

I’ve become almost an evangelist for games on the Kindle — and if you’ve never tried one, you’ll always wonder what you’re missing. So to help you try one, I’ve assembled a complete list of all the games currently available on the Kindle — along with their taglines in the Amazon store, and their current price.

Kee-Ko’s QuestA Puzzle for Kindle ($1.99)

“Fortune Teller”Your Fortune Told on Kindle ($1.99)

EA Texas Hold’emPlay the Popular Poker Game ($3.99)

Pirate StashA Puzzle Game for Kindle ($1.99)

Wordoku Unbound #1A Puzzle Collection (99 cents)

ScrabblePlay the Popular Word Game on Kindle ($4.99)

Word SearchA Word Game for Kindle (99 cents)

EA Solitaire12 Card Games to Play on Kindle ($3.99)

NotepadA Note Taking Tool for Kindle (99 cents)

Calendar ProA Schedule Tool for Kindle (99 cents)

CalendarA Schedule Tool for Kindle (99 cents)

Sudoku Unbound #1A Puzzle Collection ($2.99)

Mahjong SolitaireA Matching Game for Kindle ($3.99)

Sticky NotesA Note Taking Tool (99 cents)

Maze A ThonA Game for Kindle (99 cents)

CalculatorA Calculator for Kindle (99 cents)

Snakes and Ladders gameA Game for Kindle (99 cents)

SlingoA Game for Kindle ($3.99)

CheckersA Classic Game for Kindle (99 cents)

CheckersA Classic Game for Kindle (99 cents)

CodeWordCodewords and Cryptograms for Kindle (99 cents)

MonopolyPlay the Popular Board Game on Kindle ($4.99)

ChessA Classic Game for Kindle ($2.99)

Hangman 4 KidsA Kindle Word Game for Children ($1.99)

NY Times Crosswords Vol. 130 World Famous Easy Puzzles ($1.99)

Word Search Volume 2A Word Game for Kindle (99 cents)

EA SudokuPlay Sudoku on Kindle ($3.99)

Easy CalculatorA Calculator for Kindle (99 cents)

Blocked – Rescue the Block! – A Game for Kindle (99 cents)

NY Times Crosswords Vol. 290 World Famous Easy Puzzles) ($4.99)

Next Puzzle GameA Matching Game for Kindle (99 cents)

Stopwatch and TimerA Time Keeping Tool for Kindle (99 cents)

My Yoga StudioA Yoga Partner on Kindle ($1.99)

ConverterEasy Conversions for Kindle (99 cents)

HangmanA Word Game for Kindle ($2.99)

Triple TownA Puzzle Strategy Game for Kindle ($3.99)

CalendarAppointments, Birthdays, Holidays and Sticky Notes – A Schedule Tool for Kindle (99 cents)

Tic Tac ToeA Classic Game for Kindle (99 cents)

Peg SolitaireA Classic Solitaire Game for Kindle (99 cents)

Scripps Spelling Bee: Word GamesA Word Game for Kindle ($2.99)

FutoshikiA Logic Puzzle for Kindle (99 cents)

The Warlock of Firetop MountainA Fighting Fantasy Adventure ($3.99)

Jumble, 200 PuzzlesA Word Scramble Game ($4.99)

Flip It!A Game for Kindle (99 cents)

Choice of the DragonA Text-Based Adventure ($1.99)

Word SoupA Word Game for Kindle – ($1.99)

True BackgammonA Classic Board Game for Kindle ($1.99)

Anywhere AbsA Workout Partner on Kindle ($1.99)

Flash Cards: Basic Math for KidsA Learning Tool for Kindle ($2.99)

StrimkoA Logic Game for Kindle ($2.99)

Panda PoetA Word Game for Kindle ($2.99)

NY Times Crosswords Vol. 330 World Famous Challenging Puzzles ($1.99)

Flash Cards: Fractions for KidsA Learning Tool for Kindle ($2.99)

Fast Food Calories – Calorie CounterA Reference Tool for Kindle ($1.99)

Daily Horoscopes 2011 – 2012Your Daily Horoscope on Kindle ($2.99)

Spelling StarA Learning Game for Kindle ($2.99)

NY Times Crosswords Vol. 530 World Famous Easy Puzzles ($1.99)

Anywhere LegsA Workout Partner on Kindle ($1.99)

24-7 Spanish – VocabularyA Language Trainer ($3.99)

Choice of the VampireA Text-Based Adventure ($2.99)

NY Times Crosswords Vol. 490 World Famous Challenging Puzzles ($4.99)

Peg SolitaireA Puzzle Game for Kindle (99 cents)

Jumble, 50 PuzzlesA Word Scramble Game ($2.49)

Choice of BroadsidesA Text-Based Adventure ($1.99)

24-7 Spanish – Basic PhrasesA Language Trainer ($3.99)

The Citadel of ChaosA Fighting Fantasy Adventure ($3.99)

Ultimate Music QuizA Trivia Game for Kindle ($1.99)

Dusk WorldAn Interactive Fiction Game ($2.99)

Diamond Crosswords – 50 Easy Puzzles – A Word Puzzle for Kindle (99 cents)

Match GeniusA Memory Puzzle Game ($2.99)

Jumble, 20 PuzzlesA Word Scramble Game (99 cents)

Brain Bump LiteratureA Trivia Game for Book Lovers (99 cents)

Rockin ReversiA Classic Game for Kindle ($1.99)

Ultimate Movie QuizA Trivia Game for Kindle ($1.99)

Symdoku Unbound #1A Puzzle Collection ($2.99)

Flash Cards: Alphabet and Spelling for KidsA Learning Tool for Kindle ($1.99)

NY Times Crosswords Vol. 630 World Famous Challenging Puzzles ($1.99)

Reversi DeluxeA Classic Game for Kindle ($1.99)

Letter LandersAn Early Reader Game for Kindle ($2.99)

24-7 German – VocabularyA Language Trainer ($3.99)

24-7 Italian – Basic PhrasesA Language Trainer ($3.99)

24-7 French – Basic PhrasesA Language Trainer ($3.99)

Ultimate Nature QuizA Trivia Game for Kindle ($1.99)

24-7 Italian – VocabularyA Language Trainer ($3.99)

Spelling Star Spanish EditionA Learning Game for Kindle ($3.99)

24-7 French – VocabularyA Language Trainer ($2.99)

24-7 German – Basic PhrasesA Language Trainer ($3.99)

Ultimate Sci-Fi QuizA Trivia Game for Kindle ($1.99)

Tower of HanoiKindle Edition (99 cents)

Cat Jump – Interactive Puzzle for Kindle (99 cents)

Cocktail MixerA Reference Title for Kindle ($1.99)

BlossomA Puzzle for Kindle

InheritanceA Text Adventure for Kindle

Free Kindle Games From Amazon

Thread WordsA Free Word Game for Kindle

Dots and BoxesA Free Game for Kindle

Every WordA Free Game for Kindle

BlackjackA Free Game for Kindle

Number SlideA Free Game for Kindle

Shuffled RowA Free Game for Kindle

Video PokerA Free Game for Kindle

MinesweeperA Free Game for Kindle

Another Free Game from Amazon

New free Amazon Kindle word game Thread Words

I tried to explain to my friend Len Edgerly last week just how much I enjoyed playing games on the Kindle. It’s fun to do something digital on a screen that isn’t backlit — and I always enjoy spending time with my Kindle. And it turns out that two weeks ago, Amazon released a brand new word game for the Kindle — for free. It’s one of several new games that are available for the Kindle — and most of them cost just 99 cents.

Amazon’s new free game is called “Thread Words”, and it’s sort of a cross between “Every Word” and “Boggle”. (There’s 25 letters in a 5 x 5 grid, and your goal is to create words by using one letter from each column, while only moving up and down by one row.) This marks the eighth free game that Amazon has released. (They’d released their slick version of “Dots and Boxes” just three weeks earlier, plus their own version of the classic number-grid game “Number Slide” on March 31.) I’d describe their latest game as “horizontal Boggle,” since you’re trying to form as many words as possible while still reading from left to right.

But on the same day, a new game company was releasing their very first game for the Kindle. Olmatech Technology has put together a nice version of the classic board game “Chutes and Ladders,” where players take shortcuts through a 100-square board — either traveling up on a ladder, or sliding backwards instead! Surprisingly, the game dates back to ancient India, according to Wikipedia, where its original name was “the ladder to salvation.” (It taught the concept that good deeds are rewarded while bad deeds are punished.) In the Kindle version, there’s a tiny little “Kindle” icon that represents your opponent — and if it slides backwards on the back of a snake, a cute little animation plays in the game’s lower right-hand corner!

There’s also a new kind of crossword puzzle that’s been released by Puzux games. (They’re the company that first brought to the Kindle those Jumble puzzles that you’d see in your Sunday newspaper.) In a mind-boggling twist, the grid is rotated 45 degrees, so the “across” words are formed using squares that only touch at their corners, in what would be a diagonal line in a conventional crossword puzzle. Their game is called Diamond Crossword, of course, and though there’s fewer words than a traditional crossword puzzle, this also means that it won’t take you forever to finally finish a grid!

Kindle Diamond Crossword game screenshot

But those aren’t the only new games for the Kindle. I’ve also been enjoying Strimko from Braintonik games – an interesting variation on Sudoku where all of the digits are connected by a line (instead of appearing in the same box). There’s an easy version (with the digits 1-4) and a trickier version with the digits 1 -7. And if you’d like to try the game before you buy it, just point your web browser to strimko.com/play.htm

But I think I’m most excited to see a new Kindle game called “Peg Solitaire.” I’ve always loved solving brain teasers, and there’s actually 40 different challenges packed into this game. It’s another classic puzzle
that’s finally reached the Kindle. (“Did you know…” the game asks at the bottom of one screen, “the first evidence of the peg solitaire game can be traced back to the court of Louis XIV in the year of 1697.”) I enjoy trying to think out my moves in advance — and even after I’ve solved one of the puzzles, I still get a special thrill if I can solve them again.

Kindle Peg Solitaire game screenshot

Hopefully one of these days, I’ll even be able to convince Len Edgerly to try playing games on his Kindle! ;)

A New Free Kindle Game From Amazon!

Amazon Free Kindle game screenshot - Dots and Lines

Thursday Amazon released yet-another free game for the Kindle. It’s called Dots and Boxes, and it’s a very attractive rendition of one of the classic mathematical strategy games.

Amazon’s game was actually invented more than 150 years ago, by a famous French mathematics professor named Edouard Lucas. (According to Wikipedia, he invented another classic math game — the Tower of Hanoi puzzle — which was also recently adapted into a game for the Kindle 120 years after his death.) Lucas once discovered a 40-digit prime number by performing all the calcuations by hand! But what’s funny is that Lucas himself tried to market a version of “Dots and Boxes” back in the 1800s, saying the game’s author was “N. Claus de Siam” (which was really just an anagram for “Lucas d’Amiens” — acknowledging the city in north France, where he was born).

It’s a game which is traditionally played with a pencil and paper, but Amazon’s created a slick update. Players take turns drawing lines between the dots on a grid — and if a player’s line forms the fourth side of a box, a picture of an animal appears inside to show that they’ve claimed the entire square. “Your goal is to beat your opponent by completing more boxes than they do,” Amazon explain in the game’s instructions, but the game is surprisingly difficult. The first time I tried playing a game against my Kindle, the Kindle actually managed to beat me! (“Wow! The Kindle is really smart and very tricky,” posted one reviewer on Amazon.com.)

But I really liked how Amazon indicated which player had claimed the square — using either a lion’s head or the head of an elephant. There’s also a nice illustration of the two animals above each of the menus (which are framed with vines and flowers.) Even when you’re scrolling through the menus, the “selection indicator” is an elephant’s head on one side and an lion’s head on the other. I think it would’ve been fun if Amazon had just decided to call the game “Elephant Heads and Lion Heads.”

This makes the seventh free game that Amazon has released. (Less than a month earlier, Amazon released — Number Slide — and there’s also two free card-based games, Video Poker and Blackjack.) Amazon’s also released two (free) word games — Every Word and Shuffled Row — and of course, the first free game for the Kindle was Minesweeper. There’s a link built into “Dots and Boxes” that leads to Amazon’s own game page in the Kindle store where you can donwload all of their other free games to your Kindle.

This game brought back fond memories for at least one Kindle blogger. “I can remember being in the back of the car on a long trip with a large pad of paper with a 100 square grid playing with my sister,” remembers Michael P. Gallagher. In a review he posted to Amazon’s web site, he suggests that the Kindle version reminded him of some of that childhood drama.

“We were usually good to be a little more quiet for ten minutes or so until one or the other would get frustrated with losing, or gloaring a little too much with winning!”

Amazon Releases a New Free Game

Free Amazon Kindle Game Number Slide screenshot

It sounds like an April Fool’s Day joke — but it’s not! Amazon’s just released a brand-new free game for the Kindle. It’s a beautiful rendition of the classic “number slider” puzzle — this time with a couple of twists.

To start with, there’s just one empty square on a grid of numbered titles, which makes it possible to slide just one tile at a time, either up, down, or sideways. “Your goal is to use the empty space to slide the numbered tiles until they are in order,” Amazon’s instructions explain. “When the tiles are in order with the empty space in the bottom right, you win!”

But Amazon also lets you select a new difficulty level for the puzzle, offering grids that are either “small, medium, or large.” (That is, you can slide the numbers in a small three-by-three grid, a trickier four-by-four grid, or an even more challenging five-by-five grid.) And if you choose the “automatic” setting, a tile will move as soon as you highlight it, so you don’t even have to press in the select button. (And if you instead you choose the “manual” setting, you can cursor past several tiles, and then move them all at once by selecting the one that’s farthest away!)

“You know, the last thing I need is yet another addictive game on my Kindle!” complained blogger Michael P. Gallagher. This morning he posted the game’s first review on its page in the Kindle store, writing that “The graphics are very crisp and the response time is very fast on my Kindle 3 as compared to the slowness I saw on the free Kindle poker game…”

“Now, if I can just find time to read on my darn Kindle….”

This game is part of an unacknowledged trend, since gradually all of the classic games are starting to become available on the Kindle. Just yesterday Oak Systems Leisure Software released Codewords and Cryptograms for Kindle. It’s the familiar cryptograms that appear in your daily newspaper, where a quote from a famous person is hidden with a “substitution” code where different letters are swapped in to represent every letter. (And they’ve also bundled in a fascinating variation on the classic crossword puzzles, called “Codewords,” where you try to perform the same de-ciphering in a crossword puzzle grid!)

That company also released the first Kindle version of Chess in February (as well as a Word Search game). And if you’re looking for traditional crossword puzzles, The New York Times has released six different volumes. One week ago, two different companies even released two different Kindle versions of the board game checkers on the exact same day. And just Tuesday, the same thing happened again, when two companies released competing versions of the disk-flipping game Reversi.

In February, a company named 7 Dragons released a Kindle version of the game Tic Tac Toe (as well as a new game called Flip It) — but two weeks ago, they even unveiled a Kindle version of the classic text-document application, “Notepad.” And there were already two competing versions of the software. So game development is definitely starting to happen on the Kindle platform.

I agree with Michael Gallagher — all these games are cutting into the time that I’d normally spend reading on my Kindle. Number Slide marks the sixth free game that Amazon has released. Below is a complete list of all Amazon’s free Kindle games — in case you’re looking for more fun ways to spend this year’s April Fool’s Day.

Video Poker
Shuffled Row
Every Word
Black Jack
Number Slide

Strong Reactions to Amazon’s New App Store

Amazon Android Store Angry Birds Rio app

Today Amazon opened a new app store for Android smartphones and tablet devices! And it’s also raising questions about whether Amazon is preparing to release their own iPad-sized Kindle that runs the Android operating system.

Amazon “did not respond to requests for comment” when contacted by the Wall Street Journal. But today the newspaper reported that industry observers “widely expect” Amazon to release a multimedia Kindle “that may run on Android.” And whatever they do next, Amazon has just entered into a high-stakes war with the largest players in the entire technology industry — including Apple, Google, and Microsoft. With or without an Android-based Kindle, at least one stock analyst already predicts that Amazon could be “a leader” here, based on how powerful they’ve already become in online shopping.

Amazon “has a key advantage over Google,” the Wall Street Journal reports — “untold millions of paying customers who have already provided critical credit-card information.” And Amazon attacked Google directly in their press release today when they announced the U.S. launch of their app store, the Journal observed. “In a thinly-veiled swipe at Google, Amazon noted that it will test all Android apps before they’re made available to consumers in its app store.” There’s over 150,000 apps in Google’s own store, the Journal notes, which makes it more difficult to test the apps individually, “a policy that came back to bite Google earlier this month when it was forced to remove dozens of malicious apps from its market.”

Obviously all these fun and useful “app”-style programs won’t run on the current-generation Kindles, but Amazon’s new store can sell its apps for all the current smartphones and tablets that run the Android operating system. And “the Amazon Appstore for Android” is already drawing some very positive reviews. Compared to Google’s “Android Market,” Amazon’s store “is much more pleasurable to navigate,” PC World reported, “immediately presenting you with a long list of popular free and paid apps.” They also point out that Amazon’s store has nearly 4,000 apps available on its very first day, and “What Amazon loses in quantity, it gains in quality…this is obvious when you run a search for popular apps like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. Clones, spam apps and irrelevant results abound in the Android Market, but Amazon’s store returns exactly what you’re looking for–and nothing more.”

“Our customers have told us that the sheer number of apps available can make it hard to find apps that are high quality and relevant to them,” Amazon announced today in their press release. And they’ve also added a special new feature called “Test Drive,” which actually lets you preview an app on your PC before downloading it to your phone.

The launch of the Android-phone app store has already provoked Apple into action. Friday Apple even filed a lawsuit against Amazon, trying to force them to stop using the term “app store.” It seems to me Apple is worried that an iPad-sized Kindle — complete with its own app store — could create some unwanted competition. (“We’ve asked Amazon not to copy the App Store name because it will confuse and mislead customers,” an Apple spokeswoman told Bloomberg News.) Friday Apple actually filed an official complaint in a federal courthouse in California, citing both “trademark infringement” and unfair trade practices (and requesting both an injunction on the use of the phrase “app store” and a legal award of damages.) Apple claims the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had already approved an application for a trademark on the phrase “app store”.

But the approval of an application isn’t necessarily an approval of the trademark itself. Apple’s trademark application remains in an “opposition period” where other players in the industry — including Microsoft —
now file legal arguments for or against the granting of an official trademark. It looks like it’s going to be a brutal and intense legal struggle. On March 11, Microsoft even complained that Apple was cheating by using a smaller font to cram more words into their 31-page response. (“Under the rules, Apple’s brief cannot exceed 25 pages in its entirety…and must be printed in at least 11-point font…”)

All the legal and economic arguments are really just a distraction from the giddy fun of the launch of a new app store. You can access it at these shorter URLs


And there seems to be a lot of excitement. This afternoon when I tried to install the Amazon Appstore on my smartphone, I received a “server busy” message for nearly half an hour! Amazon is giving away “Angry Birds Rio,” the newest version of a popular bird-shooting game for smartphones. (“Birds away!” reads Amazon’s description, promising “you’ll unleash an arsenal of angry bird artillery through 60 levels of cage-busting vengeance.”) They’re advertising it as an Amazon appstore exclusive, and it’s already the best-selling item in Amazon’s app store — but it’s not the only free game in the store. In fact, there’s hundreds of free apps in the store today, including free versions of all the following classic games.

Connect 4
Word Search
Texas Hold ‘Em,
Tic Tac Toe

There’s even two more free Angry Birds games, plus Guitar Hero 5. (And there’s even a version of Pac-Man.) Of course, there’s non-game applications, like Oprah Mobile, E! Online, and Zagat to Go. But the most interesting feature is Amazon’s promise of very aggressive pricing if you’ll keep visiting their app store. The store’s current tagline?

“Get a great paid app for free every day.”

15 Kindle Games Now Cost 99 Cents Each!

Cheap Kindle Games on Sale at Amazon for 99 cents

Amazon’s just announced a special deal. “For a limited time, customers’ favorite Kindle games — including Scrabble, Mahjong Solitaire and NY Times Crosswords — are on sale for just $0.99 each.”

Here’s a complete list of the games available at the special 99-cent price.

Sudoku Unbound
Mahjong Solitaire
Texas Hold ‘Em
New York Times Crossword Puzzles
   (Two sets of easy and two sets of “challenging” puzzles)
Hangman for Kids
Triple Town

View the web page at tinyurl.com/KindleGameSale

The offer ends March 27 — a week from Sunday. The sale is apparently designed to encourage Kindle owners to buy these games over the next 10 days, so the games will start appearing on Amazon’s best-seller lists. And it’s working. Instantly Scrabble shot into the #1 spot on the Kindle best-sellers list, and Solitaire became the #2 best-selling item in the Kindle store.

In fact, six of the 10 best-selling items in the Kindle store are now games. (Mahjong Solitaire is currently #4, Sudoku Unbound is #5, and a New York Times Crosswords collection is #10.) Interestingly, even the new Word Search game (released February 3) is now #8 — though it’s not even one of the games that’s being touted in Amazon’s special promotion. It’s been in the top 100 since the day it was released, and for some reason, it’s also listed on Amazon’s Nonfiction best-sellers list, where it’s #2 — behind Sudoku Unbound.

Every game in this special promotion is now among the top 100 best-sellers — and there’s at least three more 99-cent games that have also crashed into the top 100. (There’s Slingo — which used to retail for $3.99 — as well as Flip It and Maze A Thon!) That means 13 of the top 100 best-sellers in the Kindle store are all games. Besides the six
top-10 titles listed above, here’s a list of the remaining seven.

Slingo (#16)
Hangman for Kids (#19)
Chess (#22)
Triple Town (#44)
Texas Hold ‘Em (#45)
FlipIt (#60)
Maze A Thon (#65)

Amazon sent out an e-mail Tuesday touting these games to Kindle owners who’d requested special promotional announcements. (“Check out these bestsellers that customers describe as fun, addictive, and a great way to take a break from reading.”) And I was surprised to see that there’s still more new games in the Kindle store — or at least, some games that I hadn’t seen before.

For example, there’s The Warlock of Firetop Mountain — a sort of one-player Dungeons and Dragon’s game based on the “Fighting Fantasy” series of game books. It’s a text adventure with some nice black-and-white illustrations, and even the rolling dice get adorned with some very fancy graphics.

Screenshot from the Kindle game Warlock of Firetop Mountain

And I have to admit that I’m intrigued by a new word game called “Word Soup.” There’s over 125 different letters displayed on a grid, and the object is to build words out of the adjacent letter blocks. But when you create a word, all its letters disappear from the grid, while the remaining letters drop down a row. There’s at least 13 different rows, so it gets pretty complicated — but it looks like a lot of fun. Even at $2.99, it’s already one of the top 200 best-selling items in Amazon’s Kindle store.

But for the next 10 days, it’s going to have a lot of competition from all the 99-cent games!

10 *More* New Games for the Kindle!

Symdoku (Sudoku variation) game for Kindle screenshot

It’s time for a big update! Amazon stunned game-lovers over the last 10 days by unveiling Kindle versions for two of the all-time classic board games. The first one was True Backgammon, created by a company called CompuLab — and I’m impressed. I thought I was a pretty good backgammon player, but the game has managed to beat me several times!

And just six days later, Amazon’s Kindle store got a full-featured Kindle version for the game of chess (developed by Oak Systems Leisure Software). I’d been trying to play chess online by pointing my Kindle’s web browser to a special URL that I’d created — tinyurl.com/kchess — which led to a chess-playing application on the web. It’s much nicer having a chess program tucked away on my Kindle, and it even lets you take back your moves if you discover that you’ve made a mistake! (There’s already been a chess game available for the Nook for the last 10 months…so it’s great to see that the Kindle has finally caught up.)

Just two weeks ago I’d written about 10 new games on the Kindle, but checking again, I see now that there’s ten more new games for the Kindle! The very next day 7 Dragons released a brand new game called Flip It. It’s a little bit like the board game Othello, because you’re studying a virtual board of black tiles which you’re trying to flip over to their white side. It’s a game “that starts out simple and gets more challenging as you play,” according to its description on Amazon — and they’re right! I’ve been playing this game since it came out, and while I solved the first few fairly quickly, I’ve reached a couple of levels that have really kept me thinking!

Meanwhile, just 10 days ago, Oak Systems Leisure Software was releasing another game — a nice Kindle version of the familiar Word Search. It let’s you use the five-way controller to draw a pencil line when you’ve spotted a word hidden in the big grid of letters — but the game also includes a lot of extra features, according to its description in the Amazon Kindle store. (“Play at your own pace or against the clock… You can reset each puzzle and try it again as many times as you like.”) I loved solving Word Search puzzles when I was a kid, so I’m glad to see that you can finally puzzle them out on the Kindle!

There’s also a very simple game that’s called simply Cat Jump. There’s 14 cats drawn in 15 squares that are stacked up to form a pyramid. (There’s just one cat in the first row, two in the second row, three in the third row, and four in the fourth.) Your mission? Get rid of all of the cats! (Except one.) You remove a cat from the board by jumping over it — just kind of like a game of cat checkers. It’s simple, but also tricky, like a classic old-fashioned brain teaser…but with cats!

I’ve also discovered a fascinating new variation on Sudoku from a game company called Puzzazz. Instead of numbers, you’re fitting symbols into the nine-square boxes, which transforms the traditional Sudoku game into something much more challenging, which they’re calling Symdoku Unbound. I have to admire the game-maker’s ingenuity, because it’s a game that would be difficult to play with a paper and pen — though it works perfectly on the Kindle! And they’ve even created another version of the game where you’re fitting letters into the nine-square boxes, called Worduko Unbound.

Symdoku (Sudoku variation) game for Kindle screenshot

One of the top manufacturers, Electronic Arts, also has a slick version of the classic Sudoku game that’s just been discounted by 50%. Now it’s available for just $1.49, and it plays just like the classic number game that you’ve seen in your local newspaper. There’s still nine boxes (with nine squares each) where you’re trying to enter the digits 1 through 9. In fact, the Japanese word Sudoku roughly translates to “each number can occur only once” — and I’ve had a lot of fun studying Sudoku boards trying to find my way to the solution!

Plus, Amazon has released another new game for the Kindle that’s absolutely free. The free game is Video Poker, and it’s just like playing the poker slot machines in a Las Vegas casino. There’s a beautiful illustration of a “Jacks or Better” video-game display, and it “deals” you a five-card hand (where you’ll select which cards to keep). Amazon just released this game — three days before the Super Bowl — and it’s already become a huge hit. It became the #1 best-selling item in the Kindle Store’s “free” section, and 10 days later, it’s still holding on to the #2 position.

Triple Town is one of the best new games for the Kindle. Though it was released in October, it’s still one of the top 100 best-sellers in the Kindle store. It’s sort of a cross between Sim City and Tetris, since you’re given a randomly-chosen piece that you try to place on a 6 x 6 grid. Create the right combinations, and you can build castles, cathedrals, or even a floating palace up in the sky. But there’s also troublesome “wizard” pieces flitting across the grid, which can temporarily block the squares that you need to complete your combinations!

Screenshot of Triple Town game on a Kindle

There’s another nicely-designed word game called Panda Poet. How to describe it? The pandas get larger depending on the length of the words you submit! Each round brings you extra letters — giving you even more chances to grow larger and larger pandas. You’ll get more letters to work with than you do in most word games, but it’s still fun to search carefully for the largest possible word. And of course, it’s also fun to see your pandas growing taller and wider…

By the way, here’s a handy tip for how to reach three more free games on Amazon. There’s a special shortcut at Amazon.com that will take you to the first three games ever released for the Kindle. After typing Amazon.com (and a slash), just type out the name of the game (in lowercase letters). The games were Every Word, Shuffled Row and Minesweeper — so here’s what you’d type into your web browser to reach their pages on Amazon.


All three of these games are free — and at the top of the page, you can click on the author’s name (where it says “by Amazon Digital Service.”) This will take you to a page listing all six of the games released by Amazon, including two more free games — Blackjack and Video Poker. The only game there that isn’t free is Dusk World, Amazon’s special graphic novel-style text adventure. But there’s also a similar shortcut for reaching that game’s page with your web browser — just type Amazon.com/duskworld

It still amazes me. Last summer there were only a handful of good games for the Kindle. But now, there’s a couple dozen!

10 New Games for the Kindle!

Brain Bump - New Game for the Kindle

It’s amazing. Last summer there were just two good games you could play on your Kindle — Shuffled Row and Every Word. A couple more trickled in over the winter, including Scrabble and Monopoly. But suddenly there’s a flood of of brand new games appearing in the Kindle. In fact, ten more new games have turned up in just the last eight weeks. And at least two of them are now on sale!

Mahjong Solitaire
It was just last month when this beautiful new game turned up in the Kindle store – and for the next week it’s on sale for half price! It’s now just $1.99 (instead of $3.99), and it features a variety of 10 different game boards, each one below a very attractive grayscale logo. It’s a one-player version of the classic Mahjong tile-removing game, but I think the layout is absolutely gorgeous.

Mahjong Solitaire was produced by Mobigloo, which had released its first game for the Kindle just eight days earlier (on November 22nd). Next is a Tetris-style “matching” game that’s “easy to learn…hard to master,” according to the description on Amazon.com. For $2.99 you get 128 different levels, and you can play them in any order, according to one reviewer at Amazon.com. “You do not have to slowly work your way to the hardest level!”

Amazon also released a new free game for the Kindle in the first week of December: the classic card game Blackjack. It’s currently the 11th best-selling free item in Amazon’s entire Kindle store, and it’s very well-produced. (It’s nice to see a Kindle game with all the functionality of an actual card game in a Vegas casino, like “doubling” your bet for the next card drawn, and even “buying insurance” against the dealer having a 21.) And if you’re not sure whether to hit or stand, there’s even a built-in adviser which reveals your mathematical odds of success in every situation.

The day after Amazon released Blackjack, Sonic Boom released a Kindle version of the game Hangman. For just $2.99, you can play the classic letter-guessing game with over 1,000 different words. (And the game lets you swap in three different “victims” that you’re trying to save from the hangman’s noose — a stick figure, a gingerbread man, or even William Shakespeare.) Sometimes the puzzles are “Wheel of Fortune”-style phrases, but the game will always provide you with at least two hints towards the final answer. Right now the game is averaging just three out of five stars among reviewers on Amazon, but the biggest complaint seems to be that if you finally fail to guess the correct word, the game still doesn’t tell you what it was!

The reviews were much more positive for Slingo, which is averaging four and a half stars out of 17 different reviews. It’s a variation on Bingo, where you “spin the dial” on the numbers at the bottom of the board, and hope they eventually match all the numbers on your Bingo card. “This Kindle version is a very good adaptation of a classic hand-held and PC game, and I think it is well worth the price,” wrote one reviewer in Arizona. “If Amazon keeps this up, I may have to unload a few books from my Kindle to make room for the games!”

Dusk World - new Amazon Kindle game

Dusk World
This is one of the most interesting new games for the Kindle, created by Amazon Digital Services, and released on December 14. Dusk World is the first game from Amazon which isn’t free — it costs $5.99 — but it’s got some really wonderful graphics. It’s an interactive text adventure with some lavish, noir detective style illustrations, in which you play the character Agent Patriot (described by Amazon as “a super-powered chameleon, reformed mob enforcer, war hero, convict framed for double murder.”) They warn that the game contains content “that may be inappropriate for children,” but it’s exciting that Amazon envisions the game as the first installment in a new “Living Tale” series of digital graphic novels.

Maze A Thon
Just five days before Christmas, another game developer released their very first game for the Kindle: Maze A Thon. You maneuver a cartoon mouse with your four-way controller, trying to navigate all the passages to a very elusive piece of cheese. There’s three maze styles — including wrap-around mazes which scroll off the Kindle’s screen, as well as “cubetastic” mazes (where the paths actually wrap around the six sides of a three-dimensional cube!) The mazes are generated at random, so it’s never the same maze twice, and at 99 cents, it’s already become one of the 50 best-selling items in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

New York Times Crosswords
For $1.99, you can also get a set of 30 easy crossword puzzles from the New York Times. (Or, for $4.99, purchase a larger set of 90 puzzles.) And instead of easy puzzles, you can also purchase a volume of “challenging” puzzles instead, in either a 30- or 90-puzzle set. The first set of games was released on December 21, and some users complained that its interface was a little slow to respond. But there’s also a built-in feature that will offer you hints — something that you’ll never get from a crossword puzzle in the newspaper!

Choice of the Broadsides and Choice of the Dragon
The week before Christmas also saw the launch of two text adventure games — and if you purchase them before midnight on Monday, they’re just 99 cents! (When they were released in December, they cost $4.99 apiece!) “Fire the starboard broadside!” shouts the Caption of the H.M.S. Courageous, as it engages in a fierce cannon battle with an enemy ship. Choice of the Broadsides lets you choose your response at key points in the story — for example, when one of your crew-member’s is wounded and needs medical attention. And in Choice of the Dragon, you’re not the junior commander on a war frigate, but a flying and fire-breathing dragon — so the choices can feel even more personal!

Brain Bump
This is probably the newest of the new games on the Kindle, since it was released just a week ago, on January 21. Brain Bump is a straightforward trivia game, presenting multiple choice questions about books and keeping track of how long you can maintain your “brain streak” of right answers. The questions cover everything from The Lord of the Rings to Shakespeare (though one reviewer on Amazon even complained that too many of the questions were about Lord of the Rings). Like any trivia quiz, you may have trouble if you haven’t read the books in the question. But for what it’s worth, the game costs just 99 cents — and it will always be the first trivia game ever released on the Kindle.

The Best Kindle Tips and Tricks for New Users

Birthday cake drawing

I’m hoping I’ve discovered some new tricks that will surprise even experienced Kindle users. But first, here’s my favorite tip of all.

Jump to the Kindle Store

The Kindle has a built-in shortcut that will take you straight to the front page of Amazon’s Kindle store. Just press the ALT key and HOME button at the same time — and your Kindle will do the rest!

And there’s always lots to see on the front page of The Kindle Store. You can browse through Amazon’s list of magazines, newspapers, and blogs — and, of course, ebooks. There’s the New York Times best-seller list, plus Amazon’s featured “New and Noteworthy” ebooks, and even some personalized book recommendations at the bottom of the page. (But here’s Amazon’s dirtiest secret. Sometimes they’re only recommending a book because someone paid them to, according to a long but fascinating new article about bookstores in The Boston Review!)

Improve your Web Browsing with Kinstant

Last week I discovered a free web site called Kinstant — and it makes it much easier to then surf to most other sites on the web. “The Kindle includes a built-in web browser,” Kinstant’s webmaster explains, “but most websites are not easily viewed on the Kindle’s grayscale e-Ink screen. Kinstant helps Kindle owners get more mileage out of their devices: by connecting them to Kindle-compatible websites, and by filtering sites to achieve faster download speeds.”

Once you’re at KInstant.com, you can enter URLs into their text-entry windows — and usually it’ll pull them up with much better than you’d normally see on your Kindle. The site launched just seven weeks ago, but it’s already become my most frequently used bookmark on the Kindle!

Erase Everything You’ve Typed

Whenever you’re typing something into your Kindle, there’s an easy way to erase everything and start over again. Just press the ALT and DEL key! Whether you’re typing a note, a URL, or even some search words, those two keys together will instantly “clear” the text entry field — so you can start over from the beginning!

Get a Free Blog for your Kindle

In many cases, it’s possible to read a blog on your Kindle for a small monthly subscription fee, usually just 99 cents a month. But there’s eight blogs for the Kindle which are absolutely free. The first free blog on the Kindle is the “Amazon Daily” blog — published by Amazon — which highlights interesting products throughout their massive online store. There’s posts about music, movies, food, and toys — plus books, ebooks, and the Kindle. The posts come from seven different blogs that are published by Amazon, and you can also subscribe to any one of those seven blogs individually. To scroll through the list, just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/freekindleblogs

If you’d first like to try a sample of the “Amazon Daily” blog, you can click here to read it on the web! It’s currently the #1 “Arts and Entertainment” blog in Amazon’s store — though for a long time it was the only that was free, so it had an advantage that the other blogs didn’t. (But don’t blame the bloggers if you think their subscription fee is too high. It’s actually Amazon who sets the price of any blog which is available on the Kindle!)

There’s Free Games For the Kindle

You can learn a lot by browsing Amazon’s list of the best-selling titles — especially the “free” section. Here’s a list of some of the great games which are now available for free in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

Every Word
Shuffled Row
Three “Junior Jumble” Puzzles

But last week my friend “MacLifer” sent me a wonderful tip about another free game that you can play on the Kindle — a game that goes back more than 30 years. It’s one of the very first computer games ever — a miniature version of the classic text adventure game Zork. “Use your browser and check out kindlequest.com,” and it’s the adventure game from back in the Apple ][ days of yore; albeit a somewhat stripped down version…”

“It plays fine on the Kindle for those interested in it!”

That’s it for today. But if you’re looking for more information, click here to read “My 10 Best Kindle Tips and Tricks” and “Five MORE of My Best Kindle Tips and Tricks.”

Click here to subscribe to this blog on your Kindle!

Or click here to buy Kindle Shortcuts, Hidden Features, Kindle-Friendly Websites, Free eBooks & Email From Kindle: Concise User Guide

A 50% discount on five Kindle games!

EA Monopoly for the Kindle

It’s a Christmas miracle! Some of the best games for the Kindle have been slashed in price, down 50%, for the next two weeks. And Amazon’s even released a new free game this month for the Kindle — plus a new text adventure — so if you’ve been waiting to try Kindle games, this is the perfect opportunity.

These aren’t just any games — they’re some of the best-known games in the world. For example, Hasbro has licensed both Scrabble and Monopoly to a Kindle game designer, but originally they were both priced at $5.00. (Scrabble was just released in September, and Monopoly is a brand-new Kindle game — just in time for the holidays.) Now both games are just $2.49 — and in addition, there’s also a 50% reduction in the price of Sudoku, Texas Hold ‘Em, and Solitaire, down to just $1.99.

These aren’t just knock-off games. They were created by one of the best known game designers in the industry. Electronic Arts was founded back in 1982, according to Wikipedia, and now earns more than $4 billion a year in revenue. (They’re the home of the famous Sims games, as well as the Command and Conquer series, and even some Harry Potter games.) They’d done a good job with their game designs, and this afternoon, I personally “field tested” both Scrabble and Monopoly. They both feel exactly like the classic board games — except, of course, they’re much smaller, and in black-and-white, and most of the game commands are entered using a five-way controller…

The nicest thing about EA’s “Solitaire” game is it’s really 12 different games in one. There’s the classic “Klondike” version of solitaire (which is the one that ships with Windows) — but there’s also games like FreeCell, Canfield, Yukon, and Baker’s Dozen. And while there’s been other versions of Sudoku for the Kindle, EA did a really nice job with theirs. It includes a feature that lets you write notes on possible numbers for each square — which can sometimes provide valuable clues on where the other numbers go.

You can buy all five games for just $11.00 — and then have them forever on your Kindle. The fifth game is Texas Hold ‘Em (where players create a poker hand by matching their two concealed cards to five face-up cards on the table.) That sounds simple, but EA added lots of extra features, like the “Play Career” version where you have to earn your way up into high-stakes games. And there’s even an in-game advisor — an avatar named Amy — so if you’re not sure what to do, you press a for Amy.

And earlier this month Amazon Digital Services released a brand new, free version of Blackjack. I thought the classic card game would be simple and boring, but they’d included all the extra casino features like buying “insurance” against a dealer 21 or doubling your bet for the next “hit.” I know some people resist games on the Kindle, because they want it to be a dedicated reading device. But for me it’s become an all-around companion that can entertain me if I end up trapped in the lobby of an auto repair shop. If I don’t want to read, I can surf the web, or burn a few minutes playing a game.

I’d been wondering when someone would write an old school “text adventure” for the Kindle — and then discovered that Amazon just released one last Tuesday. It’s a dark superhero/detective game called “Dusk World”. And don’t forget, in October Amazon also released a new, free version of Minesweeper that you can download to your Kindle.

As I tested out all the new Kindle games, I felt like a kid opening up his Christmas presents early. Like any new toy, all the novelty may wear off eventually. But for a least a few minutes, they’ll be my favorite toy in the world…

The 10 Best Games for the Kindle

Amazon Kindle solitaire game

I was jealous. My friend bragged that in April, Barnes and Noble upgraded the Nook with the ability to play two games — chess and Sudoku. But Amazon was determined not to get left behind, and now games are appearing in Amazon’s Kindle store. In fact, four of the top 15 items on Amazon’s best-selling list are now games — and all four of them are free!

I count a total of eight games on the Kindle store’s top 100 list — there’s three more on the paid list, and a fifth free game ranked #42. And if you search through the Kindle store, it turns out there’s a lot more! Here’s a run-down of some of the best games available for the Kindle – along with some quick reviews, and a little trivia.

Tower of Hanoi
This is a classic math puzzle that was invented in 1883. It’s a very simple game, but the graphics are effective, and it’s a challenging brain teaser. Can you move all eight disks from tower one to one of the other two towers, without ever placing a disk onto one that’s smaller? Once you’ve solved it, you won’t necessarily want to play it again — especially if you know the legend behind it. The story goes that there’s a far-away temple where priests spend their lifetimes trying to find a solution — and on the day that they do, the world will end!

There’s always been a free version of Minesweeper that’s built into the Kindle. (Just press the Alt and Shift keys, along with the letter M. It even words on a Kindle 1!) But fortunately, three weeks ago Amazon released an improved version of Minesweeper which has already become the second-most popular item in Amazon’s Kindle store (behind only a free novel called Deceit). One review on Amazon perfectly crystallized the dilemma now facing Kindle owners about whether to download Kindle games to appear on their home page. “I really didn’t need this – while not as addictive to me as the Kindle version of Scrabble… after playing it several times I see it as yet another thing that is going to take me away from reading…”

It used to be painful to play Sudoko on the original Kindle, but the five-way controller makes it much easier to enter your guesses. (The word Sudoku roughly translates to “the numbers must occur only once,” since you’re trying to determine the right location for each of the digits between one and nine — in every nine-square row, column and box.) Dell Puzzle magazines (in New York City) claims they actually published the first Sudoku puzzle — under the name “Number Place” — in 1979. According to a British newspaper, it was 1984 when the puzzle “was spotted, imitated and embraced in puzzle-obsessed Japan…where the alphabet is ill-suited to crosswords.” Eventually, an Australian who moved to Hong Kong spotted the puzzle, and then began selling his own version to newspapers in England.

This variation features a smaller grid, but turns it into a tricky logic puzzle. There’s no numbers filled in, but there’s smaller rectangles which contain a mathematical clue. (For example: all the numbers add up to six.) It’s challenging, but it’s much more rewarding when you finally deduce a number. The game is also called KenKen, and was developed just six years ago by a Japanese math teacher, according to Wikipedia. “The numbers in Sudoku could be replaced with melons and you would still be able to play,” the teacher told one newspaper. “In KenKen the value of the numbers is absolutely central to the solution.”

Shuffled Row
It was released on August 2, and it’s still probably the best game available for the Kindle. (Nine letters gradually appear at the top of the screen, and you score points by selecting letters to form words — the longer the better.) It’s a word game with beat-the-clock excitement — and it’s challenging to try to beat your own high scores, both for individual words or for games. (My best word was jawlines — worth 108 points!) The game goes by fast, though I guess you could always hit the home key if you wanted more time to think. And it goes by even faster if you follow Amazon’s strategy tip: press the space key to make the next letter appear instantly!

Every Word
Released in August, “Every Word” is still #7 on Amazon’s list of “free best-sellers” list. The biggest problem with this game is it includes a lot of obscure words which you’d never be able to guess. (For example, when did “Rick” become an actual word?) This actually got the developers into some trouble, since their dictionary also apparently contained some “inappropriate” slang words. Amazon released a sanitized version on September 15, and it’s been popular ever since.

Word Morph
I was a little disappointed by a game called “Word Morph” — and another reviewer on Amazon’s web site agreed. “Although you can sort of play it on the Kindle using the Notes feature, this is NOT A KINDLE GAME!!!! This is just a puzzle book. It is not interactive in the sense of the other Kindle Games like Scrabble and Shuffled Row.” The game presents two words, and challenges you to make the first word into a new word by changing one letter. Then you continue making new words until you’ve “morphed” the first word into the second word. It turns out there’s many “possible solutions” — so I didn’t always get the satisfaction of coming up with the “right answer.” But it’s currently ranked #42 on Amazon’s list of best-selling free items.

Triple Town
It looks a little like Sim City, but with much simpler graphics. “This is a game that can be played for minutes or hours at a time,” according to the game’s page on Amazon, where it’s received 37 five-star reviews. Released just three weeks ago, it’s already ranked #21 on Amazon’s best-seller list, even though it sells for $2.99. “Overall, the game is a bit basic, which is why I only gave it 4 stars,” noted one reviewer on Amazon. “However, the graphics are quite nice, the tutorial is very clear and detailed. The game is fun and relaxing and works great on Kindle!”

Solitaire and Scrabble
Electronic Arts has been distributing computer games for nearly 30 years, and they’d finally brought their expertise to the Kindle. Solitaire was released just three weeks ago (and is currently #4 in the Kindle store), while Scrabble was released September 23 (and ranks #37). “EA Solitaire” contains 12 different versions of the popular one-player card game, and Scrabble also comes with a one-player option. Using the Kindle is such a new experience, some users may be glad to see some games that they actually recognize!

Note: Among Amazon’s free best-sellers is a book called “Games for Everybody.” It’s currently ranked #62, but it’s just instructions for playing games — and not the games themselves. “This book contains short, simple, and to the point instructions for games that can be played by children, adults and to mark special occasions…” wrote one reviewer, adding “There are also 106 games that adults can play and enjoy an evening rather than sitting around and gossiping or drinking or watching TV.” I’m a little curious about what games are in there — but honestly, I’d rather be reading!

Amazon Announces a Big New Kindle Feature

Big news icon - The New York Times newspaper front page

There’s been a lot of big Kindle news over the weekend. The weirdest thing is, Amazon didn’t announce it in a press release. Instead, the posters in Amazon’s Kindle forum suddenly received a surprise visit from “the Amazon Kindle team.” It created a flurry of excitement, drawing nearly 300 responses within its first 24 hours.

“We wanted to let you know about two new features coming soon,” the post began…and yes, it turns out that it’s very big news.

First, we’re making Kindle newspapers and magazines readable on our free Kindle apps… In the coming weeks, many newspapers and magazines will be available on our Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, and then we’ll be adding this functionality to Kindle for Android and our other apps down the road…

Second, later this year, we’ll be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period.

Amazon’s Kindle team cautioned that “not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.” And at least one user adopted a wait-and-see approach, arguing that “the success of the Lending feature depends on the percentage of ebooks that can be lent out.” But I was more excited about how Amazon was making a big commitment to other forms of reading materials. “Our vision is Buy Once, Read Everywhere,” they added in their announcement, “and we’re excited to make this possible for Kindle periodicals in the same way that it works now for Kindle books.”

This should help Amazon attract more subscribers to the newspapers, and magazines in the Kindle store, and it might even help them start recruiting more Kindle users. (Their announcement suggested that you could read the periodicals “even if you don’t have your Kindle with you or don’t yet own a Kindle.”) Amazon promised “more details when we launch this in the coming weeks,” but I’m already really excited. I’ve been comparing all the different features on my new Kindle, and it’s got me thinking about the way the devices have evolved.

The original “Kindle 1” was a wonderful reading experience, but it was almost impossible to use it to play games. But now the Kindle is becoming a real full-featured app for other portable devices — while even the Kindle itself is getting its own games and apps! I was thinking about this when reading a review at the unofficial Kindle site, “Blog Kindle”. Electronic Arts is one of the biggest manufacturers of cool video games, and they’ve just released a slick new version of Solitaire for the Kindle.

“The quality of the game is definitely worth the money,” the blog notes, since there’s actually 12 different card games in one. According to the game’s description on Amazon, it includes “the Klondike game you know and love, as well as 11 other variants: Pyramid, Yukon, Golf, Freecell, Wasp, Peaks, Canfield, Spiderette, Eliminator, Easthaven, and Baker’s Dozen.” It’s already the best-selling game on Amazon, and in fact, it’s outselling everything in Amazon’s Kindle store. (Except a new Lee Child thriller called “Worth Dying For.”)

Along with Amazon’s announcements, it all just made me feel like the Kindle is getting even better. Amazon is adding new features, while game-makers are scurrying to develop Kindle games, and lots of unexpectedly good things have suddenly started to happen.

We’re living in interesting times…

How to Play Games on the Kindle!

Yes, it is possible to play games on your Kindle. (I even wrote a game for the Kindle, which you can try here!) Click here for my updated list of 100 games you can play on your Kindle — including eight free ones. There’s also the 10 best games for your Kindle and all my other posts about playing games on the Kindle.

But when I first got my original Kindle 1, it wasn’t nearly this easy to play games. Here’s my original post – written about my Kindle 1 – so you can see how much better things have gotten!

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It turns out you can play Sudoku on your Kindle – and some other games too!

I was feeling a little jealous because Barnes and Noble had upgraded the Nook so it offered users the ability to play Sudoku. And then I discovered that it’s also possible to play Sudoku on your Kindle! That link leads to several interactive Sudoku puzzle books that you can download, and they’re played using the Kindle’s wireless web connection. Use your menu to select the row where you’ll enter a number, and then choose the appropriate square within that row.

I ordered a sample from several of these Sudoku books, and ended up with a nice collection of free Sudoku puzzles for my Kindle. Having said that, it was still a horribly clunky way to play Sudoku. (It takes almost 10 seconds to enter every number.) And on my original edition Kindle, the squares were simply labeled “Input Field”. I had to count each separate “Input Field” until I’d figured out which square I was looking for!

It’s also possible to play Tic Tac Toe on your Kindle — if you order the appropriate “book” from the Kindle Store. Tic Tac Toe (Kindle Edition) uses the same format, letting you select the row for your move with the menu — and then selecting the appropriate square. It was also a little clunky. On my original Kindle, the menu would still say “Zoom Image” if a square already had an X or O in it — while the empty squares were labeled “Follow Link” in the menu. Yes, it’s possible to play a game of Tic Tac Toe using this book. But what’s hardest about winning the game is simply navigating the menus!

And finally, it’s also possible to play Minesweeper on the Kindle. This is a free game that I’d just assumed was a hidden “Easter Egg” — a secret feature that was pre-installed, just to make users feel special when they discovered it. Hold down the Alt key and the shift key directly above it while also typing M at the same time, and a grey 8 by 10 grid appears on the screen. You use the keys on the keyboard to navigate to the square for your next guess, and the space key reveals whether that square contains a number or an exploding mine! Like the other games, it’s a little clunky.

And to tell you the truth, I’d rather use my Kindle for reading!

UPDATE: Ironically, I just discovered this blog post has become one of Google’s top matches for the phrase: “Can I play Sudoku on a Kindle!” (And “Is it possible to play games on the Kindle?”) But it turns out there’s an even more famous game that you can play on the Kindle: Jumble puzzles!

I’m sure you’ve seen these “scrambled word” puzzles in your daily newspaper. (Circles in the squares mark all the letters which appear in the final set of scrambled words — which is usually the punchline to a question asked in the cartoon.) I’ve always loved doing Jumble puzzles (which I’ve also seen called “the Junior Jumble”).

And now you can play them on your Kindle!