Amazon Reveals Their Most Popular Authors!

Amazon Author Rank

It took a while before I finally noticed that had Amazon started releasing some fun (and very useful) new information. It’s always been possible to check Amazon’s list of their best-selling Kindle ebooks (and print books). But now a new page Amazon also reveals their best-selling authors!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s new list, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/TopAmazonAuthors

It’s called “Amazon Author Rank,” and it’s updated every hour. (I was really touched to see Maya Angelou rising to the #1 last month, as the news spread about her death…) And each author’s name is followed by a list of their most popular books. It’s a great way to find new books to read — and to discover books that other readers enjoy.

I was really surprised by the variety on the list. Amazon’s most popular authors seemed to be writing in entirely different genres. James Patterson was #6 on Saturday morning — the author of mystery thrillers like Unlucky 13 (in a series he’s named “Women’s Murder Club.”) But right below him was Nora Roberts, the romance novelist, whose most popular books are the three Ireland-themed books in “The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy”.

And the #1 most-popular author on Amazon was the author of some great literary fiction. John Green wrote The Fault in Our Stars, which Time magazine called the best fiction book of 2012, and last month it was chosen by The Today Show as the pick for their virtual book club. It tells the story of two teenagers who both have cancer, “kindred spirits, sharing an irreverent sense of humor and immense charm,” (according to the book’s description at Amazon). Amazon applauds the book for shwoing them bravely facing two enormous challenges at the same time. “Watching them fall in love even as they face universal questions of the human condition–How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning?–has a raw honesty that is deeply moving.

Of course, Amazon’s list also features Stephen King, whose most popular book hasn’t even been released yet! (When I checked on Saturday, Amazon was touting his new mystery, Mr. Mercedes — even though its release date was Wednesday, June 3rd!) And it’s nice to see that George R. R. Martin is still popular. His most popular book is the Game of Thrones box set — the whole Song of Ice and Fire Series (available on the Kindle for just $19.99)

I’m always looking for new books to read. And it looks like Amazon’s Author Rank is going to be a fun new way to find them!

Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s new list, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/TopAmazonAuthors

Amazon Announces Big Summer Kindle eBooks

Amazon Summer Reading

It feels like the first week of summer, since all across America people just enjoyed a sunny three-day weekend. It’s the last holiday before summer, and it always reminds me that fun times are just around the corner. And whatever you do this summer, Amazon wants to make sure that your Kindle is freshly stocked with new Kindle ebooks. They’ve just created a special “Summer Reading” page — and it’s really fun to browse through Amazon’s list of Summer Reads!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s page, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/KindleSummer

There’s 1,890 books on the list — but Amazon’s broken them down into some interesting categories. There’s recommendations, “books to explore,” young adult beach reads, and “compelling true stories”. And even these categories are broken down further into subcategories. For example, the “Recommended Summer Reads” has an intriguing new section called “Blockbusters”. It’s a page where Amazon’s called out 20 of the most highly-anticipated of the summer — including some new books by some very popular authors!


Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

This Tuesday, Stephen King releases a brand new mystery-thriller in which a killer taunts a retired detective who’s still trying to bring him to justice. This 448-page novel delivers all the rich details of Stephen King’s fiction, as well as a complicated game of cat-and-mouse. King actually flashes to the killer’s point of view, and delivers the narration in a “present tense” style which Booklist said makes the story “feel pretty darn fresh. Big, smashing climax, too.” And Amazon notes on the book’s page that Stephen King is already their #1 most popular author not just in the Horror category, but also for writing Contemporary Fiction!


Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

Stephen King once called Jack Reacher “the coolest continuing series character now on offer,” and Reacher is also one of the most popular characters among Kindle readers. The character’s creator, Lee Child, became one of the first five authors to ever sell more than one million ebooks on the Kindle, and according to Amazon, he’s currently their #14 most-popular author. At the end of this summer, he’ll be releasing the newest Jack Reacher novel — and this time, it’s Personal. That’s the name of the book, and it follows an assassination attempt on the President of France. “Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him…..”


Top Secret Twenty-One: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich

It’s the 21st novel in this best-selling series of comic mysteries, and this one involves a popular used car dealer who’s out on bail — and missing. There’s dead ends and dead bodies, according to the book’s description at Amazon, and no clues for Joe Morelli (described as “the city’s hottest cop.”) Meanwhile, assassins are targetting bounty hunter Ranger (described as “Stephanie’s greatest temptation“), and somewhere in the mix is a crazy grandmother and a pack of feral Chihuahus. This book will finally be released on June 17th, but it’s already become Amazon’s top 10 best-selling books in their Humorous Fiction category! (And of course, Evanoich has also sold more than one million Kindle ebooks.)

If you just can’t wait until June 17th, Evanovich has also just released a new author co-authored with Lee Goldberg — a “Fox and O’Hare” mystery called The Chase!


Invisible by James Patterson and David Ellis

They thought she was crazy, but Emmy Dockery is convinced that hundreds of unsolved kidnappings and murders are connected. She’s an FBI researcher on a leave of absence — who’s now covering the walls of her bedroom with newspaper clippings about the crimes. Has she found the one piece of evidence that connects them all? More inexplicable murders are piling up in a book that Amazon describes as “James Patterson’s scariest, most chilling stand-alone thriller yet.”


Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s page, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/KindleSummer

New Books for Summer of 2014

Fun Moments in eBook History with Stephen King

Stephen King Kindle horror story ebook - UR

Stephen King lived his own amazing story. He travelled back in time to the year 2000 in order to write the first massively successful ebook. Or something like that. At least, that’s what I was thinking when I first discovered that Stephen King actually released the first mass-market ebook over 10 years ago, and within 24 hours he’d achieved an amazing 400,000 downloads!

In the story, a young man has a strange adventure while hitchhiking to the hospital bed of his sick mother. (Fans may remember the novella, which was called Riding the Bullet, and is still available as a Kindle ebook.) Stephen King’s profits may not have set a record, since according to Business Week more than 90% of those readers downloaded that book for free. But Stephen King still remained a pioneer in ebooks, and it was just five years ago that he finally read his first book using the Kindle.


“The advance publicity says it looks like a paperback book, but it really doesn’t. It’s a panel of white plastic with a screen in the middle and one of those annoying teeny-tiny keyboards most suited to the fingers of Keebler elves. Full disclosure: I have not yet used the teeny-tiny keyboard, and really see no need for it. Keyboards are for writing. The Kindle is for reading…”

I really like the way Stephen King described WhisperNet as “the electronic ether, where even now a million books are flying overhead, like paper angels without the paper, if you know what I mean.” And soon King had decided to write his own spooky story that was about the Kindle itself! After writing the article Amazon had asked his agent if King wanted to write an original story for the release of the Kindle 2. “I decided I would like to write a story for the Kindle, but only if I could do one about the Kindle. Gadgets fascinate me, particularly if I can think of a way they might get weird.”

That story is called Ur (and you can still download it to your Kindle for just $3.19.) “At the time the Amazon request came in, I’d been playing with an idea about a guy who starts getting e-mails from the dead,” King wrote in Entertainment Weekly. “The story I wrote, Ur, was about an e-reader that can access books and newspapers from alternate worlds. I realized I might get trashed in some of the literary blogs, where I would be accused of shilling for Jeff Bezos & Co., but that didn’t bother me much; in my career, I have been trashed by experts, and I’m still standing.”

Since then, Stephen King seems to have developed a good relationship with Amazon. Just a few months ago, he provided Amazon with a special list of his three favorite books from 2012. (Say You’re Sorry, And When She Was Good, and The Good Son. And on Amazon’s list of the best-selling Kindle ebooks of 2011, Stephen King had two books in the top 50. If you’re browsing through magazines in the Kindle Store, you can even have Amazon send you a free edition of Fantasy & Science Fiction, the magazine where King first published the short stories which became the first volume of The Dark Tower. Sign up for your free subscription by pointing your web browser to tinyurl.com/FreeSciFiMag . It’s “the best fiction magazine in America,” reads the endorsement from King himself.

It must be exciting to spend 12 years writing ebooks, only to see digital book-reading technology make its way from the world of fiction into the real world!


Click here to download UR

And if you want to travel back in time to 2000, Riding the Bullet also appeared in a King collection called “Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales.”

Stephen King releases a Kindle Exclusive

Stephen_King_Comicon

Stephen King did something strange on Friday. He crept into the Kindle Store, and released a new exclusive that he’d just finished writing. But it wasn’t a horror novel, or even a scary short story. Instead, it was a personal essay about something dangerous in the real world. Stephen King released a Kindle Single called Guns.

For a shortcut, just point your web browser to
tinyURL.com/KingOnGuns

It’s a surprisingly good read, trying to offer the same understanding of our universal fears that have characterized his novels. Using taut prose, he describes how the media reacts to the horrors of a shooting. (“Few of the trigger-pullers are middle-aged, and practically none are old. Some are young men; many are just boys. The Jonesboro, Arkansas, school shooters were 13 and 11…”) According to a British newspaper, he’d just finished writing the essay less than 10 days ago. “Once I finished writing Guns I wanted it published quickly,” King announced in a statement on Friday, “and Kindle Singles provided an excellent fit.”

Amazon was delighted. (“It’s exciting to offer a way for a brilliant writer like King to publish quickly,” Amazon added in the same press release, “and to reach a large audience of loyal readers and new customers.”) David Blum, editor of Kindle Singles, said that they’d agreed to publish King’s essay within hours of receiving it. “By that night we had accepted it and scheduled for publication…”

It’s already become the #1 best-seller in the nonfiction section of Amazon’s store for Kindle Singles. (Though ironically, the #2 best-seller in the nonfiction section is a parody about the life of Vice President Biden by The Onion.) But King had another reason for publishing this 25-page essay as a Kindle Single, according to the article in Britain’s Guardian newspaper. He “wanted it published as soon as possible, given the Obama administration’s looming battle with the National Rifle Association and its allies.”

America is in the middle of a nationwide debate about the possibility of new gun control laws. And King’s essay “stresses that he is an unapologetic gun-owner with at least half a foot in the conservative camp of the US divide,” the Guardian notes. But he’s calling for a ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons, calling them weapons of mass destruction. “When lunatics want to make war on the unarmed and unprepared, these are the weapons they use.”

The essay also takes a surprising turn when King remembers that some teenaged gunman claimed that their inspiration came from a story written by Stephen King — the 1977 novel Rage. King wrote it when he was a teenager himself, and later published it under his pen name, Richard Bachman. According to the Guardian, King’s essay “did not apologise for writing Rage — ‘no, sir, no ma’am’ — because it told the truth about high-school alienation and spoke to troubled adolescents who ‘were already broken’. However, he said, he ordered his publisher to withdraw the book because it had proved dangerous.”

“My book did not break (them) or turn them into killers,” reads a quote from King’s essay on The Huffington Post. “[T]hey found something in my book that spoke to them because they were already broken. Yet I did see Rage as a possible accelerant which is why I pulled it from sale. You don’t leave a can of gasoline where a boy with firebug tendencies can lay hands on it.”

King remains firm in his opposition to censorship, but also criticizes the staunch gun advocates who take an absolute position which he characterizes as “to hell with the collateral damage”.

I didn’t pull Rage from publication because the law demanded it; I was protected under the First Amendment and the law couldn’t demand it. I pulled it because in my judgement it might be hurting people, and that made it the responsible thing to do. Assault weapons will remain readily available to crazy people until the powerful pro-gun forces in this country decide to do a similar turnaround. They must accept responsibility, recognizing that responsilibity is not the same as culpability. They need to say, ‘we support these measures not because the law demands we support them, but because it’s the sensible thing.’

Until that happens, shooting sprees will continue.

Amazon Announces “Best Books of 2012”

Amazon's List of the Best Books of 2012

The editors at Amazon have just announced their list of the very best books of 2012. They’ve also chosen their Best Book of the Year — and created 24 more “top 10” lists for different categories, including fiction, romance, mystery, and this year’s 10 best Kindle Singles. They’ve even got a list where Stephen King chooses his Top 10 favorite books of the year, along with other famous authors like Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald. Plus, each individual category also has its own a “best book of the year.”

Visit Amazon’s “Best Books of 2012” page at tinyurl.com/BestBooksOf2012

“We are confident that we’ve chosen a list that customers will be excited about,” announced Amazon’s Editorial Director for the Kindle and Books at Amazon.com, Sara Nelson. And on a special web page, Amazon explains that “All year, the Amazon Books editorial team reads voraciously, tracking down and sharing the most fascinating, compelling, enlightening, and entertaining books…” Their pick for the best book of the year was The Round House, about a teenager’s investigation into a family tragedy on a reservation in North Dakota. Here’s Amazon’s complete list of the Top 10 Books of 2012 — and what they had to say about them.


1. The Round House by Louise Erdric
“Likely to be dubbed the Native American To Kill a Mockingbird, Erdrich’s moving, complex and surprisingly uplifting new novel tells of a boy’s coming of age in the wake of a brutal, racist attack on his mother.”

2. The Yellow Birds: A Novel by Kevin Powers
“With this compact and emotional debut novel, Iraq War veteran Powers eyes the casual violence of war with a poet’s precision, moving confidently between scenes of blunt atrocity and almost hallucinatory detachment.”

3. Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
“Masterfully plotted from start to finish, the suspense doesn’t waver for one page. It’s one of those books you will feel the need to discuss immediately after finishing. The ending punches you in the gut.”

4. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
“As much an homage to literature as to the mother who shared it with him, Schwalbe’s chronicling of his mother’s death to cancer—they wait, they talk, they read together—is nothing less than captivating.”

5. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: A Novel by Ben Fountain
“Debut novelist Fountain follows a squad of marines as they engage in a ‘victory tour’ in the States. Set mostly during halftime at a Dallas Cowboy’s football game, Fountain skillfully illustrates what it’s like to go to war, and how bizarre and disconcerting it can be for these grunts to return from combat to the country they love.”

6. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
“This searing portrait of life in a Mumbai slum reads like a novel, but it’s all-too-true. Pulitzer Prize-winner Boo’s writing is superb, and the depth and courage of her reporting from this hidden world is astonishing.”

7. A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
“Both disturbing and funny, this novel from onetime wunderkind Eggers shows surprising depth. A man’s wayward attempt to find himself and retake his life delivers him to Saudi Arabia but the journey abroad is also internal, and it ends up saying as much about life in America as in the Middle East.”

8. The Middlesteins: A Novel by Jami Attenberg
“A quick read that’s more complex than it seems at first, this story about a Midwestern Jewish family is both recognizable (sometimes uncomfortably so) and entertainingly idiosyncratic.”

9. Mortality by Christopher Hitchens
“Like the late author himself, this book is funny, smart, entertaining and unflinching to the end. Mortality has the power to change ideas that you might have held immutable—which is one of the best things you can say about a book.”

10. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
“This soulful novel originally written for teenagers tackles big subjects – life, death, love – with the perfect blend of levity and heart-swelling emotion.”



There’s a humorous note on the web page where Amazon’s announcing their final list. “Picking the best of anything is always difficult, but this year Sara Nelson and the gang had a different kind of difficulty: an embarrassment of riches. All year long we read and loved so many books that the usually spirited Best of the Year meetings were, well, especially spirited.” I can only imagine what that discussion must’ve looked like, but in the end, Amazon explains, we arrived at a list that we’re proud of, offering something for everyone.

“Enjoy!”

Visit Amazon’s “Best Books of 2012” page at tinyurl.com/BestBooksOf2012

Amazon’s Free Kindle Science Fiction Magazine!

Free Kindle Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine cover illustration

It’s “the best fiction magazine in America,” according to Stephen King. And Amazon’s sending it to your Kindle for free!

It’s “Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine,” a legendary collection of short stories and commentary which has been publishing for over 60 years. “Each bimonthly issue offers compelling short fiction,” Amazon explained in a press release, plus ,”the science-fiction field’s most respected and outspoken opinions on books, films, and science.” You can sign up for your free subscription by pointing your web browser to tinyurl.com/FreeSciFiMag .) And according to Wikipedia, this magazine has a long history of publishing some of the world’s most imaginative authors.

For example, in October of 1978, they began publishing all the Stephen King short stories which would later appear in the first volume of “The Dark Tower”. They published Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (which ran as a serial in 1959 titled “Starship Soldier”). They published the novella “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, and Harlan Ellison was a regular columnist, contributing short stories like “Jeffty is Five” and “The Deathbird”. And the magazine even published Kurt Vonnegut’s short story Harrison Bergeron in 1961 — a story which later appeared in the collection “Welcome to the Monkey House”. (It’s set in the year 2081, shortly after the United States passes the 213th amendment to its Constitution mandating absolute equality…)

Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine is “the definitive magazine of the genre,” according to Amazon’s Vice President for Kindle Content. “We know our Kindle customers are huge fans of this category, and we’re excited to offer them a free and exclusive subscription to the magazine to read anywhere.” There is one small caveat. Though each issue of the print edition — published six times a year — has a whopping 256 pages, Amazon’s free offer is for only a smaller “digest edition”. According to Amazon’s press release, subscribers “will get access to all of the magazine’s editorial content – editor’s recommendations, ‘Curiosities’ (odd books of enduring interest), film reviews, book reviews, cartoons and humor, and ‘Coming Attractions’ (highlights of each issue) – along with one short story, all at no cost.”

But you can also sign up your Kindle to receive the full 256-page edition for just 99 cents more — and it’s available exclusively on the Kindle. (Though it’s also available on the Kindle apps for the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android devices.) I’m a big fan of science fiction stories, so I’m seroiusly signing up to receive all 1,536 pages each year. I still remember when Stephen King a science fiction story about a Kindle which could receive descriptions of events from the future.

In real life, Stephen King has always been a big fan of the Kindle — and judging by Amazon’s latest press release, he’s even more excited now. When he heard the news about a free version of “Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine,” Stephen King had one more sentence to add.

“Kindle readers are in luck.”

Stephen King Gives New Interview About the Kindle

The Dark Tower book cover by Stephen King

Today the Wall Street Journal ran a fascinating interview with Stephen King, asking him how he feels about the Kindle. “I think it changes the reading experience,” the best-selling author told the Journal, saying that reading on the Kindle is “a little more ephemeral.” But of course, there’s also advantages to a technologically-enhanced reader, as King discovered when he’d downloaded a 700-page book onto his Kindle for research. “It didn’t have an index, but I was able to search by key words. And that’s something no physical book can do…”

He also sees other advantages in reading ebooks. 63-year-old King recently purchased a printed edition of Faceless Killers — a 1997 mystery by Henning Mankell — only to discover that its type was too small for him to read! But he’s still one of those people who loves a physical book, and even after buying an ebook of a new historical fiction novel, he also bought a hard copy just to display it on his shelf. “I want books as objects,” he admits. “It’s crazy, but there are people who collect stamps, too.”

His love of books is understandable, since he’s sold more than 500 million books himself, according to Wikipedia, writing more than 49 different novels. And a week from Tuesday, King will publish a new collection of four stories called “Full Dark, No Stars” (where at least one story is based on a real-life murder case — the story of a woman who discovers she’s married to a serial killer!) It will be available on the Kindle for just $14.99, but King also holds the distinction of having released the first mass-market ebook, over 10 years ago. And recently, he wrote a short story with its own strange twist which was actually about a Kindle-like reading device. “It took three days, and I’ve made about $80,000.”

Click here to download that short story — UR — to your Kindle.

Stephen King is the same age as James Patterson — who just sold his one millionth ebook in Amazon’s Kindle store on Tuesday — but apparently, King’s not a fan. In December of 2008 he’d called Patterson a “terrible writer,” and once described Patterson’s work as “dopey thrillers,” according to Wikipedia — though his remarks had a larger context. King heard J. K. Rowling read his books when she was young, and asked whether that had an influence. He names two authors he’d read himself as a young man — one whose writing had a much bigger impact on his style. But then he gets detoured into discussing which successful authors he would consider to be good authors — comparing J.K. Rowling to Stephenie Meyer, and eventually weighing in on Jodi Picoult, Dean Koontz, and even Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner.

So when King finally got to James Patterson, he was basically talking in bullet points, saying Patterson “is a terrible writer but he’s very very successful. People are attracted by the stories, by the pace…” And this July, Time magazine got to ask Patterson for his response to “critics like author Stephen King, who say you’re not a great prose stylist.” His answer? “I am not a great prose stylist. I’m a storyteller. There are thousands of people who don’t like what I do. Fortunately, there are millions who do…”

But the literary world continues to evolve and in Friday’s interview, King reveals that now almost half of his reading time is spent on ebooks. But he still adds that it’s hard to predict the future. “People like myself who grew up with books have a prejudice towards them,” he says, suggesting that maybe there’s room for both formats. “I think a lot of critics would argue that the Kindle is the right place for a lot of books that are disposable, books that are read on the plane.

“That might include my own books, if not all, then some.”

How Stephen King Made eBook History

Stephen King Kindle horror story ebook - UR

Stephen King lived his own amazing story. He travelled back in time to the year 2000 in order to write the first massively successful ebook. Or something like that. I just discovered Stephen King actually released the first mass-market ebook over 10 years ago, and within 24 hours he’d achieved an amazing 400,000 downloads!

In the story, a young man has a strange adventure while hitchhiking to the hospital bed of his sick mother. (Fans may remember the novella, which was called Riding the Bullet, and is still available as a Kindle ebook.) Stephen King’s profits may not have set a record, since according to Business Week more than 90% of those readers downloaded that book for free. But Stephen King still remained a pioneer in ebooks, and nearly three years ago, he finally read his first book using the Kindle.


“The advance publicity says it looks like a paperback book, but it really doesn’t. It’s a panel of white plastic with a screen in the middle and one of those annoying teeny-tiny keyboards most suited to the fingers of Keebler elves. Full disclosure: I have not yet used the teeny-tiny keyboard, and really see no need for it. Keyboards are for writing. The Kindle is for reading…”

I really like the way Stephen King described WhisperNet as “the electronic ether, where even now a million books are flying overhead, like paper angels without the paper, if you know what I mean.” And soon King had decided to write his own spooky story that was about the Kindle itself! After writing the article Amazon had asked his agent if King wanted to write an original story for the release of the Kindle 2. “I decided I would like to write a story for the Kindle, but only if I could do one about the Kindle. Gadgets fascinate me, particularly if I can think of a way they might get weird.”

That story is called Ur (and you can still download it to your Kindle for just $3.19.) “At the time the Amazon request came in, I’d been playing with an idea about a guy who starts getting e-mails from the dead,” King wrote in Entertainment Weekly. “The story I wrote, Ur, was about an e-reader that can access books and newspapers from alternate worlds.

“I realized I might get trashed in some of the literary blogs, where I would be accused of shilling for Jeff Bezos & Co., but that didn’t bother me much; in my career, I have been trashed by experts, and I’m still standing.”


Click here to download UR

And if you want to travel back in time to 2000, Riding the Bullet also appeared in a King collection called “Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales.”