Amazon vs. The Daily Show

John Goodman represents Amazon on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

It’s always fun when the Kindle works its way into the public discussion — and Amazon too. Right now Kindle Fire owners can watch a new sitcom starring John Goodman just by going to “Videos” on their Kindle Fire tablets. It’s called Alpha House, and that same show is also available on the web. (For a shortcut, point your web browser to tinyurl.com/GoodmanShow )

The first three episodes are free for anyone, and the whole series is available free to members of Amazon’s “Prime” shipping service. But this all led to a fun conversation that I’d like to stow away in a time capsule. John Goodman appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote this Amazon-only series. And it perfectly captures that moment in time when the world realized: wait, Amazon is producing TV shows?!

Jon Stewart was baffled…


JON STEWART: How does this Amazon thing — I didn’t know Amazon did — did, uh, uh, television shows. Is that a…you click on the site? (Audience laughs) Is that — how… Is that how it happens? Can you use —

JOHN GOODMAN: I don’t know! (They both laugh) I don’t know! I’m selling their product…I’m just a cog in their machine of world domination! I just — as long as they out-point Walmart, I’m cool. No, I uh — there’s a gizmo you buy with Amazon, and then you get free TV with it.

STEWART: Oh this is — so it runs only on the Amazon?

GOODMAN: Yes, as far as I know. (Eyes dart nervously. Audience laughs…)


To watch their whole interview online, you can point your web browser to tinyurl.com/AmazonDailyShow. But what’s really interesting is that John Goodman was wrong! You can also watch Amazon Instant Video on the web (where the first three episodes of his show are already available for free)… The first episode even opens with a funny cameo by Bill Murray!

But then the interview gets into an interesting discussion about how the show is created — and the differences between online and broadcast television.


STEWART: Did they — let me ask you a question. If we go on real TV, we gotta bleep all the **** words out. And that’s the only pleasure of doing television these days, let’s just face it.

GOODMAN: It really is.

STEWART: So here’s how you know if it’s real or not. Do they pay you in Amazon points? If they pay you in Amazon points…

GOODMAN: Who doesn’t get paid in Amazon points?

STEWART: How did they — who was the creator of this program? How did this all…

GOODMAN: Garry Trudeau, the creator of Doonesbury

STEWART: (Audience applauds). Tremendous. That’s wonderful.

GOODMAN: He writes these incredible scripts. They’re very funny, and, uh, Jonathan Alter…

STEWART: Oh yeah!

GOODMAN: Yeah, The great political writer.

STEWART: Writer for Newsweek, and he’s written many different books…

GOODMAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He’s a producer, he’s got the political angle on everything, he’s great to have around.

STEWART: That’s awesome. Trudeau is one of those guys, like my heroes, that — growing up and reading Doonesbury and just marvelling at the way he would take these storylines and carry them all the way through with the — you know, the quarterback who’s — working in — all the way through, in Vietnam and everything else. Remarkable guy.

GOODMAN: With the disabled veterans now. It’s an incredible ear. He’s a great writer.

STEWART: Is he on the set? Because I, you always…

GOODMAN: Crossing T’s and dotting I’s!

STEWART: Is he really?!

GOODMAN: Yeah! Yeah… “Well, you left an ‘and’ out of that sentence, John.”

“Hey man, you went to Yale. I don’t argue with that!”


The interview winds down — Goodman says fondly that he went to a state college, and Jon Stewart ends the segment with a burst of enthusiasm. “There you go, brother! John Goodman — never bad in anything.” But maybe because we’re in a unique place in internet history — or because online shopping has become such a phenomenon — they still couldn’t resist making one last joke about Amazon.


STEWART: Alpha House premiers on Amazon.com November 15th, you can watch the first three episodes for free! That’s not a bad deal.

GOODMAN: No!

STEWART: And then, uh, you ultimately end up, uh, ordering a power washer! For no apparent reason.

GOODMAN: But they’re damn good power washers!

A Secret New Kindle from Amazon?

Amazon's next new secret Kindle project

Amazon’s hiring engineers to build a brand new product, which they’re predicting “will be bigger than Kindle!” I didn’t even know there was a department at Amazon that was called “Kindle New Initiatives” — but there is, and they’re hosting a meet-and-greet event at their lab in Massachusetts just next Friday. “I hate to help Amazon hire even more people in Cambridge who will no longer return my phone calls or e-mails,” joked a Boston technology columnist, “but this is a pretty intriguing description of what they’re up to…”

He quotes an earlier invitation from Amazon promising that they’re building “a new revolutionary Version 1 product that will allow us to deliver Digital Media to customers in new ways and disrupt the current marketplace.” And the clues are starting to pile up. When Amazon opened this lab in 2011, they announced new hires would be working with Amazon’s “digital products” team — the group responsible for Kindle ebooks, as well as Amazon’s Instant Video (and all the mp3s in their digital music store), plus Amazon’s “cloud” storage service.

So who’s in Amazon’s crosshairs? Some have suggested it’s “an A-Phone” — Amazon’s own version of an iPhone (which woould play digital media like music and videos, but would also let you access your library of Kindle ebooks). While I believe Amazon will enter the phone market at some point, I just don’t think they’d use the word “disruptive” to describe it. A better slogan for what Amazon’s working on might be…


“I Want My A-TV”

It started with a question. Why is Amazon producing TV shows? For the past few years they’ve been “greenlighting” new shows, which are only avalable on the web and on Kindle Fire tablets. It’s a weird business model — unless Amazon was already secretly envisioning a much larger audience for the shows they’re creating. So maybe Amazon is releasing a device that plugs right into your TV, letting you stream all the movies and TV shows that are available from Amazon.

It could be just like Google Chromecast — except Amazon has a lot more video to distribute. Instead of YouTube videos, you could watch all of the shows in Amazon’s “Instant Video” library — everything from Duck Dynasty and The Daily Show to new movies (along with Amazon’s original programming). Amazon would instantly become “the new NetFlix”, and The Motley Fool is already arguing that Amazon “is in a better position to compete with Netflix for the 49 and up age group, which is where much of the remaining growth of streaming video will occur.” Plus, people wouldn’t even have to sign up for the new service (since most of them would probably have an Amazon account already). And this opens up a fascinating new possibility: TV shopping.

Imagine browsing Amazon’s site on your wide-screen, high-definition television set. Amazon’s already encouraging ontent providers to include videos for the products they distribute — which may suggest they’ve been thinking about video shopping. In fact, one Amazon page already points out that the products that see the biggest increase in sales tend to have “innovative or complex features” — and they give the example of several expensive pieces of technology. Customers may be more likely to purchase a product if they’d seen video footage about the way it works, which would mean even bigger sales for Amazon. It seems like they’d have to be intrigued by the prospect of an even better way to sell things to online shoppers, and for customers it’d be an exciting new 21st-century kind of expaerience — watching giant video demos of the products you want to buy.

And then completing the purchase with your remote!

More Special Deals from Amazon

The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson back cover

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


For shortcuts, point your browser to these URLs:

tinyurl.com/KindleCalvinAndHobbes

tinyurl.com/AmazonDecemberVideo


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


Snoopy surfing book - cover of Cowabunga


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

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

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Movie


Enjoy your holiday weekend!


For shortcuts, point your browser to these URLs:

tinyurl.com/KindleCalvinAndHobbes

tinyurl.com/AmazonDecemberVideo


My Favorite Kindle Stories

Bookshelf_porn_hanakmat-at-john-k-kings-tumblr_miplufM07L1r30qaoo1_1280

There’s so many interesting things happening in the Kindle world, and I want to share as many of them as I can. So here’s another collection of my favorite recent Kindle news stories — awarding “Cheers” to the most exciting and interesting stories for Kindle owners, along with some occasional “Jeers” for at least one funny misstep!


Cheers to Amazon for Discounting Magazines

Looking for something new to read on your Kindle? I was thrilled to see that for the rest of March, Amazon’s offering discounts of up to 87% on more than 20 different magazines. (Just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/KindleMagazineDeals ) For just $7.49, they’re offering a one-year digital subscription to Maxim, Family Circle, or the Ladies’ Home Journal, and Every Day with Rachel Ray is just $4.99. And they’ve also discounted Popular Science, Field & Stream, ESPN Magazine, and 17 other magazines!


Jeers to Amazon’s Auto-Rip

Actually, I was delighted when Amazon announced a new service back in January which brought more music to my Kindle Fire tablet — for free. Whenever you buy a qualifying music CD from Amazon, they now automatically add free digital versions of every song into Amazon’s “Cloud Player”, so you can listen to it on your Kindle Fire tablet (as well as on the web, and in their Amazon MP3 apps.) And to inaugurate this new feature, I discovered, Amazon actually went back in time, and delivered digital versions of all the songs I’d purchased for more than 10 years — which I’m still listening to right now on my Kindle Fire tablet.

So I was really excited about the new feature — but at the technology site Slashdot, one of the commenters wasn’t as enthusiastic, and came up with a good reason to give Amazon some good-natured jeers. “The biggest flaw,” he posted, “is that I now have mp3s for CDs I gave as gifts. Unfortunately, my friends and relatives seem to have different music taste than I do, so now I have the Chicago soundtrack and Hannah Montana mp3s!”


Cheers to Free Comedies coming from Amazon

Amazon’s already letting users watch thousands of videos for free on their Kindle Fire tablets (or through the web) if they’re subscribers to Amazon’s Prime shipping service, including classic TV shows like the original Star Trek and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. But soon even if you’re not a Prime subscriber, Amazon’s going to have some free videos for you to watch — and in fact, Amazon’s producing it themselves! Amazon recently announced that they’re creating six original comedy series for their members to watch free on Amazon’s Instant Video site — selected from more than 12,000 proposals that were submitted to “Amazon Studios.” . The comedies will include one by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau — titled Alpha House — which follows four Senators in Washington D.C. who end up living together in the same rented house. And Browsers will be a comedy by Daily Show writer David Javerbaum (directed by Don Scardino from 30 Rock ). Amazon will even be present a new comedy from one of the internet’s oldest comedy sites, The Onion, titled — what else? — The Onion Presents: The News!


Cheers to Photos for Book Lovers

This last link was too beautiful not to share, because let’s face it — we love our Kindles because we love reading. So it was a real delight to see photos of some of the world’s most gorgeous bookshelves. In 2009, someone even created a web site called Bookshelf Porn “showcasing the best bookshelf photos from around the world” — and some of them are absolutely gorgeous. (See the photo at the top of this blog post!) The site has now been featured in articles by book-lovers everywhere (including The New Yorker), and Time magazine even named it one of the best blogs of 2012. I always get a kick out of browsing their gorgeous photos — some submitted by readers — of the most breathtaking bookshelves from around the world.

And for even more fun, they’ve included a link which delivers a randomly-choosen photo from their archive over the last four years at BookShelfPorn.com/Random.

Sunday Sale on Oscar-winning Movies for Kindle

Marilyn Monroe movie poster

Today only, Amazon’s discounting over 100 Oscar-winning movies to just $3.99 for their online and app-based “Instant Video”! And you can download high-definition versions of the same movies for just $2.00. The movies will look great on your Kindle Fire (or Kindle Fire HD) tablet, but you can also watch them online. Amazon’s selling the discounted videos through their “Instant Video” store, which means you can also watch them online at video.amazon.com!

For a shortcut to the sale, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/399OscarMovies. (Remember, this is a special one-day-only sale.) Amazon’s timed it to coincide with Sunday’s Broadcast of the 85th Academy Awards. But fortunately, they’re also offering discounts on some past Oscar-winning movies.

Here’s a complete list of all of the great movies Amazon’s discounted to just $3.99…


Saving Private Ryan
Midnight in Paris
Forrest Gump
The Godfather
Gladiator
The Social Network
The King’s Speech
Fiddler on the Roof
Apollo 13
Goldfinger
The Artist
The Usual Suspects
My Cousin Vinny
Slumdog Millionaire
Black Swan
My Week With Marilyn
Dances With Wolves
The Silence of the Lambs
Fargo
Inside Job
Thunderball
Rain Man
West Side Story
Braveheart
War Games
Juno
Master and Commander
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Atonement
Moonstruck
Little Miss Sunshine
The Iron Lady
Some Like It Hot
Twelve Angry Men
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Out of Africa
Hoosiers
Scent of a Woman
Erin Brockovich
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
All About Eve
Sideways
King Kong
Coal Miner’s Daughter
Rocky
The Invisible War
Platoon
The Alamo
Babette’s Feast
Blue Valentine
The Madness of King George
The Big Country
A Separation
The Poseidon Adventure
Wall Street
Blue Velvet
Undefeated
Samurai Trilogy Part 1: Musashi Miyamoto
Robocop
In the Heat of the Night
Ghost World
The Last King of Scotland
Yentl
The Hustler
The French Connection
The Thomas Crown Affair
Hotel Rwanda
Henry V
A Fish Called Wanda
Stagecoach
Irma La Douce
The Red Shoes
Rob Roy
Brokeback Mountain
Marty
The Devil and Daniel Webster
Hamlet
Leaving Las Vegas
Birdman of Alcatraz
Lillies of the Field
The Visitor
The Time of Harvey Milk
A Hole in the Head
The Constant Gardener
The Tin Drum
Born on the 4th of July
In a Better World
Midnight Cowboy
The French Lieutenant’s Woman
King Kong
Amarcord
Black Orpheus
The Woman in Red
Bowling for Columbine
Tom Jones
Six Degrees of Separation
The Defiant Ones
The Barefoot Contessa
I Want to Live
Separate Tables
Manhattan
The Purple Rose of Cairo


Remember, for a shortcut just point your browser to tinyurl.com/399OscarMovies

The 50 Most Useful Kindle URLs

Digital Publishing vs. the Gutenberg press

Once a year, I assemble my “master list” of shortcuts to the most useful pages for Kindle owners – like all of the free ebooks and blogs that Amazon’s been making available. But this year there’s also twelve new links which tell the story of 2012 — highlighting all the new faces that finally joined the Kindle universe!

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

And all 50 of them start with TinyURL.com …

FREE EBOOKS

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


FREE MP3S

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

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


BARGAIN EBOOKS

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

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

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

Amazon will also announce their Daily Deals on Facebook at

facebook.com/kindledeals

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

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


NEW TO KINDLE IN 2012

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

tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks
Superman! Batman! Wonder Woman! Green Lantern! D.C. Comics all finally became available in the Kindle Store this year, including new, single-issue digital versions (and even some free “preview” editions!)

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

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

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

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

tinyurl.com/Free2012CampaignBook
One of the biggest stories of 2012 was the presidential election — and two political scientists actually published a free ebook during the campaign to explain what was really happening!

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

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

tinyurl.com/PrimeInstantVideo
If you’ve signed up for Amazon’s free two-day shipping service, they’ll also let you watch a ton of movies and TV shows for free on your Kindle Fire! (Or over the internet…) Browse the complete selection on Amazon’s “Prime Instant Video” page.

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

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


MORE EBOOK LINKS

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

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

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

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


AMAZON’S CUSTOMER SUPPORT

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

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


MY EBOOKS AND GAMES

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

TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel
An original word game for Kindle became one of the top 100 most-popular for the year — and I’m it’s co-author! Check it all the fun at TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel, and discover why 28 people gave it a five-star review! And we’ve just released a brand-new sequel which you can see at TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel2

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

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

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


GAMES

tinyurl.com/allkindlegames
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!)

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


FREE KINDLE MAGAZINES

tinyurl.com/FreeKindleMagazine

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

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

tinyurl.com/FreeSciFiMag
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.)


A VERY SPECIAL KINDLE BLOG

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


KINDLES ON TV

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

tinyurl.com/KindleFireSong
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!

tinyurl.com/SheBuysAKindle
In 2011 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

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

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


MISCELLANEOUS

tinyurl.com/kindlemap
Ever wonder where all the Kindle owners are? Someone’s created an interactive online map, where Kindle owners can stop by and leave “push pins” showing their location! There’s big clusters on the east and west coast of America (though you could still leave the first push pin for 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!”)


And here’s the most useful URL of all.

tinyURL.com/50KindleURLs

It’s a shortcut to this page — so you can find all of these URLs in 2013!

Happy New Year!

Fun With Amazon’s Customer Support

Tom the cat chases Jerry the cartoon mouse

I laughed so hard on Saturday night. And I’ve got a great little story about Amazon’s customer support. I don’t usually share personal stories, but this one feels like it’s worth an exception. It all started because it had been a long weekend, and I’d just wanted to curl up and watch a video on my Kindle Fire…

Unfortunately, the Kindle’s video store ended up warning me that the video I’d ordered was taking longer than expected to download – and then never delivering it! It wouldn’t let me place the order again, but the video still wasn’t showing up. I’d tried Amazon’s web site, but got the exact same error message. So I clicked on the “help” link — and that’s when the fun began…

Now let me explain something. It was raining, and after running around town doing holiday errands, I’d just wanted to relax. And I’d rememered that Amazon gave me a $3.00 credit for videos for my Kindle Fire, but I only had one more day to use it. I’d spent $2.00 to watch an episode of South Park, but there was still $1.00 left. And I’d wanted to watch something comforting, maybe an old favorite from my childhood…

It turns out that one of Amazon’s options for customer support was to have an online chat in real-time. And yes, I wanted my video and I wanted it now, so it seemed like the best solution. Besides, I could test Amazon’s customer support, to see just how good they are at troubleshooting. And I was impressed that someone turned up right away — though since it was 7 p.m. on a Saturday, I suspected he might be in India…

“You are now connected to Saransh from Amazon.com,” explained the text that Amazon displayed in a chat window on the screen. And I was a little embarrassed about having to admit what I’d been trying to watch to a live person. “I ordered a Tom & Jerry cartoon on my Kindle Fire,” I explained sheepishly, “but it keeps giving me an error about how it’s taking longer to arrive than expected…”

“A member of our Amazon Instant Video team will need to help you with this,” Saransh typed, adding “Please hold while I transfer you. One of our Amazon Instant Video Specialists will assist you shortly.”

All this fuss over a cat-and-mouse cartoon from the 1940s, I thought to myself. But I was really impressed at the instant customer support Amazon was providing. And I didn’t have to wait too much longer before another support association started typing in the window. His name was Sneha, and he typed hello, then added, “I will look into this straight away for you. May I place you on hold for two minutes, while I look into this?”

“Hi Sneha,” I typed, not sure how friendly I was supposed to be. “Sure. Go ahead.” And he began researching the problem.

His first search seemed to come up empty-handed. “I do not see the order on your account pertaining to Tom and Jerry,” Sneha typed. “Were you able to place to place the order or you were in the process of doing that?” But then he typed, “Okay. I see the order now. Sorry…” Unfortunately, by then I was already typing away.

“I placed the order on my Kindle Fire, and also tried again on video.amazon.com.” I realized that I hadn’t given him the exact title, so I also typed in. “It’s called ‘Puss Gets the Boot.’ Tom & Jerry are just the name of the characters…” But then I realized he didn’t need anything that I’d typed. Look at me, I thought, jabbering away with all this extraneous info…

“Yes, I got it ,” Sneha typed. “Thank you :)” So then, just for laughs, I typed…

“Tom is the cat, and Jerry is the mouse.”

I described the whole surreal moment to my girlfriend, and then joked about even more extraneous things I could’ve typed into the chat window, if I’d wanted to seem like even more of a clueless user. “They chase each other around. The cat is grey. See if you can find a cartoon like that. Because it’s probably them…”

And we laughed and laughed…

But I really have to hand it to Sneha, because he did solve my problem almost instantly. He told me to log out of the Instant Video page on Amazon, and to basically try turning my Kindle Fire off and on. My girlfriend joked that it was like the catch-all advice that was always offered by the geeks in a British sitcom called The IT Crowd — but in this case, it really worked. The video page on my Kindle Fire now showed one more video in my library: the Tom and Jerry cartoon Puss Gets the Boot.

And not only did Amazon solve my problem immediately, but Sneha also endeared himself to me with the way he responded after I’d explained that Tom was the cat, and Jerry was the mouse. He typed back into Amazon’s support window…

“Its my favorite cartoon show…”

Newest Kindle Ad – “She Buys a Kindle!”

Blonde woman in new $79 Kindle ad buys one for herself
She finally bought a Kindle! For five months, Amazon’s been running a series of ads where a patient young man talks to a blonde woman about his Kindle. But Wednesday Amazon released a new ad — the fourth in the series — where she finally admits she bought a Kindle for herself!

Within two days, it had already been viewed nearly 100,000 times on YouTube, as Amazon’s announcement about four new Kindles finally intersected the series of ads. “I’m very happy to be a part of them,” the actress posted Wednesday to her Twitter feed (adding “Can’t wait to hear what else they announce.”) And she also posted a funny story about her honeymoon last month in Greece. “Excited 2 find 1 Greek who owns a #kindle & will let me use his charger.

“Tried 2 tell him I kindle girl he said ‘I kindle boy!’ hmm.”

I’ve created a shorter URL where you can watch the ad online, at tinyurl.com/SheBuysAKindle . So what happens in the newest ad? Here’s a transcript. It opens when the young man sees the blonde woman smiling, with a red ribbon wrapped around a new, gray Kindle.

“What’s up, happy pants?”

“I just bought my dad the new Kindle. $79.”

“You?! A Kindle? Really?”

“No. Me, two Kindles. Really…”

“You’re going to give your dad two Kindles?”

“No, of course not.”

“Who could you have possibly have bought the second Kindle for.”

“Okay, it’s for me. It’s only $79.”

“And?”

“And it reads just like a paper book.”

“And…?”

“It’s better to receive than to give.”

“I don’t think that’s how it goes.”

“Close enough.” (She jiggles the two Kindles…)


“All-new Kindle only $79,” reads the final shot of the ad. And here’s an interesting piece of trivia. Though she seems a little ditzy, the book that the woman is reading on her Kindle’s screen is Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. And in real-life, the actress started college at the age of 13, and at 15 became one of the youngest students ever admitted to UCLA. (Plus — judging from her Twitter feed — she already owns a Kindle.)

Part of me wonders if “What’s up, happy pants” will become a new catchphrase. (“I think that’s a seriously strong double entendre,” says my girlfriend.) But I really enjoyed the ad — and it looks like it’s already getting people excited about the new low cost of a Kindle. “That’s cheap enough for me to consider buying one,” reads a comment posted on YouTube.

“Thanks, Amazon!”