Fun Friday eBooks!

Amazon Big Deal 99-cent ebook sale

I’ve been amazed by just how many discounts Amazon’s started offering on their Kindle ebooks. Right now there’s at least three different sales going on, plus at least one fascinating free ebook that just turned up in Amazon’s Kindle Store. And there was some surprising news about Amazon this week — including an article about how they’re pricing their books. Here’s some fun links to both the sales and the stories — to help you celebrate the arrival of the weekend with your Kindle!

Amazon Discounts 500 More eBooks!
The best discount is a surprise discount, and browsing Amazon this week I discovered a very special announcement: “The Big Deal: Kindle Books Up to 85% Off!” These deals are only available through this Sunday, August 4th, but there’s hundreds of ’em, and in lots of different categories. (Graphic Novels, Professional & Technical, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Humor & Entertainment…) And some ebooks have been discounted to just 99 cents!

For a shortcut to the sale, just point your browser to

A Free Kindle Single — interviewing President Obama!
“The phone rang last Thursday afternoon as the word came from the White House…” begins Amazon’s newest Kindle Single. President Barack Obama was visiting Chattanooga, Tennessee to visit Amazon’s fulfillment center for a speech about jobs and the American economy, and “Did Amazon’s Kindle Singles, by any chance, want to talk with him about it?” He ultimately sits down with the head of Amazon’s Kindle Singles program for a very candid 15-page interview. (“I think you’re the first president to have his credit card declined…” Amazon’s editor jokes at one point.) I enjoyed the sense of immediacy in this interview — it was conducted on Tuesday — and it’s already become Amazon’s #1 best-selling free Kindle ebook.

For a shortcut, just point your browser to

Amazon Slashes Price on Best-Sellers
Publisher’s Weekly also noticed that Amazon’s begun offering big discounts on new best-sellers — at least, in the hardcover format. On Monday, the site reported, “ quietly began discounting many bestselling hardcover titles between 50% and 65%, levels we’ve never seen in the history of Amazon or in the bricks-and-mortar price wars of the past.” The discounted books all come from major publishers, and “are far below the usual 40%-50% range sometimes offered by Amazon, warehouse clubs and other discounters and are more typical for remainders than frontlist hardcovers.” The article notes that sometimes the hardcover books are even cheaper than their Kindle editions, and one bookstore owner complained this was “an open declaration of war against the industry.” Discounted books include Inferno by Dan Brown, And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. And I was really surprised to see that the Kindle ebook edition of one best-seller was now priced at just $3.99 — The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (which Time magazine called the very best fiction book of 2012.)

Amazon Won an Emmy!
Yes, it’s true. This morning Amazon issued a press release announcing that they’d be receiving their very first Emmy Award for their Instant Video service. I’ve been enjoying Amazon Instant Video on my Kindle Fire, though you can also enjoy the same movies by accessing their page with a web browser — and Amazon’s creating their own original video programs, as well as offering a large library of movies and TV shows to choose from. The Emmy award isn’t for any TV show they created, but instead for Amazon’s whole “Instant Video” service, and the way it can offer personalized recommendations. (For example, “Customers who watched this also watched…”) Amazon’s press release points out that Amazon can also recommend TV shows (and movies) based on what kind of instant videos their customers have already watched in the recent past. And though YouTube received the same award earlier in the week, it’s still nice to see Amazon’s innovations being officially recognized by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences!

The Best Free Videos on Amazon Prime

TV shows on Amazon Kindle Fire

I love Amazon’s supply of free videos that you can watch if you’ve signed up for their Prime shipping service. You can watch them through the web, or on a Kindle Fire tablet, or even on an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3. Even if you’re not a Prime subscriber, you can still watch them if you’re willing to pay a small fee — usually $1.99 per video. (And Amazon gives you a free one-month trial when you register your Kindle Fire tablet.) But I was fighting a cold on Monday, so I spent a whole day exploring which videos are available for free in the Prime section of Amazon’s “Instant Video” library — and there’s a lot of interesting things to choose from!

To browse the selection, just point your web browser to

Last week Amazon even announced a licensing agreement with NBC, so now there’s an even bigger selection. (“We’re excited to be working with NBCUniversal to add their award-winning lineup of TV shows such as Parks and Recreation and Friday Night Lights to Prime Instant Video,” Amazon announced in a statement.) But Amazon’s Prime video library already had a pretty good selection of new and classic TV shows to choose from. Yesterday Amazon announced that their most watched TV show is Downton Abbey — but you’ll see many more familiar names on Amazon’s list of their most-popular TV shows.

My Name is Earl
The West Wing
Grey’s Anatomy

Science Fiction
Doctor Who (Season 1)
Battlestar Galactica
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Star Trek (the original series, Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager)
Red Dwarf
Stargate SG-1
The X-Files
Avatar: The Last Airbender
The Twilight Zone

Arrested Development
King of the Hill
Hot in Cleveland
Chappelle’s Show

’90s Favorites
Dawson’s Creek
Party of Five
21 Jump Street
Beverly Hills 90210
Ally McBeal

Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Fawlty Towers
The Civil War by Ken Burns
Upstairs, Downstairs
The Office (the original British version)
The French Chef with Julia Child
The Tudors

There’s also a surprisingly good selection of shows for children, including Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants, but also Jim Henson’s forgotten HBO show from the 1980s, Fraggle Rock. And I discovered that you can even delve back into the vault for classic children’s shows, including every single season of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, and the original Electric Company with Morgan Freeman, Bill Cosby, and Rita Moreno.

I was amazed that I my Kindle Fire pulled up TV shows that I hadn’t seen in more than 40 years, since I was a kid — including Archie cartoons from the 1960s! I used to come home from grade school to watch Gilligan’s Island or the original Star Trek — and now here were the same shows, being transmitted to my tiny handheld tablet! There’s even a selection of I Love Lucy episodes, plus “guilty pleasures” like Alf.

Of course, there’s also a pretty good selection of movies in Amazon’s Instant Video library, including some that are free to Prime subscribers.

    The Matrix Revolutions
    Ocean’s 11
    South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
and Team America
    Mission: Impossible (I and III)
    Beverly Hills Cop
    The Addams Family
    Food, Inc
Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
(the original Swedish version)
    What Just Happened
    The Return of the Pink Panther
starring Steve McQueen
    Basic Instinct 2

Just like in the TV section, I also saw some movie titles here that I haven’t seen in decades – so it’s a lot of fun seeing just what Amazon has available. I recommend browsing the video section – especially if you have some time to kill!

To browse Amazon’s selection of free Prime videos, just
point your web browser to