Get The Hunger Games trilogy for $5.00!

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I couldn’t believe it. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins includes three of Amazon’s top 100 best-selling Kindle ebooks. And suddenly, bloggers noticed this week that the entire trilogy had been discounted to just $5.00!

For a shortcut to the discounted ebooks, just point your browser to

In print, all three books would normally cost you $53.97, Amazon points out on their web page — and even the three ebooks would cost $48.97 — so this represents a savings of over 91%. I don’t know how long this sale is going to last, but it’s been going on since Thursday. In fact, The Hunger Games Trilogy has now become the #1 best-selling ebook in the Kindle Store.

Individually, the three ebooks in the trilogy “have been on the best seller list for over 900 days,” notes a bargins blogger at, “which is just nuts!” Though she wasn’t sure she’d like the futuristic fantasy about teenagers who fight to the death, “I read all 3 of these books in one week which is crazy. I literally couldn’t put them down!” And the series has also been especially popular with Kindle owners. In 2011, their author — Suzanne Collins — became only the sixth author to ever sell more than one million ebooks in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

Later that year, I discoved that she’d also become the most-highlighted author in the Kindle Store, with three of 10 most-highlighted passages. (In fact, she also wrote 13 of the 100 most-highlighted passages.) And on a second list Amazon had created showing the most-highlighted passages from the recent past, Collins was the undisputed champ, with quotes from her books claiming six of the top 10 spots! Over the next 12 months, her series became even more popular with the release of a Hunger Games movie, and it was almost exactly one year ago that Amazon made a special announcement: Suzanne Collins had become the Kindle’s all-time best-selling author.

And now you can buy her entire for just $5.00!

For a shortcut to the discounted ebooks, just point your browser to

The Kindle Joins the PTA

The PTA endorses Amazon's Kindle

America’s Parent Teacher Association includes millions of parents and teachers — but this year, they’re letting Amazon’s Kindle be the exclusive partner of a new program. To improve the reading skills of grade school students, the program will teach parents some fun ways to get involved in their children’s reading — and for the rest of the year, the program will officially be called The PTA Family Reading Experience, Powered by Kindle.

Besides ebooks, “The progam also encourages use of real books,” notes Fast Company magazine, “but it’s definitely a PR coup for Amazon, whose rival Apple has also been moving to increase its e-book educational appeal.” Amazon’s even created a special web page identifying themselves as “the official e-reader of the National PTA”. The page argues that the Kindle “was designed to make great books as accessible and engaging as possible, and kids say their enthusiasm for reading increases with e-books.”

“Parents love to see their children inspired to read more, especially with a device like Kindle that’s focused solely on reading.

It’s fascinating to see the way Amazon has now started marketing their e-readers as a family-friendly educational tool, with a pitch that the Kindle is “the perfect complement to children’s print books.” (Their web page also notes the Kindle’s storage capacity of over 1,000 books, “making heavy backpacks lighter,” and that each Kindle has a built-in dictionary which “supports real-time vocabulary development, while adjustable fonts and text sizes make each book just right for a child’s eyes and reading ability.”) Amazon’s even titled their page “Kids and Parents Love Kindle,” and they’ve also lined up an enthusiastic quote in the press release announcing their endorsement. “National PTA is honored to work with Kindle to provide parents with proven techniques for improving their child’s reading fluency, comprehension and passion…”

But the real question isn’t just whether this will help Amazon sell more Kindles, but also whether it help them sell more ebooks. So to that end, Amazon’s also created a new web page of “PTA Family Favorites”, which also touts their relationship with the new organization. “Kindle and the National PTA are working together to help families get more involved in their children’s reading and enhance their emerging interest in books, Amazon writes at the top of the web page. “These featured titles were most frequently cited in a survey of PTA members as books they love to read together as a family.”

I admit I enjoyed browsing the selection, to see if there were any books I recognized from my childhood. Amazon’s highlighting their ebook versions of “PTA Family Favorites”, separated into ebooks for different reading levels, with The Magic Treehouse series recommended for first and second graders (along with the Junie B. series and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)). For third and fourth graders, the page recommends the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, along with Beverly Cleary’s books about Ramona. Their selection for fourth and fifth graders includes C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series, and their older-reader selections include The Lightning Thief, The Hobbit and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.

I could think cynical thoughts about how Amazon’s involvement with the PTA is just another new way to promote the Kindle and Amazon’s Kindle Store. But mostly I’m just glad to see children being encouraged
to read some very good books.

The Secrets of eBook Readers

shh - finger to lips - secret rumor

Ever wonder how other people read? It’s finally possible to know, using new data collected from ebooks. Last week Barnes and Noble leaked the patterns they were seeing among Nook readers to The Wall Street Journal, towards the end of a fascinating article called “Is Your eBook Reading You?” Citing the Nook data, the Journal reported…

  • “Nonfiction books tend to be read in fits and starts…”

  • “Novels are generally read straight through…”

  • “Nonfiction books, particularly long ones, tend to get dropped earlier.”

  • “Science-fiction, romance and crime-fiction fans often read more books more quickly than readers of literary fiction do, and finish most of the books they start.”

  • “Readers of literary fiction quit books more often and tend skip around between books. “

Some of the things they’ve determined are actually pretty obvious. For example, the first thing most people do after reading The Hunger Games is to download the next book in the series. But others have determined patterns which are even much more specific. For example, “It takes the average reader just seven hours to read the final book in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy on the Kobo e-reader – about 57 pages an hour,” the Journal reports. And “Nearly 18,000 Kindle readers have highlighted the same line from the second book in the series: ‘Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.'”

The data finally confirms something that I’ve always suspected. When people read the first book in a series, they usually go on to read the entire series, “almost as if they were reading a single novel. ” And the article got an even more specific example from the makers of the Kobe. “Most readers who started George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novel A Dance With Dragons finished the book, and spent an average of 20 hours reading it, a relatively fast read for a 1,040-page novel.”

But where is this all leading? At Barnes and Noble, there’s now a Vice President for eBooks who’s already begun sharing their data with book publishers, hoping they’ll eventually create books that are even more engaging. It’s still early, they tell the Journal, but Barnes and Noble has already begun to begun to act on the data. When they realized people weren’t finishing the longer nonfiction ebooks, they launched “Nook Snaps” to offer shorter dollops of information on hot topics like Occupy Wall Street or how to lose weight. And that might be only the beginning. “The bigger trend we’re trying to unearth is where are those drop-offs in certain kinds of books, and what can we do with publishers to prevent that?”

Amazon also offered a nice perspective on their ability to identify “popular highlights” and share them on their web page. “We think of it as the collective intelligence of all the people reading on Kindle.” And the Journal also notes that Amazon is both a seller and a publisher of ebooks. I was baffled when Amazon started selling “Kindle Singles” last year, since they basically seemed to me just like shorter ebooks.

But maybe Amazon has learned the exact same lesson — that readers tend to drift away from their nonfiction ebooks!

Who is the Best-Selling Kindle Author of All Time?

Suzanne Collins

Friday Amazon made a special announcement, to reveal the best-selling Kindle author of all time. It’s Suzanne Collins, the author of the Hunger Games trilogy (and the Underland Chronicles, a fantasy series for children). But she’s achieved some even more amazing milestones in Amazon’s Kindle Store, as Amazon shared more statistics about the author’s massive audience. And it’s all happened extremely fast, since Collins first published The Hunger Games just three and a half years ago!

Her books have been consistently popular ever since. The first two books in the Hunger Games series sold 1.5 million print copies in their first 14 months in print, and The Hunger Games even stayed on the best-seller list of the New York Times for more than 60 weeks in a row! All three books have spent more than a year and a half on Amazon’s list of the top 100 best-selling Kindle ebooks, and Collins also had the #1 and #2 best-selling ebooks this Christmas — The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. And in November, when Amazon first announced their “Kindle Owners Lending Library”, Collins achieved another milestone. Members of Amazon’s Prime shipping program could borrow one ebook each month for free — and three of the top four ebooks came from the Hunger Games trilogy!

In fact, by June of last year, Collins had become one of just seven authors to sell over one million copies of her ebooks on the Kindle — joining other popular authors like Lee Child and Michael Connelly. “What a lovely and unexpected honor to be in such wonderful company,” Collins said in a statement, “and see my books reaching readers in this exciting new format.”

Three authors sell one million Kindle e-books - Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Suzanne Collins

Four authors had beaten her to the one-million-ebooks milestone — Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, and Charlaine Harris. But within 9 months, she’d overtaken them all, and become the best-selling Kindle ebook author of all time!

But there were even more triumphs waiting for Collins. Last July, I’d discovered Amazon’s list of the 100 most-highlighted passages of all time from Kindle ebooks. At the time, the #1 most-highlighted passage was from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice — but the second and third most-highlighted passages were by Suzanne Collins (who also had a third quote in the top ten).

“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”

     – from Mockingjay
            Highlighted by 4,390 Kindle users in July
            Highlighted by 8,482 Kindle users Today

“Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.”

     – from Catching Fire
            Highlighted by 4,001 Kindle users in July
            Highlighted by 13,983 Kindle users Today

“We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.”

     – from Mockingjay
            Highlighted by 3,206 Kindle users in July
            Highlighted by 6,408 Kindle users today

But just eight month’s later, Jane Austen’s quote from Pride and Prejudice has dropped into the #3 position behind the two Collins quotes. And amazingly, now four more quotes from the Hunger Games trilogy have crashed into the top 10 on Amazon’s list of the most-highlighted passages.

“‘I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now, and live in it forever,’ he says.”

     – from Catching Fire
        (Highlighted by 6,418 Kindle users)

“‘I just want to spend every possible minute of the rest of my life with you,’ Peeta replies.”

     – from Catching Fire
            Highlighted by 6,410 Kindle users

“‘Having an eye for beauty isn’t the same thing as a weakness,’ Peeta points out. ‘Except possibly when it comes to you.'”

     – from Catching Fire
        (Highlighted by 6,097 Kindle users)

“Life in District 12 isn’t really so different from life in the arena. At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead.”

     – from Catching Fire
            Highlighted by 6,000 Kindle users

In fact, 29 of the top 100 most-highlighted passages in Kindle ebooks now all come from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. (Back in July, Collins’s books had just 13 of the top 100 most-highlighted passages on Amazon’s list.) And there’s an even more stunning statistic if you visit Amazon’s list of the most-recently highlighted passages. On that list, Suzanne Collins has written every single one of the 10 most-highlighted passages — and 17 of the 20 most-highlighted!

The three non-Collins books include The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and the text of Apple’s “Think Different” ad campaign from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. (“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers…”)

Ironically, the #18 most-highlighted passage came from Amazon’s Kindle User’s Guide — its instructions on how to highlight a passage! (“Press and hold, then drag your finger across text to select it…”)

This represents another triumph for Collins, since last year The Hunger Games was also one of the 10 most-frequently challenged books, according to the American Library Association. I always say that the ready availability of those titles in a digital format suggests that the Kindle might someday play a role in fighting the censorship of books.

For even more information, Amazon also calculated the 20 cities in America which purchased the most copies of Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. I plotted the cities on a map of the United States, to look for a recognizable pattern.

Where Suzanne Collins books are most popular

Sunnyvale, California
Salt Lake City, Utah
Tallahassee, Florida
Seattle, Washington
Orlando, Florida
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
St. Louis, Missouri
Provo, Utah
San Francisco, California
Naperville, Illinois
Washington, D.C.
Richmond, Virginia
Scottsdale, Arizona
Wilmington, North Carolina
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Vancouver, Washington
Portland, Oregon
Tampa, Florida
Overland Park, Kansas
Norman, Oklahome

The first thing you notice is that Amazon’s list includes three different cities in Florida. I’ve heard there’s a lot of retirees in Florida — so maybe they’re reading a lot. (Maybe Amazon was even reaching out to specifically them with those ads about reading on a Kindle at the beach!) And there’s two different cities that are very near Silicon Valley — including the #1 city, Sunnyvale, California. Maybe those towns are full of affluent geeks and other early adopters of technology — or at least, lots of fans of good science fiction books!

“There’s no denying that The Hunger Games has become a worldwide phenomenon,” announced Amazon’s editor for young adult book. She added, “we love that it all started with a great book…and you can see from our Top 20 list they’re captivating readers across the whole country.”

One of the most interesting facts about Suzanne Collins is she used to be a writer for Nickelodeon, the cable TV channel for children. (According to Wikipedia, she worked on “Clarissa Explains it All,” and was the head writer for “Clifford’s Puppy Days.”) Now she’s penned a best-selling trilogy that’s also about child performers — except in this trilogy, they fight to the death!

Maybe after writing all those sweet stories for Nickelodeon, she was ready for something darker!