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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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December 2010
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Color Kindle Contest Winner

A while ago I ran a contest for guessing a name of Color Kindle device when it comes out.

And the prize goes to… Taylor Harris who lives in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, and has been a Kindle owner since March of 2009. He’s a fan of Willa Cather, reads Robert D. Kaplan, and can’t get enough of Louis Meyer’s Jacky Faber series.

His guess was Kindle Hue.

There’s still a chance for everyone who participated to win the grand prize – the Color Kindle itself once it comes out. Stay tuned.

Happy New Year!

Well folks, it’s been a fun and exciting year in terms of eBooks and eReaders. I’m sure that the next year will be even more interesting but for now I’m off to celebrate the New Year for the rest of the day. See you in the new 2011 year!

Cap d’Any – Nit de Cap d’Any
ليلة رأس السنة – ليلة رأس السنة
New Year’s Eve – New Year’s Eve!
Noite de Ano Novo – Noite de Ano Novo!
Nochevieja – Nochevieja
Silvester – Guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!
Oudejaarsavond – Oudejaarsavond!
réveillon du jour de l’an – Joyeux réveillon du jour de l’an !
Новогодишна нощ – Новогодишна нощ!
З надыходзячым новым 2011 годам – З надыходзячым Новым Годам!
Silvestr – Veselý Silvestr!
Nytårsaften – Nytårsaften
vana-aasta õhtu – Head vana aasta lõppu!
Nochevieja – ¡Feliz Nochevieja!
uudenvuodenaatto – Hyvää Uutta Vuotta!
Παραμονή Πρωτοχρονιάς – Παραμονή Πρωτοχρονιάς!
除夕 – 除夕!
Silvestrovo – Novogodišnja noć!
szilveszter – Szilveszter – 2010 utolsó napja
Malam Tahun Baru – Malam Tahun Baru
שנה אזרחית חדשה – ברכות לשנה אזרחית חדשה!
Notte di San Silvestro – Notte di San Silvestro
大晦日 – 大晦日
Жаңы жыл – Келе жаткан жаңы жылыңыздар менен
2011 새해 전날 – 2011년 새해를 기다리며!
Жаңа жыл – Келе жатқан жаңа жылыңызбен!
naujieji metai – Naujųjų metų išvakarės!
Нова Година – Нова Година!
Nyttårsaften – Nyttårsaften!
Bisperas ng bagong taon – Bisperas ng bagong taon
noc sylwestrowa – Sylwester
anul nou – Revelion
Новый Год – С наступающим Новым Годом!
Silvestrovo – Silvestrovo
Silvester – Veselý Silvester!
วันส่งท้ายปีเก่า ๒๕๕๓ – วันส่งท้ายปีเก่า ๒๕๕๓
Yeni yılınız kutlu olsun – Yeni yılınız kutlu olsun
Новий Рік – З Новим Роком!
Trước thềm năm mới – Trước thềm năm mới

Kindle Book Lending is here!

Without much of an announcement, Amazon has rolled out the Kindle feature that many people has been waiting for since it was announced two months ago. Kindle books can now be lent and borrowed for a period of 14 days. The feature is only available for some of the books. Here’s official Amazon help page about eBook loan feature.

At the moment it is not integrated into Kindle device software so you have to visit amazon.com website to loan and borrow books. You can do it either via “Manage Your Kindle” page or by visiting product pages of the books that you’ve already purchased. Either way you will see one of these links.

After clicking on this link, you will be prompted to enter recipient email address, name and a personal message. They will then receive an email with the link to accept book on a loan if they wish.

The whole thing is relatively simple and straightforward. It is up to publishers to enable to disable this feature. Since I didn’t explicitly enable it for my dictionary books and they are available for lending, I guess that it’s enabled by default.

What percentage of books is lendable is hard to say at the moment. I did a quick check of my Kindle library and it roughly seems 50/50. В Typically it’s either free out-of-copyright books that have lending disabled or popular bestsellers like “Lord of the Rings” or Gunslinger series by Stephen King.

To get a feel for how this new feature works, I’m going to loan out all of the lendable books in my collection. If you like anything from the list below, just drop me a comment and I’ll loan you the book. If enough people would get interested, I would set up a book loaning exchange website, where people can list Kindle books they are willing to loan and people who would like to borrow can find them.

Enjoy!

Kno Finally Ships

Remember the Kno?  It was an interesting idea that was taken by many to be an impossible or doomed project many months ago.  The basic idea was that a tablet PC optimized for educational needs and being about the size and weight of a standard undergraduate textbook would go over impressively in the same market where the Kindle failed to make an impression in early tests.  Well, as of 12/21 the thing has actually entered the market!

The major selling points seem to be the focus on textbooks and note taking.  Looking through the initial offerings, there seems to be quite the selection of digital textbooks already and supposedly more deals are on the way.  Particularly interesting for many will be the textbook rental option which will allow students to grab their texts for just a semester at a time for a reduced price.  How many people end up needing their Biology 101 text after their first year anyway, right?  Right along with that, the fact that you can write directly on the screen, allowing the potential for easy margin notation or a virtual notepad will address one of the problems with the Kindle‘s classroom usefulness.  Ease of use on what is among the most important study related activities for many will help.

Beyond that, a lot is riding on the as-yet unrealized potential offered by the app market.  Since the whole system is essentially built on the WebKit browser engine, development should be impressively simple and offer a variety of possibilities.  The initial offerings of book reading, web browsing, and note taking apps will fill most basic needs, but it’s always best to see some development after the devices have seen some time in the wild, so to speak.

On the negatives side, we still have a very narrowly purposed device and a comparatively high price point.  There is no usable USB port, so you’re stuck with the on-screen keyboard or a stylus.  It’s a bit on the heavy side as far as something you’re hoping to do any reading is concerned.  Also, I have to emphasize that based on the specs this is definitely a reading and web browsing device rather than a PC replacement.  It has limited hard drive space, unimpressive speed, and no real expandability.  For full tech specs, click here.

Overall, I like the product though.  As the developers emphasize on the sales site, your investment(whether it be $599 for the single screen 16GB unit or $999 for the dual screen 32GB unit) will pay off over the course of a year or two, assuming the student using it is able to get the majority of their textbooks through the Kno’s text store, which is something you’ve got to hope to be able to do for this to make sense in the first place.

It isn’t going to be for everybody.  This isn’t a Kindle for book reading or an iPad for general use tablet applications.  It’s strictly academic.  That said, we can only hope that it sees some success.  It would certainly be great to have access to something like this that would really allow eBooks to make a splash in the textbook market.

Read Kindle books on Nook Color

Yep, you are reading this right. It’s actually quite easy now to get Kindle books on Nook color and have both eBook stores available to you on a single device. This is possible because Nook Color is more of an entry level Android tablet than a dedicated eReader. As it comes out of the box it just happens to start the Nook application by default and not let users run anything else.

However that can easily be fixed by rooting the device and enabling the Android Market. With Andoid market you can install all kinds of applications, including Kindle, Kobo reader. You would also be able to play Angry Birds and watch Youtube videos. Installing the Kindle application for Android will let you read Amazon Kindle books on your Nook Color device.

The downside however is that as with all hacks, you risk bricking the device and voiding the warranty. You may also lock yourself out of future updates from Barnes and Noble. So it’s a trade off but in my opinion a profitable one.

It took me less than 5 minutes to execute all rooting instructions from NookDevs.com to root the device, enable Android Market, download Kindle for Android and have WhisperSync open the book I was reading on the same place I left it off on my Kindle device.

Here’s what you will need in terms of hardware:

  1. NookColor device with USB cable
  2. microSD card that is larger than 128MB (if you are in a rush and have Amazon Prime, amazon will overnight it to you for additional $3.99)
  3. SD card reader if your computer doesn’t have one.

In terms of software you’ll need:

  • On Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 32 or 64 bit – Win32DiskImager.exe
  • On Mac or Linux you can get by with tools that ship with the operating system.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Before rooting make sure that you’ve registered the device with B&N as it might not work after rooting.
  2. Download nooter that corresponds to you Nook version. You can check your Nook version by pressing Nook button, selecting “Settings” >> “Device Info” >> “About your NOOKcolor” >> Software version:
    1. for 1.0.0 – GabrialDestruir’s auto nooter 2.12.15 file 15 Dec 2010
    2. for 1.0.1 – GabrialDestruir’s auto nooter 2.12.25 file 25 Dec 2010
  3. Unpack the file
  4. On Windows use Win32DiskImager to write the image to microSD card (please note that all data on the card will be lost). For Linux or Mac, check out NookDevs.com for detailed microSD imaging instructions.
  5. Completely power off NOOKcolor by holding the power button until the screen blurs and “Power off NOOKColor” dialog appears. Select “Power Off” and wait for the device to shut down completely.
    NOOKcolor microSD card slot
  6. Turn device face down and open the microSD card container in the lower right corner. Push the card in with metal contacts facing down.
  7. Connect the device to your computer via USB cable. The device will power up and book from the SD card but the screen will not turn on. This is normal.
  8. After about a minute your computer show detect the new device. This means that the rooting is complete. Your Windows computer will complain about missing drivers. This is normal.
  9. Disconnect the USB cable and remove the card from the reader.
  10. Power cycle it by holding the power button for 20 seconds and then releasing it. The press the power button briefly to power the reader on.
  11. As the reader boots you will see a red splash screen.
  12. Once the reader boots, you will be prompted for you Gmail account (as usually with Android) and some initial settings. This will only happen once.
  13. As you open the extras folder you will see that it now contains Android market icon and some extras (Youtube, Gmail, etc)
    NOOKcolor rooted extras including Kindle
  14. You can now start the market app and download other apps that you like. You will need to reboot the device for apps to appear on the extras page. The apps themselves can be used right away just as with usual Android apps.

After that the sky is the limit.

First thing that I did was to download Kindle application and verify that it works – it did. See – for yourself.

Amazon Kindle on NOOKcolor

Amazon Kindle App on NOOKcolor

While this works, it’s not 100%. Initially I had some problems with apps not downloading via the market app. Reboot fixed that. Kobo app for android logs in and displays the list of books but then all books get stuck in “Waiting for download” state. Kindle app didn’t have such problems.

I also tried Youtube, remote desktop, Gmail and Angry Birds and that worked well.

All-in-all, I’m quite happy with this experiment as it shows once again that Kindle books can cross device boundaries and run even on competing devices. Does it add value to Kindle or NOOKcolor? I think both. If you have Barnes&Noble LCD eReader you can now get books from either store. Kindle opponents meanwhile have one less reason to complain about device-restricting DRM system.

I wanted to do Kindle vs. NOOKcolor review first, but this post turned out more about how these two devices cooperate rather than compete. The comparison review will be posted sometime early next year. I promise.

Unrooting and updating

Some people claim that using NOOKcolor can be “unrooted” by “Settings” >> “Device Info” >> “Erase & Deregister Device” but I haven’t tested it yet. I’m quite happy with my rooted NOOKcolor. Another method is to hold power, nook and Volume+ buttons pressed until you are prompted for device reset.

I’ve tried both methods and both reset the nook but apps were still present on the “extras” screen.

The official 1.0.1 update got installed without problems and after rebooting all rooting extras were completely gone.

I then went ahead to re-rooted the device and installed the Kindle reader apps back.

Tic Tac Toe – Kindle Edition

Tic Tac Toe is one of the earlier games made available for the Kindle and it goes for cheap…just 99 cents.  Tic Tac Toe is in the form of an e-book rather than an application, and Jon Larimer is the author.

Many of you probably know the rules of Tic Tac Toe, also known as Naughts and Crosses,  from playing the game while passing time in class or even on the playground.  The goal is to line up all X’s or O’s vertically, horrizontally or diagonally on a 3 by 3 grid.

The Kindle version includes 16 games that you play against the Kindle.  Jon Larimer, the author of Tic Tac Toe also has a two player version of Tic Tac Toe available.  This one is much more interactive.  The games range from easy to rather difficult, and they alternate who gets to make the first move.

Tic Tac Toe is a great game for the Kindle platform because of its simple graphics and easy navigation.  All you have to do is move the 5-way toggle button to move the pieces.

There aren’t many reviews yet.  But, 2 out of the 3 like the game, and the third thinks it is too easy.  Due to the nature of Tic Tac Toe, it is understandable that it might be too easy for some.

Scott T. Moore “Rocky Top Scott”:

“What is there to say but it’s Tic Tac Toe, and its for your Kindle. Great for children and adults alike. Great for those long road trips when you’re tired of reading “Game Change” on your Kindle and need something more stimulating.”

So, overall, not a bad deal.  A simple, family friendly game for a great price.

Kindle Exceeds Expectations This Year

Early on, analysts were guessing that the Kindle had about 5 million sales in its 2010 future.  Overall, an impressive gain after Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) managed about 2.4 million last year (according to anonymous report since Amazon doesn’t disclose sales figures on this). Current estimates, however, have the projection set at an even more impressive 8 million units by year’s end.  We obviously knew things were going well when we heard in October that the new Kindle, only released in July, was already outselling last year’s fourth quarter Kindle figures by a noticeable amount, but the numbers are even more exceptional than anticipated.

It’s been an interesting year for eReaders in general.  The Kindle‘s chief competition, the Nook, went color(perhaps prematurely, perhaps not, depending on your point of view), the iPad has successfully carved a huge place for itself in the portable computing marketplace and paved the way for an entire Tablet PC industry in the process, and eBooks have become so commonplace that it is actually harder to find something with a screen that you can’t read on than it is to find a way to read your new book.  There was some concern expressed, quite loudly at times, that the stand-alone eReader was a thing of the past with the coming of the tablet PC and the Kindle vs iPad debates.  Some people were convinced that two such devices couldn’t coexist.  This has obviously not panned out, in spite of Apple’s impressive sales figures since the April debut of the iPad.  It seems clear that the demand is only going to grow for some time yet.  As for the Nook Color, time will tell.  It’s certainly a neat addition, even if some see it as less than ideal for its primary purpose, and given how great the Kindle vs Nook competition was as a spur for development in the eReader marketplace, we can hope that it will do at least well enough to stay in the game.

What makes this whole trend even more useful for Amazon is that the Kindle isn’t their only means of distribution.  Even for those who don’t see a use in having something quite so narrowly focussed, you can’t avoid seeing the Kindle App line coming up wherever you need it.  Projections put annual sales of eBooks at 2.8 billion dollars within the next five years, according to analysts.  Right now, it looks like the biggest slice of that is heading through Amazon, whether to Kindle owners or not.  While the format might not be what some people would prefer, Amazon choosing not to support the popular EPUB standard, this makes Kindle Editions one of the safest ways to be certain of your eBook purchasing.  It’s just that little bit of extra reassurance if you know that you never have to worry about losing your files over a hardware crash or wrongly deleted folder, right?

Basically, an all around great year for both the Kindle and the eBook industry in general.  Hopefully projections bear out and we have even more to look forward to in the near future.  Reading’s never been so convenient or accessible.

Kindle Skins

Kindle SkinCuteness overload!

I have been using this adorable giraffe (originally created by Vlad Gerasimov) as my desktop wallpaper for a couple years now. Each time I need to make a presentation, thus exposing my desktop to the strangers’ eyes – I always get a few giggles and compliments towards my choice of desktop image. I was stoked to see this artwork reprinted as as Kindle Skin by DecalGirl.

I can only imagine the amount of compliments one would get for a similar Kindle Skin! Winter time is time to dress up your Kindle. Many more DecalGirl Kindle Skins available for $19.99 – all created by very talented artists.

Kindle SkinIf you do not find anything by DecalGirl that is up to your liking, there are also Kindle Skins available by GelaSkins. GelaSkins’ selection of designs is quite nifty too – the owl charmed my heart away.

I did not notice any major differences in the quality and customers’ reviews between these brands. Except that DecalGirl states on their website that if a customer damages the Kindle Skin, while installing it on their Kindle, then they promise to replace it for free. The customer would only cover the shipping costs. I’m not sure how topical is the issue of damaging Kindle Skins during the installation process, but I have to agree, this is pretty nice of DecalGirl to offer. As for the price, it is only five cents difference – GelaSkins are $19.95.

And in case if you are stern like a samurai – you like the idea of dressing up your Kindle, but cute giraffes and owls with eyes full of tenderness and love-stricken insomnia seem a bit overwhelming, here is a Kindle Skin just for you – plain and black. It is $14.99, by Solid State.

Tolstoy and Kindle

The Elegance of the HedgehogAs I was reading Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog (which I quite enjoyed, by the way), I could not help myself but notice that the author emblematizes intelligence and erudition in one particular author, Leo Tolstoy. I found it a little amusing and curious – in order to demonstrate the concierge’s intellectuality, Barbery keeps mentioning Tolstoy as her favorite author. The hilarious part, of course, is that she names her cat Leo and that is supposedly what highly intelligent people do. Tolstoy, in fact, becomes the reason why the concierge befriends one of the wealthy and highly educated residents, Mr. Ozu. He is also a fan of Tolstoy, and also gives his cats Tolstoy-related names – Kitty and Levin, from Anna Karenina (which by the way, is free in Kindle edition). And do not question his intelligence! Of course, he is a bookworm – he read Tolstoy!

War and PeaceIt is not the first time, when I see Tolstoy’s name being dropped here and there as a symbol of individual’s high education. I do not want to dwell upon the thought, whether I agree or disagree with such choice of symbol for erudition. However, Tolstoy’s novels do look intimidating just by looking at the size of the paperback, and even worse – hardcover books. I remember, when I was reading War and Peace, I think, I developed an unusual group of muscles – right around my wrists, just by holding the heavy tome of War and Peace. Also, snuggling with such book in bed is not as comfortable due to the weight of the volumes. And I’m not even going to begin discussing the pains of carrying such book around and reading it in public transportation or in the office, while you wait for the appointment. I mean, it’s not only that you look hilarious behind a gigantic book – almost like Harry Potter behind an encyclopedia of magic spells. It’s just simply impossible to carry such enormous weight around.

The beauty with Kindle is the readily available collections of Tolstoy’s novels for sale. And, also one would not feel intimidated by the ginormous size of Tolstoy’s books. If you considered reading Tolstoy, went to the bookstore, flipped through the pages and ran away scared of the amount of pages, then seriously consider giving Tolstoy another chance – try reading his works in Kindle. Yes, you can still see how many pages there are. However, the beauty with e-books is that they conceal the intimidating part – the physicality of big volumes. You start reading, get into the plot, and you would not even notice until you are through with the novel. War and Peace around is priceless.

Kindle for Android Magazine Update

There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind at this point that Kindle eBooks are here to stay, right?  I mean, I’m pretty sure we’ve made that point before, so why dwell on it?  Well, think for a minute how many people have traditionally done most of their reading in things besides books.  Obviously magazines and newspapers are an impressively large market to extend the concept into.  Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN), similar to B&N and others, has been making a push to get a hold on this new market.  We’ve recently seen a rather extensive update to the Kindle Magazine marketplace in the form of Kindle for Android compatibility updates.

The Kindle for Android app, in addition to and much like the Kindle device itself , now allows its users to subscribe to over a hundred different periodicals and newspapers through the Amazon site.  The basic format is nice, and pretty well suited to the devices most likely to be displaying these publications.  It is primarily text-based, of course, which works out really well given the small amount of screen real estate you’re dealing with.  Images such as those you’d see on the existing Kindle publications are still included, but now they’re in color.  As is not at all surprising, magazines and color get along well.  Subscriptions come automatically delivered to your device, and you can even sign up for more material through the built-in store right in the app itself.  The implementation isn’t disappointing in the slightest in spite of the transition to a small screen by what has long been a fairly large-format type of publication.

This update could be seen, in many ways, as a response to the recently released Nook Color eReader.  While many reports (and I’ll admit that my own experience supports this and might add slightly to the bias here) indicate that the screen is anywhere from mediocre to horrible for lengthy book reading, the full color screen and quick refresh rate make it perfect for quick reads like magazines, recipe books, and kids books. Since Amazon doesn’t have a similar product on the market right now, they can at least allow for development of their marketplace by capitalizing on the abilities of the many Android based devices that have sprung up left and right since the dawn of the Tablet PC marketplace.  Not a bad idea to be having.

It’s fairly widely perceived to be inevitable that Amazon will eventually come up with a full color eReader display for future Kindle releases, so this will also hopefully go some way toward having a fleshed-out marketplace ready for the new capabilities.  I don’t mean to deride the capabilities of the Kindle device in the slightest, it’s the best for what it does by a fair margin in my opinion, but there’s just something lacking in the magazine presentation on the existing eInk screen.  If you’re an Android user, give it a try.  Amazon offers a fair selection of magazines to grab in free trial to see if this is something you’d be interested in.  Chances are good that you won’t be disappointed.

Kindle Edition Gift Recommendations: Vampires

Continuing in my efforts to bring out some good popular fiction ideas in time for that last minute Kindle gift giving, I’ve made it through another batch of surprisingly good books I’d never heard of before.  In what I can only assume is a completely bizarre connection to the holiday season that I was previously unaware of, I was urged by enthusiastic readers to highlight the following recommendations!  It’s clearly still one of the hottest trends in popular fiction, so today I present you with a Vampire-themed gift collection:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Seth Grahame-Smith

This is the second work by the author of the popular Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  As with that one, it’s impressive how well he managed to mix the new supernatural additions with the period-specific information and tone.  I was impressed to the point of grabbing myself a dead-tree copy too.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what it would be like if one of our favorite presidents was actually an axe-wielding defender of humanity with motives for gaining the presidency beyond simple politics(and really, who doesn’t wonder that from time to time?), then this one will fit quite well.  It’s subtly done, shows a great deal of historical research, and doesn’t go over the top in the slightest.  Strongly recommended.

The Kindle Edition is $9.99

Night Pleasures – Sherrilyn Kenyon

This is an early installment, if not the first, in Kenyon’s popular supernatural romance series.  The underlying conceit is that vampires are real, originating in a conflict among the greek deities, and that some of the greatest (and most handsome) heroes in history have been recruited to be the super-powered immortal protectors of humanity against them.

Once these heroes agree, their jobs are their lives until such time as they manage to find true love.  Seems like a great deal at the time, I’m sure, but after a few hundred years it gets old, setting the stage for all sorts of action, romance, and drama.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

Dracula – Bram Stoker

I questioned adding this one to the list at first.  Not because it isn’t a great idea, but because it is free and therefore un-giftable in the usual sense.  That said, I think it’s worth pointing out as something worth grabbing, especially when buying for a kid who finds the usual “classics” to be more than a little but boring or unapproachable.

Let’s face it, this is where it all started as far as the Vampire craze.  Everybody has heard of it, but how many people have gone further than seeing the movies?  It’s a good read, even today, and will provide an interesting counterpoint to the popular conception of everybody’s favorite form of undead monster.

The Kindle Edition is FREE

Hopefully this opens up some ideas for you in time to do some good!  Kindle lovers definitely provide some great opportunities for last minute buying that don’t involve driving all over town.  I know it’s made my life easier, and with luck I’m not the only one.  Remember, the person you’re buying for doesn’t have to be a Kindle owner since the apps are everywhere these days!  As always, if you have any recommendations you want to share, let me know and I’ll see what I can do!

‘Kindelized’ Christmas

Kindle AdvertisementWith Christmas coming up, I noticed the news about Kindle is focused on predicting the number of Kindle sales during pre-Christmas shopping time. I also see some Christmas anticipation from the Kindle community – some folks cannot wait until the X day to give Kindle as a gift to someone special, others hope to find Kindle in their Christmas stocking, and a couple of people indulge in bragging about getting Kindle as an early Christmas present (most likely they were also the givers).

Does the fact that Kindle is the best selling item on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), magnify the urge to buy Kindle even more? Would it be the “herd-instinct” (kudos to Nietzsche for coining the term), i.e. everybody has Kindle, therefore I want one; or it would be due to the belief – if so many people purchase Kindle then it must be good? Well, as for me – clearly, it makes me wonder. Who would we attribute the predicted numbers for Kindle sales – to the agile marketing strategy, or to Kindle’s superiority among the e-book readers? Mind you, the 8 million of future Kindle sales is a mere prognosis for now. Personally, I cannot wait to see if this prognosis will be supported by the facts after Christmas. In any case, I am applauding to Amazon marketing team: the Kindle advertisement’s slogan is solid, strong, and concise.

Kindle Covers Catalog

While browsing the web I ran across a website that catalogues Kindle Covers. While website is small and simple, it’s quite useful for taking a look at you Kindle Cover choices in one glance. You can also filter Covers by kind: clear, leather, silicone, etc. Enjoy!

Kindle vs. Sony PRS-350 Review: First impressions, ergonomics and charging (part 1)

Sony PRS-350 Touch eBook ReaderDuring the 2010 Black Friday sales I was able to purchase Sony PRS-350 Pocket Edition (NYSE:SNE) from Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) for $130 which is $20 less than what it usually goes for. After playing around with the device for a while I decided to put together this review. While I mostly use Amazon Kindle (NASDAQ:AMZN) personally, I’ve also interacted with Nook, previous Sony eBook readers, namely PRS-505 and PRS-600 Touch as well as Apple iPad/iPhone, Android apps. I’ve been quite unhappy with several features of Sony eReaders and it was very interesting for me to see if these features were fixed.

Charging

First of these shortcomings was the fact that you couldn’t do anything with the reader while it was charging via USB cable. You could read if you purchased optional AC power adapter but not otherwise. Sony PRS-350 doesn’t have a dedicated charging port. In fact the only connector it has is micro-USB that can be used for transferring books from your PC and charging. Unlike Kindle you still can’t read while charging from your computer. You can read when charging via PRSA-AC1 wall AC adapter. However this adapter costs an outrageous (some something this simple) sum of $30 and is quite bulky compared to similar AC-to-USB adapters for iPhone or Kindle.

Not wanting to add to the army of such adapters I already have at home (especially for $30 a piece) I tried first several power adapters that I could dig up – namely from Apple iPhone 3G and Amazon Kindle 3. Sony reader treated the Apple adapter just a computer – it went into “USB Charging” screen that I couldn’t get out of. But it responded much better to Amazon Kindle adapter – the red charging light lit up and the battery began charging. Conclusion: To keep reading while charging the battery on Sony PRS-350 you either to buy a power adapter from Sony or find a compatible one since it seems that not all USB charging adapters are created equal.

Kindle vs Sony PRS350 size comparisonErgonomics

As far as ergonomics go, Sony PRS-350 is much smaller and ligher than Kindle 3 due to smaller screen and lack of keyboard. It will easily fit into most shirt pockets where Kindle would not. PRS-350 is comfortable to hold in hand and paging buttons are easy to use. So ergonomically it wins over Kindle.

Screen

PRS-350/650/950 are Sony’s second attempt at building a touchscreen eReader, PRS-600 being the first one in 2009. In PRS-600 resistive touchscreen layer was overlaid over eInk display. While this approach works well with backlit LCD screens, with reflective eInk it produced a display with very poor contrast ratio (see comparison with Kindle 3 and 2). This was reported the most significant weakness of the device by both consumers and reviewers. In PRS-350, Sony used infrared touchscreen technology that doesn’t require anything being put on top of the screen. As a result, Sony PRS350 features latest generation high-contrast Pearl eInk screen in it’s full excellence same as Kindle 3.

Screen in the Sony device has the same number of pixels as its Amazon counterpart, but one inch smaller diagonal. This results in slightly crisper but smaller images and text.

Bottom line comparison

So of the things that were covered in todays review:

  • Sony and Kindle are tied in the screen department
  • Sony definitely has better ergonomics. It should be noted that Kindle ergonomics are very good too and would be “good enough” for most users.
  • Sony has improved their device charging and power management story. Kindle still has a significant lead in this department with better battery life and ability to read while charging from computer USB port (a common scenario on an airplane). It should be noted that for most users it would make little difference.

All-in-all, devices are tied right now so unless you intend to carry your eReader in ultra small purse where Kindle just would not fit.

To fully evaluate the device I’m going to read Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs on it and report on how it goes. I’ll also do some in-depth PDF support testing.

Ads in Kindle Books a Possibility?

As eBooks gain more popularity, it can’t really surprise anybody to see advertisers trying to cash in.  Does this mean we can expect to start seeing ads in our Kindle books?  There’s no real push that way yet, but it only makes sense, really.  If offsetting some of the cost of a new book by putting up with a few pages of ads is possible, I doubt most people will mind.

Before anybody gets too up in arms, I should probably point out that this isn’t precisely a new and innovative concept.  Off the top of my head, the earliest example of ads in books (and I’m not making any claim of this being the actual earliest example by any means) would be in Victorian serials, such as most of the Dickens releases.  In more recent years, not much has changed.  WOWIO, a popular eBook marketplace, has proven that it is possible to provide free books to interested consumers without taking sales revenue away from the authors by allowing advertisers to adopt specific titles and “wrap” them with ads at the front and back of the book.

The only question is what format the advertising is going to take.  We’ve discovered over the years that the internet, traditionally a primarily textual medium however much that is changing in recent years, didn’t exactly encourage people to stick with your average magazine ad equivalent.  Pop up ads, obnoxiously loud talking ads, animated gifs, flash animation, and more have all become pretty much a staple of internet browsing.  Let’s be honest and say that there’s not much that could destroy the reading experience more effectively than these things manifesting in the middle of your book.

Overall, there’s a lot of potential here, both for great things and for unpleasantness.  My impression is that a lot of the reason advertisers avoid books is that they sell in small numbers, compared to other forms of media consumption, and they last too long to be useful.  What good does an ad do for somebody when it’s in a book I bought five years ago, right?  Well, with devices like the Kindle, there is at least some potential for periodic advertising updates in books located on their servers, right?  Sounds unpleasant, but it ends up being all about the implementation.

The only place where I’m really leery of what might happen is on the many Kindle apps, and possibly future hardware offerings, which are capable of displaying video and playing sounds.  It’s neat to be able to play integrated video in your eBooks, but if that means that ads can be inserted that will take advantage of the same capabilities, it’s not worth it.  For now, at least it’s nice to know that the Kindle device itself is safe, and that authors are given enough control over their works through Amazon, in general, that this will likely not be something that sneaks up on people if or when it does come around.  When it does, who knows but that we might really appreciate the opportunity for some great new free or cheap eBooks in spite of the ads?

Free Kindle from geek.com and Target

Geek.com and Target have put together foreheads and came up with a simple, but elegant strategy to ask the internet users, why they haven’t purchased an e-book yet.  The model is beautiful in its simplicity.  They are giving away one Kindle (kindly provided by Target) to a randomly chosen user.  In order to enter the contest, one has to leave a comment, explaining why he or she has not bought an e-book.  Randomly selected comment will be the winner and the future owner of the free Kindle.  Users have to leave their comments at http://www.geek.com/articles/gadgets/geek-com-holiday-giveaway-win-a-kindle-20101216/.

The contest ends tomorrow, Tuesday, December 21, 2010.

Some restrictions apply:

  • US residents only
  • Please use a working email in your comment. It won’t be used for anything aside from contacting the winner.
  • Only one comment per e-mail address, if we see more than one, you won’t be included in the draw
  • The winner will have 24 hours to respond and after that time we’ll move on to the next person.
  • By the way – We’ll ship as soon as possible but no promises that this will arrive before Xmas!

via Geek.com

So far, I can divide the answers into three major categories.

The biggest chunk of the answers is about the price of an e-book.  In this category, people cannot find a good justification for paying over $100 for an e-book, and then continue to pay for the books.

Linda explains, “I haven’t yet purchased a Kindle because of the price. It’s not only a large initial outlay, but the cost of purchasing books is also somewhat prohibitive. I download and listen to audiobooks for free through my public library, and the price can’t be beat!

Also, Gary Blakesley writes, “The price of an e-reader does not make economic sense until the difference in price of the e-book versus printed book is such that you can easily make up for the e-reader price”.

“nascarfan09” says, “If you purchase an e-book you can’t resell or share like you can with a regular book.

In the second category, people are waiting for certain improvements in the world of e-books, such as color, faster e-ink, better text-book availability, etc.

Ashley Jellen says, “I have not bought a Kindle because I am waiting for the device to be more educational-oriented. Reading books on kindle are great but I want to use it for studying as well. I hope they will offer e-textbook on kindle and give the option to see e-books with page number.

The third category consists of the real-book-lovers.

User with a nickname “Tacoloft” comments, “I have not purchased an e-book reader because I am so fond of actual books. Also, the idea I could lose all of my digital books due to hardware failure makes me hesitant.

On one hand, this contest is a good advertisement for Target’s Kindle sales rack – Target sells 3G model for $189 and Wi-Fi model for $139.  On another hand, it is a quality outreach towards “e-book-less” internet users.  The only problem with the purity of the answers is the fact that those, who participate in this contest, are the ones, who do not have an e-book, but desiring to have it one day.  Personally, I would also like to hear the answers of the ardent e-book-haters – those who do not own an e-book and not planning to purchase it at this moment.

Kindle Edition Gift Suggestions

Once again, we have some last minute gift suggestions for the Kindle lover in your life.  We’ve got some old favorite, some new ones I’d never heard of before, and a good time all around.  Here you go, and I hope you find them both useful and enjoyable!

The Autobiography of Santa Claus – Jeff Guinn

This is a somewhat interesting holiday read bringing some history, some myth, and some imagination together to make an account of Santa’s “life” so far.  There are some criticisms that I can see the validity of when it comes to the exclusively Christian bent on the whole Santa thing, but to get really upset you’d have to be taking it seriously.  Taking fictional autobiographies seriously is bad, right?

Anyway, doing my best to avoid giving away the story, readers can expect reindeer, an impressive array of historic figures, lots of magic, some information about the usefulness of chimneys, and much more.  If you like a fairly light read, perhaps with the kids, I’d say you can’t really go too far wrong here.  The history seemed just a little bit spotty, personally, but it’s loads of fun.

The Kindle Edition is $10.99

World of Warcraft: The Shattering – Christie Golden

Normally, I’m not a fan of novelizations of games and movies.  They just tend to feel…half-baked somehow.  This one comes across as a little bit of a surprise, though.  I won’t claim that it’s among the best books I’ve ever read, as a book, but it was impressively thorough and well written.

Now, what makes this really stand out is the World of Warcraft association.  This is the most popular video game…well, ever, I suppose?  Chances are good that you, like me, know at least a few people who play at least as a guilty pleasure from time to time, if not regularly!  I’m told that the storylines in this add impressive depth to the new and amazingly popular expansion pack to the big game that really make it worth the investment.

The Kindle Edition is $12.99

Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris

This one actually got multiple hits on my recommendation request, so I jumped on it and read it right away.  I think that it might be an acquired taste?  Seriously, though, it’s a vampire romance book.  If that combination of words works for you, this is the book you want.  Same goes for if you or somebody you know is a fan of HBO’s True Blood series, since it is based rather closely on these books in the first place.  I’ll admit, it would never have occurred to me to name a vampire Bill, so it’s got that going for it!

It’s the story of a down to earth, but somewhat unusual, woman living in a version of the United States that has just started legally recognizing vampires as citizens, and her adventures. It’s also the start to a fairly long and popular series that I’m told only gets better as you keep going.  Definitely seems like a good one for the romance lover you’re buying for.

The Kindle Edition is $6.99

That’s what I’ve got so far!  Keep ‘em coming and I’ll try to keep up.  Hopefully, this will give some ideas to help make the most of the shipping-free gifting option that the Kindle makes possible.

Hangman 4 Kids – Kindle Edition

It is good to see a game for kids from Sonic Boom who has created Hangman 4 Kids. It actually has better reviews than the adult counterpart, Hangman.В  Hangman 4 Kids is only $1.99 for the Kindle, which is not a bad price.

Hangman 4 Kids is a great way to improve vocabulary skills for both children and adults.В  It might also open the door for children to get interested in reading books on the Kindle.

Hangman 4 Kids Kindle edition is a lot like your old trusty paper version.В  Your goal is the complete a word before the body is complete.В  Each letter you get wrong, a body part is added to the figure.В  The perk to the Kindle version over the pen and paper version is that you can choose from a variety of categories, and the Kindle generates the words for you.В  Categories include Science, Entertainment, Sports, Careers and more.

You get two hints per game and you have a choice between a snowman or a gingerbread man.В  That beats stick figures!В  Be aware that you lose body parts if you ask for a hint.

The reviews are good.В  There is nothing less than three stars for Hangman 4 Kids.В  Now letв_Ts hear what some of the reviewers have to say.

A Customer:

“I really like it. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it doesn’t show you the answer to the puzzle when you get it wrong. they should change that in thier next version. Other than tha it is a great and fun game. Worth the money.”

Amazonoholic:

“I downloaded this for my son to play but it seems that most of the Hangman phrases, so far, are Disney movies? We don’t watch a lot of Disney movies (the younger ones anyway), so to guess what the phrase is, is not so fair for him. Otherwise, great idea to help him learn and have fun at the same time.”

So, overall a good game for a low price.В  I find it interesting that the words in Hangman 4 Kids tend to focus on Disney characters.В  Iв_Tm surprised there isnв_Tt more Dora the Explorer or Sesame Street.

Wordoku Unbound – Kindle Edition

If you like Sudoku and challenging puzzle games, check out Wordoku Unbound for theВ  Kindle.В  This game has the best reviews Iв_Tve seen with nothing but 5 stars.В  Puzzazz has done an excellent job with Wordoku and hopefully will continue to produce great quality games for the Kindle in the future.

Wordoku Unbound uses the same Sudoku grid, but instead of numbers. Each cell must be filled with letters that complete a word or phrase in each 3 by 3 square.В  Wordoku contains 100 different puzzles and you can choose any of them to fit your difficulty comfort level.

As in the Kindle version of Sudoku, there is a notes feature that allows you to write notes in cells before making a final decision.В  Hints are available if you get stuck.

Here is a glimpse of what reviewers think of Wordoku.

S. Kaphan:

в__It’s pleasing to the eye, easy to learn even without reading the instructions, and is also sophisticated enough for advanced users. That’s not easy to achieve. It also makes excellent use of the Kindle’s unique mix of capabilities. I’m looking forward to more kinds of puzzles for the Kindle from Puzzazz.в__

B. Rogers:

в__For starters, the book is dynamic. There are 100 puzzles, but I’m not locked into the “factory setting” difficulty levels. They’re not all easy, medium or hard – nor are they evenly distributed. They’re whatever I want them to be. I kept them on easy at first, until I got the hang of the format, and then ramped them up to medium (which were plenty tough enough for me, so I didn’t try the hard setting).

Solving is smooth. The interface is intuitive, and switching between taking notes and filling in answers is easy enough that I figured out how to do it without referring to the instructions. There is also a robust “undo” function that makes use of the back button – clever.в__

R. Jordan:

в__I’ve been looking for a puzzle book to use with my Kindle for a while now, and what I’ve found are things that seem to be designed for an iPad or PC and moved to the Kindle platform. Most of these were game applications that weren’t terribly easy to use – a Kindle is designed for reading and some basic text input; it’s not a gaming platformв_│

Wordoku is a nice twist on Sudoku – using letters instead of numbers makes a lot of sense with the Kindle keypad. This makes solving the puzzles feel completely natural, just like using a pencil in a game magazine (except you’ll never lose your pencil).в__

So, there you have it, a user friendly puzzle game that is unique to the Kindle platform and has a difficulty level for everyone.В  You canв_Tt beat that.

Kindle Color Name Guessing

With commercially viable Kindle Color eInk displays announced in November, Mirasol displays being around for a while and Barnes & Noble Nook Color being widely perceived (though not by me) as first color eReader, it seems inevitable to me that Kindle Color is going to be released sometime soon.

Therefore I would like to hold a small guessing contest. The idea is to guess how will be called when it is released. While Kindle Color seems to be most obvious idea, there’s not telling how Amazon will end up naming the device. It seems reasonable that Kindle part will stay since it’s a well established brand that is recognized by customers and heavily advertised. I’m open to suggestion about the second part. So I propose a following two stage contest:

  • Until December 25th inclusive you can leave your ideas about Kindle Color name as comments on this post. On the 26th I will randomly choose a comment and present the winner with Lighted Leather Cover in any available color. If you would prefer a cover without light, that’s a viable option too. You will be able to select either once I contact you in case you are the winner.
  • The grand prize would be the Kindle Color eReader device itself once it comes out. It will be awarded to whoever first guesses the device name. Since I want this to be a contest of creativity rather than speed, “Kindle Color” name is not eligible for the grand prize. If it indeed turns out to be the name, I’ll donate the grand prize to some good charitable cause.

So, happy guessing! I’m looking forward to these comments!

Kindle for Windows Phone 7 Announced

One of the major selling points of the Kindle product line has always been the ability to read your books on pretty much anything with a screen you might happen to be sitting next to.  When you go with Amazon’s eBooks, what you’re doing is effectively eliminating platform distinctions, at least in theory.  Of course, the recent release of Google’s entirely platform-agnostic eBook store shook things up more than a bit! Still, what gaps there are in the Kindle coverage are being filled in enthusiastically.

It would not have been entirely surprising if, after the recent unveiling of the upcoming Kindle for the Web service, we had seen a drop in attention given to platform specific software options.  After all, if the idea is to be accessible anywhere,  a browser-based option has you pretty much covered, right?  Apparently that’s not going to be quite the direction things are taken.

The recently announced Kindle app for Windows Phone 7 isn’t likely to surprise anybody with its feature set at this point (it is just the latest incarnation of a chain of six or seven other apps depending on how you count it), but it does manage to accommodate the potential needs of a quickly growing segment of the smart-phone marketplace. As expected, you will have adjustable font sizing, background coloration, integrated eBook store access, social networking possibilities, and the ever useful WhisperSync keeping track of where you left off.

While the jury is still out as to the future of the new OS in light of its more established competition (let’s face it, you can’t really consider Windows Mobile to have been a particularly valid entry into the consumer marketplace), the potential for its inclusion in the increasingly popular tablet PC marketplace alongside Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android makes this an incredibly lucrative market for Amazon to tap, at least in theory.

With this addition to the Kindle‘s software line, they’re drawing pretty near to having an entry into every portion of the active cellular marketplace. The only really significant point to jump in would seem, from what I know, to be with Nokia’s Symbian OS.  While I’m admittedly not the one to talk to about the potential technical complications of putting out something for that operating system, the demand seems to be there if the ongoing petition is anything to go by.

There’s not much more to be said about this one.  As always, I can’t say that I would find myself happy with using a phone or tablet pc as my primary reading device at any point (empirical evidence supporting the eye strain complaint as it does for me), but as a supplement to my Kindle itself, these apps have frequently come in handy.  Sometimes you don’t feel like carrying around that extra device that just won’t quite fit in your pocket, but who doesn’t have their phone with them at any given time?  It’s a convenience, and one I’m particularly glad I don’t have to do without.

Jane Austen: A Timeless Collection of Classics for Kindle

If you are a Jane Austen fan, what could be better than having all of her novels in one available for the Kindle and Kindle DX for only 99 cents?  The Works of Jane Austen includes Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Love and Friendship and Lady Susan.  The collection also includes a biography of the author, as well as indexes for each novel.

You can download her novels including Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion individually for free.  I think it is easier to have them all in one place though.  The reviews of The Complete Works of Jane Austen are nothing less than 5 stars.

One thing that stands out about Austen’s Emma is that it is more of a character study novel than a romance.  So, for those who prefer less romance, this one is your book.  Emma is about a rich young woman named Emma who takes Harriet Smith, a beautiful, but not so smart young girl under her wing.  Emma tries to dictate Harriet’s love life and meddles in everyone’s affairs.  She learns the hard way that she does NOT always know best and that controlling other peoples’ lives do not put you in a favorable light.

Emma’s controlling and self absorbed nature is a trait we see often today.  The trait may manifest itself in more modern day ways, but the trait remains the same.  So, the reader can relate to the novel despite that it was written so long ago.  However, many readers are not a big fan of Emma’s character, which in turn reflects on their opinions of the novel as a whole.

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s debut novel.  It explores the romantic misfortunes of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne.  It is interesting to discover the reactions of each as they are betrayed by the men they love.  Marianne is a free spirit with disregard for society rules, whereas Elinor is much more rational and reserved.  The novel shows that a good relationship requires a balance between romance and reserve.

Persuasion was Austen’s final novel, and it was published after her death.  As with her earlier novels, this one explores the social aspects of nineteenth century England.  Anne Elliot is persuaded to leave the love of her life because he did not allow her to move up the social ladder.  Years later, he reenters her life and she never found anyone else.  The message is to follow your heart and instincts.  Often, even your closest friends may not be right about who you are meant to be with.  This sentiment is true even today.

Not too long ago, I read a book called According to Jane by Marilyn Brant that follows Ellie from high school to age 34.  Through this time, Jane Austen lives in her mind as a friend and confidant.  As you read this book, you will find elements from Austen’s novels.  Ellie and Sam are a modern Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Ellie is persuaded to go against her instincts in many cases and suffers one romantic disaster after another.  I like the tone of this book and I like how Brant makes Jane such a natural part of Ellie’s life.  According to Jane brings you into the life of the character and makes you feel like you are experiencing life right along with her.

Jane Austen Kindle books: Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Kindle EditionPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, is a classic most of us remember from English class in high school or college.  You can download it on the Kindle and Kindle DX for free along with many of her other beloved books including Emma and PersuasionJane Austen does an excellent job of caputuring the essence of ninteenth century courtship and marriage.

Pride and Prejudice features the Bennetts, a country bred family with aspirations to move up on the social ladder.  Their income and way of life is at the hands of a distant relative.  If Mr. Bennett dies, they lose everything.  So, the future is in the hands of the Bennett daughters who must marry for financial security and for good social standing.

After meeting Mr. Bingley and his friend, Mr. Darcy, Mrs. Bennett sets out to marry them off to at least one of the her daughters.  Mr. Bingley quickly takes to Jane, the oldest daughter and they enjoy a pleasant relationship and marriage.

Much of Pride and Prejudice is focused on Elizabeth Bennett, the second oldest daughter.  She is sought after by Mr. Collins, but the feelings aren’t mutual.  So, he settles for Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte instead.  Society today can still appreciate the distinctions of marrying for love versus marrying to settle.  The emotions of jealousy and longing involved are timeless.

The relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is an unlikely one because they have to overcome the obstacles of conflicting personalities, as well as interference from Mrs. Bennett.  In efforts to not reveal key parts of the story, I urge you to pay attention to how their relationship unfolds.  Elizabeth is smart, has a great sense of humor and deals with the issues with her siblings and meddling mother quite well.  She shows traits of independence and intellect that is unusual for women of that day and time.

It all depends on your literary preferences.  Some really connect well with Pride and Prejudice and Austen’s other novels.  Others find it boring.  Austen does such a great job of developing her characters and interconnecting their lives.  She also has a very unique writing style that will always be revered in the literary world.

What do you think of Austen’s books?  Do you have a particular favorite?

Kindle Editions or Paper Books as Gifts?

I think it has been established by a lot of people that the chances of the Kindle, or any kindle-like device, eliminating the paper book are slim.  This isn’t a bad thing, of course, but it adds a certain element of uncertainty to the book purchasing decision.  Do you want to have something to put on your shelf?  Something that you can crease and write in and pile up with a feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day?  Or would you rather always know that you can have your book at the push of a button?  Sometimes it’s just nice to know that wherever you go you can have a huge selection of books to choose from without destroying your back carrying around a whole library.

It tends to come down to a personal decision based on preference, price, and the nature of the book in question.  I wouldn’t mind spending an extra few dollars for that first edition hardcover from an author I like.  Maybe I’ll never get around to having it signed or anything, but it’s nice to see it on the shelf and there’s something to be said for having something you care about right there in your hands.  When my options are eBook or Mass Market Paperback, though, the choice swings the other way pretty abruptly.

This becomes significantly more complicated, of course, when it comes to giving gifts.  We all know people for whom books always go over well, but it’s getting hard to decide if the fact that somebody really likes their Kindle is grounds for not providing a physical copy to unwrap and open.  It feels almost anticlimactic to say “Hey, I got you something!  Check your email to unwrap it!”, but if the person you’re gifting at is an eBook fanatic or doesn’t have much space for dead tree products, it would seem to make more sense at a glance.  How do you decide?

For me, a lot of it comes down to the person and the circumstances of gift giving.  Do they travel a lot or commute daily?  eBook.  Will I be there for the unwrapping or is this a distance-bridging gift exchange?  If I’m not there to hand it over, eBook.  No more impersonal than an Amazon box in the mail.  If, on the other hand, this is a family gathering sort of thing, paper is the way to go.  The nieces and nephews won’t be too happy, at least in my family, with something intangible.

Now that we can be fairly certain that the eBook is here to stay, I would say there’s no harm in throwing the occasional bit of Kindle media out there, if you think that it will be enjoyed.  Worst case scenario, the recipient can always choose to take that gift card for the value of the eBook rather than accepting the gift.  If you get really lucky though, you might just introduce somebody you care about to a whole new assortment of reading options to enjoy.

Kindle Book Gift Recommendations

As I’m sure at least some of us have observed by now, the holiday season is upon us.  Jingles are jingling all over town, lights are popping up in many a neighborhood, and you can no longer approach a shopping mall without a certain sense of trepidation. As in the case of the Amazon Black Friday Deals, use of the internet(and in this case specifically the Kindle Store) can save you loads of hassle.  We reported a while back that it was now possible to send out any Kindle eBook as a gift so long as the intended recipient has a valid email address.  Seems like a great way to avoid the crowds, if somebody you care about happens to like their Kindle.

Here’s a couple that struck me as good places to start, given the people I have to buy for this year:

Storm Front – Jim Butcher

This series, The Dresden Files of which this book is the first, took me by surprise.  I’m told that Butcher has an impressive following these days, but I was only turned onto him recently by a friend.

It’s a fun mix of urban fantasy and detective fiction set in modern day Chicago.  Just this first book dishes up sex, drugs, demons, vampires, mob bosses, angrily overworked police, and even a life or death car chase of sorts.  You can tell that the author was still figuring some things out in this first book, but it would be a hard book to dislike.  This one’s going to my younger brother, who claims he “isn’t into reading” and just got his Kindle for the internet utility and its usefulness as a storage space.  I think i can turn him around.

The Kindle Edition is $9.99

Lamb – Christopher Moore

Chances are good that you’ve heard of this book before.  At least, many of the regular readers I know seem to have at least had it recommended at some point.  There is a reason for this!  A good book will often get a chuckle out of me from time to time.  This book had me laughing so hard that I had to catch my breath.  This was a regular occurrence!

Yes, this is a book about Christianity in its way.  As such, it will upset some people by default.  Others, specifically a certain type of Christian, will see it as offensive if they choose to take it literally.  To these, I say that it is fiction, it is hilarious, and I can’t think of a single person I know who won’t be getting a copy whether they think they’ll like it or not.

The Kindle Edition is $10.99

All this is predicated on the assumption that your gift recipients have the ability to read eBooks, of course, but if they don’t have a computer, cell phone, tablet, etc, maybe they need a Kindle device more than they need the books, eh?  Anyway, for a lot of people this time of year is where you get your best chance to share your favorite reads with the people around you.  Not a year has gone by since I was a kid when I haven’t given and received dozens of books.  If you are similarly inclined and perhaps interested in sharing some quality Kindle reading material, drop me a line.

If I get some good responses, I’ll do what I can to spread the word.  I can’t promise that every book recommended will be read or reviewed, but I will do my best to get through at least a book a day for the next month or so.  Just please, no Tom Clancy…