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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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April 2011
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Kindle Notepad

notepadNow your Kindle can be used as a Notepad.  You can write grocery lists, to do lists, or anything you wish on your Kindle.  The great part is that it is portable, and cheap.  Cheaper than paper, and more environmentally friendly than paper.  Ever lost a grocery list?  The only way you can lose Notepad is to lose your Kindle.

Fonts

You can view your notes from two different font types, and choose from 6 different font sizes.

Searching your notes

The handy part of Notepad is that you can search your notes.  This is helpful, and prevents a lot of unnecessary shifting around.  Sort the notes alphabetically, or by entry date.

How to write your notes

Just use your Kindle keyboard to type your notes.

Reviews

KindleAmazonDude

“Earlier, I had bought an app for the same porpose and have been wishing to replace it ever since. This app is extremely intuitive, fast, and useful. The main use for me is a planner, but it could be used for writing documents, like Word, and even spreadsdheets when you format | and _ into the document. This is a great app.”

C. Miller

“Notepad goes well beyond the functionality of a memo pad. So far, I have used it as a shopping-list organizer, recipe note card, phone and address book, reminder keeper and appointment book. I can note debit card purchases for entry later so that I don’t have to carry many things with me. Recently, I was in a warehouse store and wandered into the book section. I was able to make notes on several new releases I’d not noticed in the Kindle store. I can even use it as a time card for when I’m working at home.”

A. Murray

“I love this app. I recently lost my hand written notes about the order of all of my series I have on kindle. I became frustrated having to look the order up online and jot it down again. Now I have handy little notes that I quickly refer to before taking on a new series, or a favorite that I just can’t remember the order of the titles. At the price, it’s a steal and I’m very happy with the purchase.”

Note: just be careful with the sensitivity of what you put on there.  Another reviewer made a good point about not putting passwords on Notepad because of the chance your Kindle might get stolen.

 

Kindle Calendar App

Kindle CalendarOne of the most popular items for Amazon Kindle is calendar. Since the device doesn’t offer built-in calendar functionality, a number of alternatives has emerged in the form eBooks. They were of varying quality and were mostly useful for finding out which day of week certain date falls to. If you wanted to keep track of appointments, you had to use annotations which wasn’t too handy since annotations were never meant to be used this way.

Being Kindle developers we decided to improve things by writing a Kindle Calendar application. We are happy to announce that it is complete and available for purchase in the Kindle store for a nominal price of $0.99.

Kindle Calendar Pro features several views to navigate dates and events:

  • Month view that lets you see which how dates correspond to week days, and which days have appointments or other events scheduled
  • Year view is similar to month view but lets you see whole year at a glance
  • Day view shows detailed view of your events for any given day
  • Agenda view lets you see your upcoming events no matter how far in the future they are

You can use either system menu or hotkey shortcuts to switch between views and paging buttons to navigate days, weeks, months, years and even decades (depending on whether alt or shift key is pressed)

This is just the first version of our first Kindle App. If you have feedback about the calendar or any other apps that you would like to see written – you are welcome to comment here.

PS: As I was about to publish this post, the first review of the app came up on Amazon. It is well worth reading because it provides a good overview on how to use the app (including detailed info about keyboard shortcuts). I couldn’t have written it better myself.

Kindle for Android is Now More Tablet Friendly

Today Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced that they were releasing an update to their popular Kindle for Android software that would optimize it for use on tablet PCs using Android Honeycomb (Version 3.0).  The new software is intended to take all of the fun stuff that users liked about the existing software, add a few perks, and generally improve the way it takes advantage of larger screens than are common on Android based smartphones.  It all sounds pretty good.

The new features that users can expect from the update include an integrated storefront for the Kindle Store, an improved layout for newspaper and periodical display, an expanded enhanced dictionary with over 250,000 words, and the ability to control downloads of Kindle media.  On top of this, of course, is the usual Kindle experience including single purchase reading from any compatible device and convenient access to pretty much any book you might happen to want to read. The big improvement is naturally just the fact that it is a version specifically for tablet PCs rather than a stretched version of the reading software for Android phones.

This all ties in quite well with Amazon’s increasing presence in the Android marketplace.  Their app store is clearly doing well and this will be just one more thing that ties users into the larger Amazon customer experience.  If there was yet any doubt as to the efficacy of Amazon’s concentration on the media consumption side of gadgetry rather than on hardware profits, then we yet again have support in their favor.

Overall, the biggest improvements seem to be those for browsing and shopping the Kindle store.  It’s gone from a slightly unwieldy experience to that of literally having everything you’re likely to need at your fingertips right there within the app.  The Magazine improvements are hardly surprising, but they’re more than a little bit noticeable too.  Magazines and newspapers are the place where tablets really shine compared to eReaders, so it’s great to see full advantage being taken of the opportunities the hardware provides.

While I have no complaints about a better dictionary or greater control over downloading, they’re more subtle when it comes to day to day use.  I never really found the existing dictionary all that lacking, nor is there much of a problem in terms of books clogging my bandwidth.  I would assume the latter feature is geared toward situations where you would rather be able to download your book via WiFi or where audiobooks are simply too large to make sense to download all at once.  Neither one is anything to complain about, just not the fun flashy Kindle features that people tend to get excited about.

Existing Android users will not see any loss of functionality, of course, in spite of using the same software.  The smartphone friendly display mode is still present, and all the other new features are included anyway.  It’s a good time to be an Android user who shops at Amazon, whether your device of choice is a Honeycomb tablet or not.

Amazon Launches New German Kindle Store

Were you aware that even people who don’t live in the United States are interested in the Kindle?  I was shocked.  Ok, well, not that shocked.  Lame attempts at humor aside, Amazon has just opened up a localized Kindle store for German readers.  While this is a mixed blessing, which I’ll get into in a moment, the fact that more countries are getting their own Kindle stores is always going to be good news for the residents thereof.

The roll-out for the German store seems to have gone fairly smoothly.  Where before the only way to get a Kindle in Germany was to order through the US Amazon store, it is now available directly through Amazon.de and ties into the associated Amazon.de user account. Customers can already choose from over 650,000 titles (including 71 of 100 Spiegel bestsellers according to the press release), thousands of self published German authors using the Kindle Direct Publishing service, and a good selection of popular international and German magazines and newspapers.  All of this is available to users of both the Kindle eReader itself and the Kindle app family, including the PC, Mac, iOS, and Android programs.

All in all, great news for fans of the Kindle outside the US.  Who hasn’t heard of the complications facing people who try to import their eReader into an unsupported area, right?  The only people who are going to end up with real problems are those who wanted one badly enough to go out of their way and grab a US release.  These “early adopters” are likely to find themselves in the unpleasant position of having to choose between the books they have already acquired through Amazon and the benefits provided by the new store. As many UK customers can attest, digital rights management in an international environment can create problems from differing availability and pricing to seemingly arbitrary exclusivity issues.  It is to be hoped that the worst of this will be avoided in this case since the Amazon.de Kindle Store is catering more specifically to German-language eBook options than the US store has so far and as such will experience minimal overlap, so maybe this won’t be quite as noticeable as the US/UK divide seems to be?

The question this inevitably seems to lead to is whether or not this sort of thing will lead to a true localization of hardware to go along with the international store presence. At the moment German customers will still receive Kindles with English keyboards and interfaces, and the same sort of issue seems to be present in the menus for the app selection as well.  Whether the Kindle line makes the move to Android, as many have thought likely, or they simply keep going on the existing modified Linux build, it would seem to be both fairly simple and a good idea to make the software as accessible to everybody as possible.  That just leaves modifying the keyboard which would, admittedly, likely cause problems with the whole form factor production. A great deal seems like it depends on the success of this and other new stores.

Kindle with Special Offers Shipping Today

kindleThe new $114 Kindle with sponsored ads ships today, a week before it’s projected release date.  In addition to the usual Kindle perks, you’ll find that there are a bunch of new and improved features available.

First off, the readers have a bit of say so in what sponsored ads they want to see.  Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will be introducing a program called AdMash, that allows the readers to pick what ads they prefer to have as their screensaver.

Also, according to Amazon, special offers include a variety of coupons such as:

  • $10 for $20 Amazon.com Gift Card
  • $6 for 6 Audible Books (normally $68)
  • $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store (choose from over 1 million albums)
  • $10 for $30 of products in the Amazon Denim Shop or Amazon Swim Shop

You can find more detailed information about what the new Kindle offers on its product page.

In addition to the special offers and sponsored screensavers, the new Kindle has much needed improvements such as softer page turn buttons, audiobooks from Audible.com, and a new Kindle Library Lending program is coming soon.  Best of all, there will be REAL page numbers.  No more frustrating searches to get to different parts of a book.

This deal has me thinking it is about time to upgrade…

 

Amazon Kindle Tablet PC Seems Increasingly Likely

Recently the speculation on the potential for a Kindle tablet has gone from considering it a good idea to considering it an inevitability.  All the signs are certainly pointing that way, and it fits in with Amazon’s established business model so far.  The only real question right now is that of what the particulars will be.

Now, we know that Amazon doesn’t really get too into the whole traditional hardware competition mindset too well.  Their only entry so far, as far as I know, has been the Kindle.  While it’s great at what it does, the functionality has always been limited to doing one thing very well rather than adding in all the bells and whistles.  It is safe to assume that the same will be true of any tablet that they bring out.  Affordability and ability to consume media are almost certain to be highlighted over any numerical comparisons of hardware superiority.

As far as software goes, the new Android store and the recent updating of the Kindle for Android software to allow for better tablet PC support via Honeycomb are both indicative of Amazon’s interest in this system.  We’re going to be looking at an Android 3.0 device.  As a result, right out the door the device should have a great selection of apps ready to go, even excluding the Kindle book apps.

One thing that I’m wondering about is whether or not it will be a part of the Kindle line or a new branch of Amazon hardware.  For the most part people have been assuming that it would just be the next generation of the Kindle.  Something along the lines of a Kindle Color to compete directly with the Barnes & Noble Nook Color.  The more I think about this, the less likely it seems.

Amazon is making their money in the Kindle Store, not on the Kindle itself.  Hardware is not what makes this so amazingly profitable for them.  The same will be true of any tablet they might come out with.  By offering their own device with a predetermined source for app purchases, they should be able to lock in that much more in terms of software sales.  The image of the product is likely to reflect this.  Just as the Kindle is advertised as having the best selection of eBooks anywhere, the predicted tablet is likely to be sold as a method to have easy access to any app you could ever need.

When you think of apps, is the first thing that comes to mind the Nook Color?  For me, not really.  While it makes sense at first glance that the smart move would be to capitalize on the Kindle brand in order to jump-start sales, I would say it’s at least as likely that Amazon will try to start off a fresh hardware line without the existing B&N rivalry to anchor this in customers’ minds as a reading device. If they’re going to try to take on the iPad, the best way to approach isn’t with direct comparisons to another product that doesn’t compete on the same level.

Hank Moody Comes to Kindle

God Hates Us AllSo, I was stuck in San Francisco airport: sitting, standing, chilling, staring blankly at my Kindle (trying to look busy). I discovered that my Kindle is full of highly sophisticated literature that I always hope to read. I also discovered that I am completely incapable of reading anything with profound literary meaning and symbolism when I’m stuck in an airport. “Gimmi something brain-numbing” – I thought, as I shook my Kindle. Nothing really fell out from the Kindle because, as we all know, shaking is not exactly the most successful strategy of uploading literature on Kindle.

And then I saw it. I saw “Hank Moody” in the author section. God Hates Us All by Hank Moody! Those who recognize this name perhaps realize how intrigued I felt.

So, I bought it. And yes, I do not think that $11.99 is particularly cheap (oh, wow, and this is the sale price), but I was stuck in the airport desperate for some entertainment – and really, it is very difficult not to be entertained by a book inspired by Californication – the profane TV show full of drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll. How could I abstain from this bundle of joy?

I finished reading God Hates Us All in one sitting. No, it is not really thought-provoking. I did see some people attempting to make this easy-to-read book into something more meaningful by highlighting trivial phrases such as “Don’t let your perceptions of your circumstances limit your possibilities” (p. 54). Seventeen people highlighted “I don’t know what I’m talking about. My brain’s been running low on oxygen from the minute I saw you tonight” (p. 89) – I’m guessing it’s more of a pick-up line to-remember than anything else.

Even though, I’m being purposefully dismissive towards Hank Moody’s creation (I do not want you to have high expectations), the book is enjoyable and entertaining. And it effectively helped me to murder some time. Also, if you are a fan of Californication – come on, Hank Moody wrote it! (wink)

Charles Martin Kindle Books

I just wanted to mention one of my all time favorite authors: Charles Martin.  He has written seven books, all available on the Kindle.  I’ve been reading his books since he just got started.  His books have grown greatly in popularity since then.

He’s been compared to Nicholas Sparks, even he mentioned that once, but his books have a backstory element that Sparks’ books do not have.  My favorites are When Crickets Cry and Chasing Fireflies.

Martin’s latest, The Mountain Between Us is the story of two people who survive a plane crash, and spend time defeating the odds of surviving the brutal forces of nature in the middle of nowhere.  I can only imagine the kind of bond that Ben and Ashley form during this ordeal.  It is a good thing that Ben happens to be an orthopedic surgeon, and can treat some very serious wounds in the process.

I love Martin’s easygoing writing style.  You really feel like you get to know the characters better that way.  I also love how he slowly unwraps the elements of their lives as the stories progress.  I got the pleasure of meeting him when he did a reading of his book, Where the River Ends, in Blowing Rock, NC.  He is very friendly and personable.  That goes a long way when an author actually interacts with their readers.  It makes the readers want to read their books that much more.

Keiki Hendrix

“All of Charles Martin’s book carry a certain unique quality; rich insights into personalities and characteristics, beautiful scenery and landscapes, and a moving and inspiring messages.”

chefbec

“WOW! Charles Martin has done it again! What a story! Have your tissues ready for this one. I loved how you were kept in suspense until the very end when everything was revealed. This book is beautifully written and the story is amazingly constructed to build you to an outstanding ending! A great story of love and devotion.”

 

Does the Ad-Supported Kindle Go Far Enough?

There have been a wide range of responses to the announcement of Amazon’s new ad-supported Kindle release this past week.  For the most part, people seem to approve.  Amazon made a smart move when they decided to have the ads be unobtrusive and potentially personalized.  This leads me to wonder what the future holds as far as advertising subsidized eReading possibilities.

Let’s face it, it’s impossible to get away from ads on a day to day basis.  They’re all over the net, the roads, buses, walls, shipping containers…I could go on.  How much do we really care anymore, though?  The reason that this was such a great move for Amazon is that people are already so used to seeing ads and simply filtering them out without giving it much thought that this small addition won’t have any major effect.  It isn’t as if they were being placed in such a manner as to interfere with immersion while reading, after all.

I wonder how long it will be before we can get books with the same advantage, though?  Obviously, some people have already caught on to the potential and made a business model out of it (WOWIO).  It is demonstratively possible, therefore, to have an unobtrusive advertising presence in a book.  Not really that much different from your average paperback’s large note that it has recently been made into a movie or television show, when you think about it.  I’m really hoping this becomes a trend for the Kindle.

While I don’t support the inclusion of ads mid-text, I think most people would be willing to glance through one or two as they flip to page one of a new book if that meant that the book was cheaper or even free.  This could definitely work as a way to alter the existing Agency Model pricing scheme that makes eBook purchasing an almost comically overpriced experience from time to time.  Give users the option of the normal book for the usual price, but a copy with ads included for 50% off.  How many people will really turn down that opportunity to save money just because ads are obnoxious?

I’m not advocating the WOWIO model, necessarily.  I see this as having potential as a flag in the downloaded file that turns ads on or off on a case by case basis.  This would allow for the updating of advertisements from time to time and avoid the problem of outdated messages.  What would be the point of a sales announcement if you didn’t get around to seeing it until two months after the fact, right?

Still, the Kindle‘s new pricing due to ad inclusion is a huge step in the right direction.  If, as has often been speculated, Amazon is selling their products at or below cost then something needs to be done to drive the prices further down.  I know we’re all really hoping for those rumored free Kindles toward the end of the year, however unlikely the prospect.

How to Productively Criticize High Kindle Book Prices

I’ve noticed no small number of negative reviews going around for Kindle books that publishers insist on pricing above their corresponding hardcover editions. I wholeheartedly approve!  What makes it worth commenting on at the moment, however, are the ones that come from verified customers.  Seriously, how does that make sense?

Let’s think about this for a moment.  When you buy an eBook, you are making a statement.  You are telling publishers that “yes, this eBook is worth at least as much to me as you are asking me to pay for it.”  If it were not, then you would have kept the money.  I can almost understand where somebody who buys an alternate edition of a given book, say a paperback, can justify popping into the reviews to talk about the fact that they would have rather had an affordably priced eBook, but once again it fails to mean anything to a publisher who is already going out of their way to encourage their customers to avoid eBooks and stick to the traditional paper medium.  The publishers simply will not care about your complaints while they can view them as confirmation of the view that readers are willing to cave to the pressures of the model they have forced on the industry.

But obviously you want to read a good book, right?  Otherwise there really wouldn’t be much of a point in having a Kindle to begin with.  If you don’t purchase something to read, you don’t get to do the reading.  Fortunately, the sheer volume of options available, especially now, should work in your favor.  This is a great chance to indulge in a collection of new authors.  I would say there’s an excellent chance that you’ll be able to find something to your taste among the increasingly prominent crowd of self-publishers, if nothing else. Personally, I also find a great deal of excellent expense-free reading material from sites like Manybooks and the Baen Free Library, although I can understand that some people might be hesitant due to their “limited” selections (Not much in the way of current Bestsellers).

Whether you like the idea of altering your reading habits or not is going to be a personal choice.  I tend to view a reason to go through the wider variety of publications as a positive rather than an inconvenience.  The alternative is to accept that when it comes down to it, the publishers have a point and you simply do value grabbing the newest books at the highest prices to the point where they can get away with continuing on the path they have been.  Complaining isn’t going to do much, as far as I can see, if it’s followed by caving in on the issue.

The Kindle offers a practically unlimited selection of eBooks to choose from.  More than any person could hope to read in a lifetime.  And that’s great, of course.  What brought many people around to the eReader alternative was the promise of less expensive reading material that reflects the lower cost of production.  The desire for, or even necessity of, that change is something that I feel should be made clear to the publishing houses, even if it means putting off grabbing a popular new book or heading to the library to read it there.

Why some Kindle Authors Make Millions and Others Make Nothing!

In case you are lazy and would like to get right to the point, you can click on this link and get the video discussed in this post. Otherwise – keep reading, it’s well worth it.

Ok so maybe you’ve seen the articles on Forbes.com, in the NY Times or The Huffington post about how Kindle authors like Amanda Hocking are literally writing their way to millions of dollars in sales right?

And maybe you’ve heard of other authors who are not making millions, but modestly making thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in Amazon Kindle book sales every month right?

And maybe you’ve even noticed that almost all of these people… The million dollar sellers and those selling thousands monthly are unknown authors and in some cases completely new to writing…. Heck even one of Kindle’s biggest stars Amanda, has admitted in interviews that she is not a professional.

So if most of the big sellers are newbies and/or unknowns how have they been able to achieve the amount of success that they have and so quickly?

Well the answer is pretty simple… In fact so simple that I would even venture to say that almost anyone who followed the proper “system” could sell a lot of books…. And I do mean A Lot!

So by now you’ve probably figured out that having the proper system in place has a lot to do with the amount of success that you have with your book(s) and in turn the amount of visibility you get, the amount of sales you make and ultimately the amount of money you make :-)

Now What?

So we now know that when it comes to selling a good amount of your books, luck has nothing to so with it… Nor do you have to be a professional or seasoned author… In fact you don’t even have to any experience with writing, because having the proper system will do wonders for you.

So what should your book selling “system” consist of?

Well to begin with it should allow you to easily be able to tell;

  • What topics sell like mad
  • How to create titles that attract attention and pull readers in like a magnet
  • How to use Amazon to build a list of “Fans” that will happily buy every single title that you release
  • How adding 1 simple graphic to your book’s cover can double or even triple your sales
  • Secret price points that allow you to sell more books than you may have ever thought  possible

And much more…

Yep that’s the beuty of having a perfect system…

But the downside of systems is having to put one together because it can take time if you have to do it all on your own or worse yet, have no idea how…

But something that I’ve seen recently is a video that shows you how 1 guy has put together a nearly fool proof step-by-step system that allows him to make…

$10,000.00 a month selling his ebooks on Amazon.com’s kindle

And just as with some of the examples that we spoke about above, this guy is;

  • Not a professional writer
  • Not a “well known” name
  • Not super smart
  • And in fact he failed English 101 in school twice… Twice!

Yet he is making over $10,000.00 a month selling his material on Kindle.

How does he do it?

Good question, in fact he has been nice enough to put together an entire step-by-step video that shows you his entire system and allows you to copy what he is doing.

This guy even logs into his Kindle account and shows you proof of how much money he is making and how he got to over $15,000.00 in sales in just 6 – 7 months

I couldn’t believe it at first , but his system really works as you”ll see when you go here to watch the video

https://musicbizcenter.infusionsoft.com/go/kcf-bk/kcf-bk/

Enjoy :)

Happy Earth Day!

eaarthI found a selection of Kindle books that feature green topics such as green living and food and diet that are featured just in time for Earth Day on April 22.  It is good to celebrate Earth Day especially with the trends going towards sustainability and environment issues.

Named one of the best books of April, 2010, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben, is an intense look into climate change, and a totally different view of the Earth we’ve always known.

We’ve been hearing how we’re close to the point of no return as far as global warming is concerned, but that there is still time to fix it.  Well, Eaarth says we’ve already passed that point.

AIROLF

“McKibben describes a place so strikingly different from the planet Earth we have always known, that it has to be renamed to “Eaarth.” McKibben’s writing is easy to read and his ideas are clear, but his thesis is overwhelming to any reader: “The earth that we knew–the only earth that we ever knew–is gone.” (pg 25) At times, reading the book is similar to the experience of watching a carwreck – it’s heart-wrenching but you can’t force yourself to look away. ”

After reading the reviews of The Gorgeously Green Diet, it actually makes me want to give it a try.  This book provides easy to read recipes and is written in a style that you can relate to.  Often I pick up “easy” cookbooks only to find that they are still difficult to understand.  This is not the case with Sophie Uliano’s latest cookbook.

“In her relatable, girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone, Uliano pledges that anyone can go green and lean, no matter where they live or what resources they have. Uliano recognizes that dieting and going green are big lifestyle changes and makes it easy for readers to commit to both by allowing them to personalize their plans according to their needs. The book has three diet plans-light green, bright green and deep green- that depend on how much time, travel, and money readers want to commit to going green. The three plans promise the same amount of weight loss, but the darker green the plan is, the greater the commitment the reader makes to reducing waste, going organic and staying carbon neutral. ” – Amazon

Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life is written by Ed Begley, someone who has actually put what he’s written into practice for 30 years.  That adds a lot of credibility to what he has to say.  He provides suggests that go from unplugging unnecessary electronics, to purchasing solar panels.  So, you can choose to make small changes or invest in much longer ones.

Well come to think of it, by owning a Kindle, we’re doing our own part to help save trees and reduce paper…

Publishers Claim Credit For Success of Kindle Editions & Other eBooks

Owing perhaps to the impressive holiday sales figures for the Kindle, Nook, and others at the end of 2010, an announcement from the Association of American Publishers has confirmed that February 2011 saw eBooks outselling every other format of book available.  While this isn’t precisely a surprise given the not too far gone announcement from Amazon that Kindle Editions were their bestselling format, it demonstrates that the trend is ever on the rise.

According to the same announcement, compared to February 2010 the sales figures for this past February have increased by over 200% for eBooks and sales of print books in all formats combined declined by nearly 25% over a similar period. Downloaded audio books also saw a bit of a boost with over 26% growth from the prior year. Everything digital is getting increasingly acceptable to the average consumer, especially the sorts of things that can fit on a Kindle. What is perhaps the most impressive part of this for me is that judging by the tone of the text, publishers are attempting to pass this off as a demonstration of how great they’re doing at providing readers with what they want.  I’m going to have to say that I disagree.

What we’re seeing now is, in some ways, a bit like the move from audio cassettes to compact discs.  Sure it takes a while to catch on, but most people are eventually at least willing to give it a try and very few people find themselves truly disappointed (and to head off complaints, no I am not trying to extend the metaphor to say that paper books will inevitably cease to exist.  We know that’s not likely to happen).  As people adopt the new format, they go back and grab their favorites.  According to the AAP, there is a trend reported from many publishers where a reader will buy the most recent work of an author and then go back to pick up the entire catalog of that author’s work.  Is the logical assumption really that the reader in question has never read one of this author’s books before and was so impressed that they blew a hundred dollars grabbing the rest?  I’d say it’s more likely that these figures reflect fans picking up old favorites.

For an industry that has resisted what seems to be a logical and inevitable progression to the point of imposing arbitrary format-wide pricing schemes aimed at countering popular adoption, it seems a bit hypocritical to be throwing out quotes like “The February results reflect two core facts: people love books and publishers actively serve readers wherever they are” and “publishers are constantly redefining the timeless concept of ‘books.’”  It’s almost amusing to think of how hard it is going to be in coming years to keep things going the way they are in the face of authors taking advantage of the ability to self-publish for things like the Kindle and still manage to get on bestsellers lists.  These figures aren’t a reflection of how well the publishing industry is adapting to serve its customers, they are demonstrative of the increasing momentum of eReaders in spite of the best efforts of the industry to prevent change.  Not so great for them, but amazing for readers.

Amazon is Bringing Their Kindle to the Library

Over the past few months, comments have been made repeatedly about the potential for the Kindle‘s lack of library compatibility being a deal breaker when it came time to make the purchase of your new eReader.  Well, apparently Amazon has been listening to you too.  In a press release this morning, Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) has announced that they have been working with Overdrive to integrate the Kindle into a library lending friendly system and will be rolling out the product of these efforts later this year.

In terms of basic features, there shouldn’t be too many surprises.  Expect all the basic Overdrive Library functionality and book selection, given the interaction between Amazon and Overdrive.  You should even be able to grab all your borrowed books via the WiFi.  What makes this a unique addition to the eBook library lending situation, to the best of my knowledge and aside from the fact that it brings in the largest eReader owner base on the market, is the annotation feature.  Users can expect to be able to annotate, highlight, and generally personalize their reading experience as they always have with any purchased book and, while these alterations will not pass on to the next borrower, all this will be preserved should the book be borrowed again or purchased at any point in the future.

This new feature, if you want to call accessibility of this sort a feature, will be available to every user of the Kindle platform, not just owners of the Kindle eReader.  This means that pretty much anybody who owns a device with a screen should be able to borrow themselves an eBook now, and that reading borrowed eBooks has become practically uncoupled from device concerns.  While I doubt that the end goal of this was to empower libraries as players in the digital marketplace, I would guess that it suddenly got a lot more important for publishers to avoid boycotts like those that HarperCollins has managed to stir up.

For those who might be unfamiliar with the Overdrive book lending system, it is essentially to institutionalized eBook lending what the Kindle is to eBook reading.  Sure there are probably other options, but in general it sets the standard.  I have yet to come across a decent implementation of another type of eBook library software, in fact.  The way it works at present involves downloading a book to your computer as a step in the process, but it sounds like Amazon is planning to do away with that given their mention of WiFi book downloading in conjunction with the service.  Maybe this is what took so long to get working?  Other than that step, I have never been inconvenienced by a borrowed eBook, though the waiting lists can get a bit long at times.  The only question that remains to be answered, for me, is whether or not this extends to downloadable audiobooks.  While I’m aware that these aren’t a big thing at all libraries, it would be great to see that sort of thing be possible for Kindle users. Let’s hope, given how long this has all taken, that every possible option is left open for readers.

Kindle Accessories I’d Like To See

So, you get yourself a Kindle and the first thing to do is usually grab a case for it.  That’s just a matter of preserving your investment.  You spent this much money and might as well drop a few more dollars to make sure it stays durable.  It’s obvious.  But beyond that, there are other considerations.  Do you get the case with the light in it, or a separate book light?  The one in the official Kindle case draws on the battery of the eReader, which can be either good or bad, of course, but it means no extra weight…

Eventually, once the obvious stuff is worked out, you have a Kindle configured and housed as you’d like it and are pretty much likely to leave it at that indefinitely.  Myself, I like to tweak things.  There are a few uses that the Kindle would be fairly great for, if only we had the ability to make them more accessible.  For example:

I’m sitting here writing a blog on an overpowered PC with at least one completely superfluous monitor, if we’re talking about nothing but the demands of the task.  I find it convenient at the moment, but what about on vacation or even on a plane?  The Kindle would be perfect for that sort of thing in that it’s compact, holds an amazing charge, and can handle the basic demands of the task, but the keyboard is hardly convenient for any form of extensive typing, be it blogging or email or whatever else might seem important at the time.  Why not a case with a built-in folding keyboard?

Also, going back to lights for a minute, wouldn’t it be nice to have a LightWedge style book light built into a case for the Kindle 3?  I have seen them for the Sony Reader, and I even saw a pre-release announcement of something similar for the Kindle 2, but I haven’t been able to find anything but clip-on lights for the newest Kindle.  While I know that reading through a piece of acrylic isn’t exactly an enhancement of the reading experience, I find these lights a bit easier on the eyes than many clips and would like to have the option.  So far, I have yet to find anything of the sort besides homemade case modifications.

This is all just a bit random, I’m aware, but I can’t help but feel that at present the potential for the Kindle isn’t being realized as well as it might be.  There are a lot of convenient uses that it could handle.  While admittedly some of them might be better suited for software updates, apps, or, barring those, user developed hacks, it seems like there should be a wider range of options on the hardware side of things.  The sort of things that might expand the niche of the product.  Maybe I’m just a bit of a gadget lover, but end-user device customization has always been one of my favorite parts of owning things like the Kindle and so far I haven’t managed much besides the cosmetic.  You guys have any thoughts on accessories that have yet to be realized?

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

unbrokenUnbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand is an amazing book.  It has been in the Kindle Bestseller list for awhile and is definitely worth the top rankings.

Hillenbrand is the author of Seabiscuit, another bestseller that was made into a movie not too long ago.

Unbroken follows the life of famous 1930′s track star Louie Zamperini.  He ran in the Berlin Olympics, where he shook Hitler’s hand.  That gave me chills.  Later, he joined the United States Air Force on the Pacific theater, and fought against Japan.  Hillenbrand was able to talk with Louie himself, as well as many of the other characters in her book.  So the accounts of the the events that occurred are almost first hand.

Louie’s ability to survive the brutality that was forced upon him is just…unreal.  He not only survives several months out on the ocean surrounded by sharks, but also survives brutal beatings from Japanese guards.  The amusing part was, that many of the guards in the internment camps had nicknames that you can’t help but laugh about.  I guess humor is the only relief in situations like the ones Louie and his fellow soldiers went through.

Reviews are no less than 4 stars:

Ken C

“Louis Zamperini? Who is he? Laura Hillenbrand’s near 500-page reply will answer the question not only once, but for all. He is the California boy who was a kleptomaniac. He is the running prodigy who competed at Hitler’s Berlin Olympics, shook hands with the Fuhrer, and was almost shot by Nazi guards for stealing a Nazi souvenir. He is the American serviceman who entered the Pacific theater, crashed into the sea, and spent a harrowing forty-odd days floating on a disintegrating raft circled by aggressive sharks, scorched by a relentless sun, and gnawed to the bone by an inescapable hunger.”

liat2768

“I read this book in two days flat and I know that, had I had the time, I would have read it in one sitting. This is a book that grips you, draws you in and leaves you feeling a slightly better person for having read it.”

Avid Reader

“Fascinating account of the resilience of man. The hardships and cruelty endured by American prisoners of war was hard to read and hard to believe. The phrase, “Greatest Generation” is no exaggeration.”

I will say, after reading Unbroken in hardback form, getting it on the Kindle is a much smarter choice.  This book is heavy!  But, it is well worth it, and you certainly won’t be disappointed.

 

 

A Hybrid E-Ink and LCD Screen in the Works?

So, one way to stop the e-ink vs. LCD war is to put both of them in one device.  Apparently, Apple (NASDAQ:APPL) has such a device in the works.

This is one of those things I’m going to have to actually see to grasp exactly how this can be done.  Comparing a Kindle e-ink display and an iPhone’s LCD display is like comparing apples to oranges.  They are so different.  They each have different functions and the Kindle is designed just for reading.  Sometimes it is good to escape internet and games, and just read.

From what I understand, the user will be able to switch between the iPhone 4 display and an e-ink display depending on their needs.  So, in theory, you could use the Kindle Application on your iPhone, and it would be more Kindle like than than the current version that is on the iPhone.  If you can use that application, it would still allow you to download and purchase books from the Kindle Store.

So, could this development kill the Kindle if it went into production?  Probably not.  Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) could either make a rival Kindle device, or they can focus on the Kindle software platform and e-book sales.  E-book sales are getting better and better all the time.  Especially with authors writing books exclusively for the e-book platform. Another key factor is cost.  Many people can’t afford an iPad yet.  Even an iPhone costs more than the Kindle does.

One Day Sale on Kindle DX: $299

This morning provided us with a neat deal for anybody interested in a slightly more expansive screen than that available on the usual Kindle.  Today, April 15th, anybody who’s interested can snag themselves a Kindle DX for $80 less than the usual asking price of $379.  Size isn’t everything, as the saying goes, but it’s a decent consideration for this purchase if you’re in a position to take advantage of it.

The advantages are fairly obvious and stem mainly from the larger screen.  It gives you a lot more real estate to work with.  This means the potential for better PDF presentation, which I find essential for any serious academic or technical reading.  It also makes for more convenient reading of books on larger font sizes, since even if the screen refresh rate has gotten to the point of not being an issue it’s still obnoxious to have to flip after every hundred words or so.

The sacrifices that are required for the improved screen are minimal.  Some people will find the weight a little bit much for single handed reading.  It does weight slightly more than twice as much as my Kindle 3, it’s true.  This emphasizes what I consider to be the only major flaw of the device: No buttons on the left side.  You are required to handle all the controls on the right.  Combine those two issues and you get a fair amount of inconvenience.  From personal experience I would say that it goes largely unnoticed pretty fast in the face of the expanded screen, though I notice that some reviews on the site are a bit more vehement about the issue.

Keep in mind when you consider buying this that the current model of the Kindle DX came out slightly before the Kindle 3. As holdovers from an earlier generation of the product line, it still has a 5 direction navigation stick instead of the pad and it lacks WiFi capabilities.  This last is especially a concern if you or the person you are buying for happens to live outside of the US, as the coverage internationally is less than ideal, by all accounts.

Overall, however, it’s a great product for reading.  I’ve been using mine since a few weeks after it was released and have absolutely no complaints.  Due to the size, it tends to get brought out mainly when reading a brand new book, for that fresh hardcover feeling, or when I need to look at something larger like a textbook or diagram.  The DX handles pretty much everything I’ve thrown at it without a problem.  The overall 4-star review status would tend to confirm my personal assessment, with the majority of negative reviews seemingly concentrating on problems with Amazon’s customer service or a now-resolved hardware problem when using the leather case being sold as an accessory.

As always, let me emphasize:  This is not a tablet PC.  I know it’s the same size as one, and it has a big screen, but this is a device for reading.  It may be significantly more expensive than the Kindle 3, but it’s still a Kindle.  Do not buy the Kindle DX expecting anything but a great way to read your books.

Is Apple About To Get Serious About Kindle vs iPad?

There’s been talk of the potential for Kindle vs iPad conflict since months before the latter device was ever actually unleashed on the public.  While I do believe that there was some degree of overlap between them for certain customers, the larger trend appears to have involved just grabbing both, if you’re going to get an iPad anyway.  The Kindle is almost universally held to be the superior eReader, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the versatility of the iPad in any other way.  Apparently Apple may have decided that this situation is less than satisfactory?

Recent reports of an Apple patent just recently made public have been causing a great deal of speculation about the future of this conflict.  The proposed display would contain a standard(LCD or OLED) video layer underneath a form of electronic paper(similar to the Kindle’s E Ink display), with a touch interface on top.  Perhaps the most interesting part of the proposition is that since the layers would be independent of each other and software controlled, it would be possible to operate both in tandem, in theory, to create an environment extremely conducive to web browsing and video-enhanced eBook reading without sacrificing the readability of the text itself.  Thinking this through, however, I’m left wondering if it really addresses the shortcomings of the existing Apple tablet offerings with regard to reading.

I’m going to make the assumption that the electronic paper display that is noted in the patent’s design is somehow transparent when not in use.  I’m sure that the technology for that is available, I was just still under the impression that it was not really ready yet.  This would give the proposed design an “advantage” that many Kindle naysayers have been looking for for a long time:  An E Ink-like screen with a back light.  Of course, this also removes a major component of the readability improvement that is enjoyed with current eReaders.  Even assuming that you could completely turn off the back light any time you wanted to, and I would definitely assume that this is an intended feature that nobody would think of leaving out, you would be left with text hovering on a transparent plane over a recessed background.  Intuitively this seems awkward somehow.

My guess would be that this is meant more as a power-saving measure on potential future tablets than as a serious delving into eReading as a direct Kindle competitor.  Think about an iPad with a week’s worth of battery life now that the screen doesn’t need to refresh large sections regularly unless the user demands it.  That would be an impressive selling point.  This would also address, though to what degree would depend on proper implementation, the complaints of readability in direct sunlight that the iPad has met with.

It remains to be seen what will actually happen, of course, and I’ve only touched on a handful of possibilities.  For all I know, this could end up being an offshoot of the iPhone, a competitor for the Nook Color, or the greatest thing ever to happen to the eReading world.  A patent just isn’t enough to go off of if you want definitive.  Any move away from standard LCDs in portable devices with batteries is always going to get the benefit of the doubt from me, though.

New $114 Ad-Supported Kindle Announced!

Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) has just announced the newest addition to its highly successful Kindle line… kinda!  Visitors finding themselves at Amazon.com today will be seeing an announcement for a new “Kindle(with Special Offers)” being sold at a mere $114.  While it isn’t a hardware upgrade, anything to bring down the price on the Kindle is only going to help get it out there at this point.

What we’ve got is essentially just the existing Kindle WiFi that we all know and love already.  Instead of the standard “enjoyable” screen savers of author portraits and “kindle” related facts, it will display current advertisements and deals available to users.  While there will also be a small ad box at the bottom of the home screen, it is fairly unobtrusive and will not at any time appear during the act of reading.  Overall, definitely sounding like it’s worth the $25 savings so far.  Current examples being highlighted by the pre-order site include “$10 for $20 Amazon.com Gift Card” and “$1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store (choose from over 1 million albums)”.

In order to make these ads less painful for people to swallow, and presumably more effective in reaching a target audience at the same time, Amazon will be opening up a service called AdMash.  AdMash will allow Kindle users to preview potential Kindle advertisements and vote on which ones they would like to see.  Those that make it through this user selection process will enter into the pool and have a chance to end up on your eReader.  The plan at present is to allow users to select certain categories that they would be more or less interested in seeing on a daily basis and weighting the displayed ads based on these expressed personal preferences.

If all goes well, for example, a user will be able to decide they really love beaches and see a lot of ads displayed across beach backgrounds.  While still theoretical at this point since nothing has gone live, I can’t really imagine that there will be any shortage of interested advertisers(depending on the pricing scheme of course, since this is a fairly unproven ad medium), so there should be room for variety.  I would even imagine that at least some people, specifically thinking about coupon enthusiasts, will be more interested in the potential for sale notifications and coupons than the existing screen savers anyway.

The implementation remains to be seen, and I’m interested in seeing how a couple things are resolves.  How does Amazon plan to guarantee that users access the Kindle’s WiFi often enough to keep the ads cycling, for example?  Also, is this planned as an international project, or will the current US-only offer stand alone?  Mostly, though, I’m curious how they will address the software issues, especially hacking.  Anybody familiar with this site knows that you’ll find the occasional way to tweak your Kindle.  This is something I think many of us take advantage from time to time.  How, then, will the ads mesh with things like the popular Kindle Screensaver Hack that users developed to get around the repetitive author portraits?  Also, assuming they have managed to find an effective way, will this mean a software update that will impair the user’s ability to play with these sorts of tweaks?  Lots of questions without answers as of yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long before we know more.

Kindle 3 Lighted Covers

I went camping this past weekend, and wanted to take my Kindle, but camping is pretty rough on technology.  However, there is a solution for that dilemma.

Kindle Lighted Covers are really tough and made of leather, which is just right for the outdoors.  The best part?  It also includes a built in light.  You have a pretty good variety of colors to choose from as well.  I love the blue and lime green.  The light automatically turns on when it is pull out, and turns off when you tuck it back into its place in the case.  The light gets its power from the Kindle itself via the Kindle Lighted Cover’s high tech hinge system.

Reviews overall are great, most are 4 stars and above.

Roxanne Mchenry

“Pluses: Built in light that slips securely out of the way, no batteries to replace, better clips/fit than past covers that connect to Kindle, adequate to light the entire screen, no looking for a booklight, no clipping a booklight to my Kindle and scratching or damaging it, the book light LEDs point down towards the screen, so no bright lights in your eyes.

Minuses: The cover’s weight doubles the weight of the Kindle 3 in your hand, the book light stays in one corner and doesn’t move around the Kindle, uses more Kindle battery life (it’s powered by the Kindle 3 — and I noticed a definite drain on the battery from using the light)”

Elizabeth

“I had debated about purchasing this item because of the cost which seemed excessive in comparison to the cost of buying a Kindle. However, on the recommendation of a friend, I decided to purchase a cover. The range of colours available was good particularly if the Kindle is accidentally dropped onto a dark surface eg interior of planes. I originally purchased an e-reader as it is such a convenient way of carrying a number of books when I’m travelling on long flights.”

So, unfortunately, the Kindle Lighted Cover only works for the Kindle 3.  But, I think it is a worthwhile investment considering that you would be getting both a light and a cover, without the added cost of purchasing batteries.

 

 

Celebrate Monopoly Day with Monopoly for Kindle.

monopolyIn honor of Global Monopoly Day, there is a limited time discount offer going on now for the Kindle edition of Monopoly.  The game goes for 99 cents, and the sale ends on April 10th.

Monopoly for the Kindle includes most of the features of the well loved board game.  You can pass n’play with up to 3 other players.  Choose from 3 difficulty levels: easy, medium, and hard.

A. Taylor

“I wanted to hurry and write a review as I know a lot of people are considering purchasing this since the price is temporarily 50% off. I LOVE Monopoly so figured it was a safe bet for me. When you first start it seems a little strange until you get used to the flow of the game, but once you get past that, it is very simple to play. The developer did a nice job of simplifying the controls so that the game moves quickly. I’ve been playing it for about an hour straight since purchasing it, and really enjoy it so far. As of now, no freeze ups or problems. Great little cheap game — so far I highly recommend it. It is worth the full price easily, but grab it while it’s on sale!”

Suzanne F. Parrott

“I like that you can play with multiple people or against the computer. It even keeps track of stats (only if you and the computer are playing (according to the help)). There are three levels of play, Easy, Medium and Hard. You set this at the set up of the game by moving down to the AI player and clicking right or left. This allows you to add another human player, none, or the three levels of AI play.

You do have to hit the Controller after every move, even the AI. It gets tiresome; I have high hopes of the game improving over time.”

One thing that I’m interested in, is the colors.  One the regular Monopoly board game, the properties are denoted with colors.  I didn’t see much on how the Kindle has worked around this, but I’m sure a Kindle Color would be a great fit for this game, if there is one in the works for the future.

So have fun escaping jail and don’t forget to collect $200 when passing “Go”!

 

Kindle vs Nostalgia: Why Books Aren’t Harmed By eBooks

As somebody who both loves having a Kindle and who is proud of his fairly extensive physical library, it can be infuriating to hear people talk about their perception that eReaders stand in opposition to books.  I will certainly acknowledge that there is a completely different tactile experience that you get when reading a printed book.  I’m not even going to try to make the claim that it isn’t superior to that of the eReader, since that’s obviously a matter of personal preference rather than objective evaluation.  What I promote, however, is the idea that while it may be important in some cases, as a general rule the medium through which a text comes to you should always be secondary to the text itself.

When I buy a book, speaking solely for myself, I buy it because I want something to read.  When there’s something I particularly like, or when there’s an edition that adds something that can’t be found elsewhere, I grab a copy for the bookshelf.  This keeps it available, visible, easily referenced, and has a certain aesthetically pleasing effect.  In no situation that I can think of, however, would I grab a book that I have no interest in reading.  What would be the point?  Now, assuming you’re still with me to this point, it only stands to reason that eReaders like the Kindle make a book-lover’s life a little easier.

Even if you leave aside the issue of bulk and transportation when it comes to a paper book, there’s a big advantage to having books available electronically.  Availability.  An eBook never runs out at the local store, never goes out of print, and theoretically will never wear out.  While there is a certain nostalgia in picking up a well-loved old book that is just coming apart at the seams, I’d rather than a copy that is as readable the tenth time as it was the first.  And if I want to go back and read the author’s earlier works because I liked it so much, I don’t want to have to worry about the book being out of print or on weeks of back-order at the local book store.  In either of those cases, I’d be more likely to put the idea of reading what I want aside because it would be more hassle than enjoyment.  Thanks to the Kindle, no worries.

It should go without saying that this only serves to enhance the existing system rather than detract from it.  There will always be situations where you want a paper copy, whether it is to fill a book shelf, doodle in the margins, run a highlighter over, or what have you.  In the end, however, it’s better to have the text available.  That is the primary concern on which everything else rests, and the service that the Kindle provides.  One way or another, if an eBook has existed then it is highly unlikely that it will fail to be available should you need it.  This cannot be a bad thing, when what you truly care about is experiencing the text of a book.

How Much Value Do Kindle Singles Bring to the Table?

Kindle Singles have been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  They occupy a strange space in the eBook marketplace.  While there’s obviously a place for good short fiction in any library, perhaps even more so now that Kindles make it so simple to index large collections, we run into issues of perceived value in book purchasing.  So I guess the question is that of what role this category fills going forward.

Theoretically, this is an ideal place to open up a set of texts that your average reader might not have had access to previously.  Not many things make it to printing in the 5,000 to 30,000 word range, traditionally, unless they happen to make it into an anthology of some sort.  One problem that I’m seeing, however, is that these less extensive works have a bit of trouble edging into the field of view of your average eBook reader.

You’ve got thousands of freebies on the one side, including hundreds of the best books ever written historically and at least as many new writers trying to break into the marketplace by offering at least first volumes without charge, and on the other there are successful authors making amazing work and selling it for anywhere from $0.99 – $2.99 through Amazon.  We all live in a world where you have to get the most for your money.  Now, clearly it is hard to quantify the value of a book. There are far too many variables to narrow it down in any way and the value for one person might well be completely different from that for another.  What do we have to compare with?  The number of stars in a review and the number of pages in the text are basically the only applicable quantities.  The question about the applicability of ratings is best left for another time.  The inherent subjectivity and bias in the existing system have come up before and will again. Page numbers are a matter of real concern though.

Objectively, I know that good writing can be found in any number of styles and lengths.  There’s no reason that $2 spent on a Kindle Single wouldn’t be better spent than on a similarly well reviewed Kindle Edition from any other category in the store.  There’s this little voice in the back of my head when I think about it, however, that reminds me that even if it’s great, the book will be over far too soon.  As such, I’m pushed back toward traditional length works.  Definitely a dilemma.

For the moment, Kindle Singles are focused on Journalism, Biography, and various other things that can best be presented in their relative completeness without using too many words.  There’s so much potential in the short fiction market though.  I just have no idea how to bring it to the table in a competitive way when larger-scale works are going so cheaply.  Anybody have a decent take on this that they’ve seen somewhere or come up with on their own?  Even aware as I am of the problems of equating quantity with quality, this is something I’m having trouble wrapping my head around.

Kindle Book Recommendations: Romance

The theme of the day is Romance books for the Kindle!  Specifically, romance books revolving around crazy supernatural types of things.  I understand that’s the big thing these days, after all, and I had to narrow it down somewhere.  Can you imagine trying to pick three unique Harlequin Romances to throw up?  Anyway, being fairly new to the genre I’ve gone with a couple of what I understand are fairly big names. This was a surprisingly fun list to go through, though, and I heartily recommend a browse even to people who aren’t normally wild about this particular theme in their reading.  I’m leaving out Hocking on purpose, since she seems to fit better into a niche for younger readers.

Halfway to the Grave – Jeaniene Frost

Catherine Crawfield has very simple ambitions in life: working hard in her grandparents’ cherry orchard, trying to keep her mother from diving into the bottle one more time, and trying to kill the undead monster that fathered her. This is the first book in a series that seems more than a little clichéd at first, but build up enough momentum as the plot and relationships develop to be worth sticking it out for.

While I can’t say anything about the later books in the series, you can tell that there’s potential and the writing is definitely good enough to make it tempting to keep on going with it.  If nothing else, this doesn’t seem like something that’s heading downhill.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

Shadow Game – Christine Feehan

When Dr. Whitney, the scientist in charge of the experiment he volunteered for, goes missing, Captain Ryland Miller finds himself in a high security mansion with Lily Whitney where he begins to think that maybe the psychic powers brought on by this experiment aren’t his only concern.

The plot is thin.  There’s no denying that.  The flamboyant characterizations serve as a decent way to offset that, though. The real redeeming aspect, for me at least, was the amazing sense that the author knows exactly how far-fetched the scenarios she has come up with really are and is choosing to go with it anyway.  There are some real stretches and no small number of amazingly overextended metaphors.  This was a blast for me, if perhaps not in the same way that I would imagine some fans would prefer for it to have been.  Not at all an intended insult to the author.  This was pure fun if you can avoid taking it too seriously.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

Guilty Pleasures – Laurell K. Hamilton

It’s my understanding that there’s some controversy over this author.  Looking through the list of her works, it definitely seems she’s gone a bit downhill over the years.  That said, she apparently started out well.  This one is the first book in an ongoing series set in what is now an almost cliched world of human/supernatural coexistence.  Looking back, it seems to me that she got in on that early enough that it’s excusable.

The writing is strong, the plot is fairly compelling, and the characters are believable if not necessarily deep.  What surprised me here was the lack of emphasis on graphic scenes, given what I’d heard about the series.  Overall, definitely something I would recommend even to those who aren’t romance fans.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

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With this one, I’ve come to the end of my easily categorizable list of recommendations from readers.  Feel free to send along some more to spread the word to fellow Kindle book lovers by emailing me!