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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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September 2016
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OverDrive Gets a Huge Membership Boost after Launching Kindle Library Lending

The Kindle Library Lending service launched in the fall of 2011 started with 11.000 libraries.  The number has grown to about 15,000 libraries and counting in the US, and 18,000 worldwide.  This new service offered via a partnership between Amazon and OverDrive has been very instrumental in facilitating this big jump in membership. more

Kindle Library Lending is available to anyone who has an e-ink Kindle, Kindle Fire, or Kindle reading app.  The books can be downloaded via Wi-Fi or USB.  Loan periods vary by library.

So it looks like a win win situation for both parties.  Customers who want to keep a book can purchase them on Amazon.  Amazon has the broad customer base and selection of books to bring to the table.  I do hope that they can eliminate some of the steps to downloading a book.  In some cases it takes a lot of digging to even find the e-book collection on the library’s website.

OverDrive is the repository that is used for holding digital book collections.  This includes both e-books and audiobooks.  The e-book collections are available on the Kindle, Nook, and any other e-reader that supports ePub format.  E-books can also be accessed on the computer.  If the service is offered at your local library, a link to it should be fairly prominent on the library’s website.

Most states have a digital library account with OverDrive.  North Carolina’s is called the NC Digital Library.  From there, select libraries subscribe to the account and offer e-books.  If your library doesn’t currently offer them, keep checking back.  More libraries are constantly being added to the service.  I see articles about individual libraries launching e-book lending all the time.

Between Kindle Library Lending from my local library and the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, I’ve been able to find a lot of good reading material for free.  There are also a lot of reduced priced Kindle books available as well.  Each month features 100 Kindle Books under $3.99.  The major bestsellers aren’t available on either yet unfortunately, but they do offer a chance to explore new authors and catch up on older bestsellers.

 

Audio & The Kindle Fire: Win Some, Lose Some

The Kindle Fire does a lot of things really well.  From the streaming video library to its many apps, there’s always something to do.  Despite all the effort at polish though, the majority of the sound playback abilities seem pretty much tacked on.  Admittedly this is not meant to be a portable MP3 player, as might be assumed based on the weight and slightly less than pocket compatible size.  There are a few things that could have been done to bring the level of functionality up a bit.  While it isn’t recommended that anybody pick up a Kindle Fire just for the auditory stimulation under most circumstances, it is definitely nice to know what the tablet is capable of to get the most out of your new toy.

Music

The obvious sound function is listening to music.  The integration for this is easily as clean as that offered for Instant Video titles, allowing users to browse by album, artist, or song as well as produce, edit, or start playlists.  Downloading albums to local storage is simple enough, but streaming from the Amazon Cloud Player is excellent and the extra 5GB of storage for user uploads that were not purchased through Amazon will allow for a lot of music even if you don’t have any urge to pay for extra space.  The store isn’t obtrusive, but it does let you look up albums based on the usual factors or look up other albums by artists already in your collection with the touch of a button.

Audiobooks

In most cases this will work exactly the same as Music playback, assuming you’re not using Audible.  If you are using Audible, things don’t get much different.  The Audible app comes pre-installed with every Kindle Fire.  Just pop over to the App page and you’ve got access to everything you own so far.  The internal store seems to be just a mobile skin over their website, but it does the job.  My only complaint is that if your audiobook is from Audible you can’t stream it.  The need to download can be a pain, given the size of some books and the Fire’s limited storage space.

Read to Me

Unlike every previous Kindle release with any form of audio output, this feature is missing.  Amazon hasn’t made any real comment on this so far, and it seems doubtful that they will.  Whether it’s an effort to push Audible to the front of things or a desire to break away from this feature, there is no indication whatsoever that this will change.  Annoying, but possibly predictable.

Playback

The most important concern in all these cases is probably how it will sound.  Sadly, this is where things come up short the most.  The Kindle Fire has stereo speakers built in, but they are about as mediocre as might be expected.  The headphone jack works just fine, and will probably be great for watching movies, but doesn’t seem as useful as it might be given the tablet’s lack of portability compared to an average MP3 player.  There also isn’t any way to output high quality audio to a stereo system, which would have been nice, or to hook up a bluetooth headset.  Overall, just good enough without impressing in any way.

Recommended Uses

The usefulness here will come from audiobooks and listening to music while reading.  Chances are good by now that you have a better, more portable MP3 player, so it would be silly to try to turn this into one unless you really need the streaming option.  The audio quality on the speakers is fine for listening to books while you do something out, and just about anything will do for listening to music while reading a book.  These are, at best, perks for Kindle Fire owners, but it’s the little things that add up.

Audible Audiobooks for Kindle Goes Wireless

Most everybody has probably at least heard of Audible at this point.  Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) has done a good job of promoting their services both as a general thing and in connection with the Kindle.  Now, to make things even easier for fans of Kindle audio books, users should find themselves able to download their new acquisitions directly over the WiFi connection just like a normal book purchase.  It’s still not available via the 3G, but that should come as little surprise given the size of audio books compared to your average Kindle data transfer.  It doesn’t seem likely Amazon would want to foot the bill for doing that via WhisperNet any time soon, really.

This is a nice change.  While it was hardly a major problem to download and transfer your Audible purchases to the Kindle via the computer, anything that streamlines the process has to be considered an advantage.  Not only does this save users the potential hassle of arranging temporary storage space and such, it means improved mobility for those of us who like the audio book option on occasion.  Not much is more annoying than finding yourself without a book to listen to when you’re not in a position to read but still want to enjoy a book.

For anybody who might be unfamiliar with the Audible service, here’s the gist of how it works.  You can sign up for either a monthly or yearly membership.  Each month or year, you will be charged a set rate and given “credits” as a result.  The basic membership option, for example, will give you one credit every month as your payment is received.  These credits can then be redeemed for the book of your choice.  Not much more to it.  I haven’t run into any interesting books that required more than one credit, but the site does assure users that this is something to be aware of.

If you want to grab Audible books via the Kindle itself, you can link your new Audible account directly to your Amazon account and have all of your existing One-Click Purchasing options simply work.  This is done by signing in through the Audible.com site.  It’s simple.  After you’re linked in, you can head to the Audible section of the Kindle store using your Kindle and look around.  Members can either use their credits at checkout or, if you’re out of them or would rather not use them for whatever option, pay using your usual method.

It’s a bit more expensive per title if you want to purchase these audio books with cash rather than using the credit system, but there are options for multiple credits per month or, as mentioned earlier, a yearly plan that gives you 12 credits all at once and is renewable at any time.  Just in case you get hooked and can listen to more than one or two per month.

At the moment, there are over 50,000 titles available through this service and the basic plan is going for only $7.49 for the first three months.  I recommend giving it a try if you have any interest whatsoever.  The pricing is reasonable and you’ll definitely notice a major difference over the Text-to-Speech option.  There’s even a 30-Day free trial that provides 2 free audio books!

Audible Incentives

There are a lot of good reasons to pick up a Kindle.  It’s neat to read, occasionally very useful for its ability to be a portable internet device, and it saves on effort and potential injury when you compare it to the hundreds or thousands of paperbacks you might otherwise have to carry down a flight of stairs on moving day.  One of the less talked-about uses, however, is as a vessel for audiobooks.

Having worked with the Kindle while helping out students with learning disorders, I can tell you that this is a really useful feature.  It’s also proven helpful with an elderly relative of mine who sometimes has trouble even with the device’s largest font sizes, but who still really loves her books.  The Text-to-speech feature isn’t bad, though it can trip over some words in odd ways sometimes.  I personally prefer to go with actual narrated book readings.  It adds something that, if you’re forced or inclined to be listening to a book rather than reading it yourself in the first place, helps significantly with personal immersion.

Since I’m sure there are those of you out there who agree with me, as there are certainly those who find my position ridiculous, I figured it was worth pointing out the current incentive for people still on the fence about the usefulness of eReaders.  For the moment, Amazon is offering a discount of $100 off their device if you sign up for a year of Audible.com membership.  I don’t really know how limited a time this offer is, but I’d guess not terribly.  It’s been around a while.  I personally consider it a worthwhile investment if you’re interested in audiobooks.  Audible provides good prices on good readings of good books.  What more can you ask, really?  Chances are that if you’ve read this far into the post, you’re interested in audiobooks anyway.  Might as well get a discount on your Kindle and a new source for your reading all at once, right?

Amazon would selectively disable Text-To-Speech

Macworld reports that Amazon would allow copyright holders to disable text-to-speech feature which was introduced in 2nd generation Kindle. This seems to be part of the concession with the Authors Guild. Earlier this month Authors Guild accused Amazon that this feature infringes copyright and undermines the market for audio books. In it’s statement Amazon stated that the text-to-speech feature is legal, because no copy is made, no derivative work is created and no performance is given.

Well.. this seems to settle it. In my personal opinion text-to-speech was no threat to audio books because although much better than most voice synthesis systems I’ve experienced so far it still falls way short of professionally read audiobooks. It is also as much copyright infringement as me reading bed time stories to my daughter… But that’s just my personal opinion. It’s amazing what a law suit threat can do in a modern corporate world.

I just hope that few copyright holders would actually choose to exercise this ability to opt-out because this feature actually comes quite handy on long commutes when I don’t have any audiobook to listen to.