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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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Amazon Brings Harry Potter to Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

After years of waiting and fan requests, J.K. Rowling has finally got her Pottermore site running well and offering eBook versions the Harry Potter series to owners of Kindles, Nooks, and more.  She accomplished this in such a way that even Amazon, the bane of publishers and booksellers everywhere if you believe the news, was persuaded to redirect all interested buyers away from their main site and into Pottermore.  This makes it even more surprising for Amazon to announce the recent inclusion of the Harry Potter series in its controversial Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Those with access to the lending service will be able to select from the whole seven book series in English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish starting next month, thanks to an exclusive agreement with Pottermore.  This means that anybody with an Amazon Prime account and a Kindle device can check out one installment of the series every month.  If you are planning to read through these books again anyway and don’t necessarily need to own new copies in a digital format, this means about $56 in savings that could offset the cost of a new Kindle eReader or Amazon Prime annual membership significantly.

No details were released as to the nature of the exclusivity that Amazon mentioned in their press release.  Seeing as the Harry Potter series is already available in libraries across the country and has been since March, it is unlikely this will be exclusivity with regard to digital borrowing.  More likely, Amazon has an arrangement to be either the only purely digital lending service to carry the books or they have arranged unlimited distribution rights for the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library rather than a per-copy fee.  The only major impact this will have for users of Amazon’s library is that it will never have waiting lists.  Either way this will likely be more inconvenient for potential competition down the line than it is right now when the Lending Library is essentially the only one of its kind.

The usual Kindle Owners’ Lending Library rules apply to Harry Potter.  You get one book per month and the most.  You only get to borrow one book at a time.  There are no late fees.  To participate you must be both a Prime member and a Kindle Owner; the Kindle Apps do not qualify.  While reading, any notes, highlights, bookmarks, tags, or other personal interactions with the book will be saved via Whispernet in the hopes that you eventually decide you need to own the book.  Should you buy a copy, or borrow the same book a second time in the future, it will already have access to all of the marks you made in your library book.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this arrangement, the Harry Potter series will become available on June 19th.  Assuming you meet the requirements for Lending Library usage, you will be able to get your free rental then regardless of the level of popularity it enjoys on launch.  If you don’t yet qualify but are in the market for a tablet, the Kindle Fire comes with a convenient month of Amazon Prime membership and thereby takes care of both sides of the qualification at the same time.  Something worth looking into.

Release of Harry Potter for Kindle Magically Removes Buy Buttons From Kindle Store

Now that J.K. Rowling’s last major addition to the Harry Potter experience, the Pottermore site, is about to go live, people are starting to get excited about the series all over again.  The Pottermore Beta is ongoing, but things have advanced to the point where the eBooks are finally available and launch is expected some time in April.  Kindle owners can now pick up the series right through the Kindle Store’s product listing, or by going directly to the Pottermore shop.

Oddly enough, the way Rowling has insisted on keeping control of her work entirely in the hands of her own site has caused Amazon some issues already.  They have clearly made an effort to accommodate in order to get Kindle customers easy access to the collection, to the point of linking potential customers off-site to the Pottermore store, but launch did not go as smoothly as anticipated.  For the first several hours after Harry Potter came to the Kindle, any number of popular selections were completely unavailable for purchase.

Anybody looking to get their own copy of the newer children’s book series, The Hunger Games, on Tuesday morning was presented with a large green button claiming that “This title is not available for customers from: United States” where the Buy button would normally have been.  Presumably this only affected US readers, but I was unable to confirm either way before the problem was resolved early that afternoon.

There is always some chance of error when attempting to integrate services between different major projects like this.  That is especially true in the case of something as complex as Amazon.com and the Kindle Store.  It is strange to think of Amazon having trouble with anything as trivial as accommodating the number of Harry Potter fans who wanted to read their favorite books on the Kindle for the first time, but sometimes the problem is a bit more complex than dealing with heavy loads.

For the future, this has a few implications.  If more major authors follow in Rowling’s footsteps, which seems unlikely but will always be an option, the staff at Amazon now have slightly more experience with integration and a good idea of some of the likely bugs that go along with it.  This means that such business relationships will almost certainly go a bit more smoothly.

It also might emphasize for people how important it is to always have multiple sales avenues.  While Amazon’s service is second to none when it comes to self-publishers and readers, there is always a chance for error when dealing with a single source.  Some authors choose, quite profitably, to go with the KDP Select option and increase their earnings through book lending.  For those who aren’t going that way, it might be useful to maintain a secondary personal store just in case a glitch like this occurs.

There are a lot of Kindle owners out there, many of whom would be willing to check author sites if the Kindle Store was offline.  A lost sale is a lost sale, even if you’re talking about just a few hours of outage.

Harry Potter FInally Arrives on the Kindle

J.K. Rowling’s hit Harry Potter series finally became available on the Kindle on March 27th.  I admit, this announcement does sound a  bit anticlimactic since all of the books and movies have been released already.

For those who are not familiar with the actual plot, it features a boy wizard named Harry who must defeat the Dark Lord, otherwise known as Lord Voldemort.  The seven books in the series take readers through many adventures that result in both sad and happy endings.

I’m not usually one to read fantasy, but this series sucked me in along with most of the rest of the world.  I think the endearing characteristic of these books was that despite the supernatural element to the story, the characters were very human.  The issues that Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione faced were not all that much different than our own.  Relationships, doing well in school, death, rejection, and more were very evident throughout the series.

The movies overall did a good job at capturing the magic of the books.  I think the final one, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was my favorite book and movie.  Well, part 2 of the movie that is.  It is heartbreaking, but it ties everything up nicely.

Future Harry Potter readers will have it easy because the Kindle weighs next to nothing compared to the print editions.  I remember when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out.  It is the thickest book in the series, and the ones to follower were not all that much thinner.  Especially considering that most Harry Potter fans will sit and read the book for hours on end.  It always was such a let down when the book ended.

I didn’t get on the Harry Potter bandwagon until after the fourth book was published, but I fondly remember eagerly waiting for the new ones to arrive.  Now Rowling has finally joined the growing digital book world, and her beloved Harry Potter will be enjoyed by readers of all ages for many years to come.

 

Pottermore Brings Books To Kindle, But Leaves Fans Open To Scams

As most of you will almost certainly be aware by now, the ever popular Harry Potter series is on its way to the Kindle.  The author, J.K. Rowling, is keeping control over the distribution of the books by attaching her sales platform to the Pottermore companion web site that will be opening this coming October.  While the combination of extra content and fan loyalty will certainly make the site and eBook sales even more of a success than we expect, in the meantime the anticipation building around the site has left over-zealous fans open to scams built around the pre-release proceedings.

You see, a lucky few have managed to secure invitations to experience the Pottermore site well ahead of time.  There was a contest of sorts that allowed the truly interested to get their names in, but it was arranged in such a way as to technically allow somebody to get multiple invites.  This, of course, opens to door to eBay sales even if they are technically against the site’s Terms & Conditions.  Sadly as we all know by now, I hope, where there are electronic invitation sales, there are scams.

Harry Potter fans hoping to get in have been singled out for everything from hundred dollar fake early access accounts to total identity theft from some fairly convincing dummy sites asking people for far too much information in order to gain entry.  Pottermore admins have, naturally, warned people against falling for these scams and have pointed out that even if people do manage to find a legitimate account transfer they will still be banned for breaking the rules, but when people are trying this desperately to get around existing restrictions and rules there is little chance of such advise from the people creating the barriers being heeded.

If you are one of the millions looking forward to the Pottermore site, whether for access to Kindle versions of the books or to enjoy the content, your best bet is to just wait it out.  The only worthwhile avenues at this point are the official ones, so if you don’t see what seems to be your way in written about on the Pottermore placeholder like ‘The Magical Quill’ contest has been then you are inviting trouble by pursuing them.

When the site does open up, Pottermore will be completely free to the public.  Users will be able to access it in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, with more options coming within the year.  There will be over 18,000 words of new material for you to read through, a shop to purchase things like eBooks from, a number of simple games that go along with events in the books, and a generally social experience through which to share your enjoyment of the Harry Potter series.

There is a lot there to get excited about, and if you are a big enough fan to be interested in paying large amounts of money just to get into a soon-to-be-free site then you’re probably very excited indeed, but wait it out.  Rowling, Harry Potter, and the Pottermore site will all come together in just a couple more months.  No book is important enough to risk identity theft or large sums of wasted money.

Yes, Harry Potter Is Coming To The Kindle

In recent blogs and reports, a rumor has sprung up that the Harry Potter series being sold through the author’s soon to be opened ‘Pottermore” site will not include direct Kindle compatibility.  As should probably be fairly obvious, this is quite definitely not true.  The popularity of the rumor was such that Amazon even came forward and announced that the popular children’s books will find their way over.

The origin of the whole ruckus seems to have been an article about the Pottermore site teaming up with Google Books.  Probably just a matter of hopeful thinking on Google fans, I would imagine.  The post mentions efforts being made to integrate Pottermore and Google Books, including an agreement wherein Google Checkout is the preferred third party payment platform for the new site.  The phrasing is very positive for Google, which is to be expected on the official Google Books blog.  The only definite claims we have, however, are that there will be sufficient integration to allow buyers to push their new Harry Potter books out into your Google Books “library in the cloud” and that Google Checkout will be available.  No exclusivity is implied, whether it be in terms of eBook platform, payment platform, or anything else.

One of the more interesting spinoffs from that somewhat overblown topic is the idea that the Harry Potter series will in some way be used to force Amazon into adding EPUB compatibility for the Kindle line.  While there has been no official word on this, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there’s not a chance it will happen.  For one, Rowling is maintaining complete control over her products and has not, to the best of my knowledge, ever expressed a strong inclination to advocate for her favorite file format.  Why would she?  Also, it would make little sense to alienate Amazon in any way give that they currently have the largest customer base in the eReading world.  Given that the Kindle can already read DRM-free MobiPocket eBooks, there is no reason that I can think of for the Pottermore site to try to force the EPUB issue.  What business would want to lose money by failing to spend a minute or less converting a file from one format to another?

When October rolls around, I would anticipate that it will be as easy for a Kindle user to get their new Harry Potter stuff as it will be for anybody else, even if Amazon is being fairly quiet about their integration efforts right now.  The new eBooks should be available in every format still used today, and quite possibly some truly obsolete ones.  Since there will be no DRM included in the files, even if your favorite is not represented there are always programs like Calibre.  Let’s face it, though, unless you are still using the Sony BBeB out of personal preference or something, there is little chance of being overlooked.  The Pottermore site will be taking care of the fans.

Kindle DRM Debate Magically Reignited By Harry Potter

With the announcement that the Harry Potter series will be offered in eBook for the first time through the author’s very own distribution system (via Kindle, Nook, and pretty much any other device you care to name) rather than through the normal channels or in partnership with any publishing company, J.K Rowling has almost certainly upset some people.  More importantly, however, her decision to release the incredibly popular series free of DRM constraints, relying instead on digital watermarking that will identify the original purchaser should a copy be found being distributed, brings the question of Digital Rights Management back to the front of our minds.

The philosophy behind this move will make sense to many people.  If you buy an eBook, why should it matter what device you decide to read it on?  If you own both a Kindle and a Nook, shouldn’t it be possible to move between them as desired?  Publishing companies, as well as eBook distributors like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, have traditionally felt that to be wishful thinking.  After all, if you can read the eBook on whatever you want, what is to stop you from giving a copy to your friends and family, or even throwing it onto the internet where anybody who wants to read it can get to it for free?  They see the restrictions as worth the price if it means that authors and publishers will continue to get their cut for each reader who comes along.

I look at this release as an experiment.  We will get a chance to see how an author fares when she takes an already established and well known collection of books and releases them digitally with very little control.  Will Harry Potter fans show up in huge numbers to buy the series yet again just so that they can read it on their Kindles?  Is it too late to catch the attention of most now that the series has already sold so well?  Perhaps the majority will even feel entitled to pirate the series, having already spent as much as $150+ on a complete set of the hardcovers.  This last point, in particular, holds certain weight for me since it gets to the heart of the DRM issue at hand.

If you buy for one medium, be it paper or Kindle, are you paying for the specific instance of that product, or are you paying for access to the information it contains.  If the former, then the DRM scheme we have now should be fine.  If anything, it is fairly lenient.  You would be paying for the opportunity to read a book on one specific platform and anything else is extra.  If, on the other hand, we are buying the information contained in the instance, then it makes sense to be able to access it via any device we have on hand.  Maybe paper books make more sense as collectables in a system like that?

Regardless of what the truth is, or how the public will choose to interpret it given this opportunity, Rowling is going to make loads of money.  Kindle owners are going to show up for this one.  The difference between tens and hundreds of millions of dollars could be how we have to judge the outcome of this experiment in the end.  It could easily become a point in favor of the abolishment of restrictive DRM, if people are honest.

Will Rowling’s ‘Pottermore’ Change Digital Distribution As We Know It?

J.K Rowling, long term eBook holdout, has decided to finally let the Harry Potter series out for the Kindle and into the eReading marketplace in general.  It’s good news for fans of Harry Potter, fans of eReaders, and basically everybody but the publishers.  You see, Rowling has retained her electronic publishing rights and stands to make pretty much pure profit from every sale these electronic releases bring along.  The only question now is what this will mean, if anything, for how eBooks work in general from this point on when it comes to major publications.

First, I should point out that Rowling has voluntarily agreed to pass along a portion of her eBook profits to her publishers, Bloomsbury Publishing and Scholastic.  No word on precisely how much, to the best of my knowledge, but it shows that this isn’t a cutting of ties to the industry.  We also know that Amazon and Barnes & Noble have stated that they are working with the Pottermore site to make sure that the new Harry Potter publications work with the Kindle, Nook, etc. with0ut much trouble.  This last fact could mean anything from simply optimizing the layout to offering some degree of post-purchase integration with the respective platforms.  It is too soon to tell on that.

I’m going to work on the assumption here that Rowling is putting aside any real integration with the Kindle or Nook platforms to avoid giving either Amazon or Barnes & Noble a cut.  They’re likely simply trying to take advantage of the inevitable popularity of the eBooks to promote themselves by association. That’s about the best they can hope to get from it.  For smaller book retailers, however, this is likely going to come as bad news.  Even more so for children’s booksellers.

Even if Pottermore, the site that Rowling will be selling her material through, takes off, will it change things for either publishers or retailers?  I am of the opinion that it will not.  This is a very unique case.  Most publishers make a point of acquiring the eBook rights at the same time as everything else when they sign a new author.  Especially now that the eBook industry has become such a big thing compared to what it was when Rowling got started.  As such, no way for big names to make a move like this after they become big names.  Newer authors, especially self-publishing authors, will not have the resources to push sales to users of the Kindle and Nook while still maintaining their distance from the respective platforms.  Even if they did, it isn’t like Amazon will jump at the chance to work closely with just any author who wants to circumvent their cut of the profits in a creative way.

Honestly, I would say that the only impact this will have is directly on the Harry Potter series.  There isn’t transfer to the rest of the eBook world.  It is too soon to say if the Pottermore site will do well, and most of that will likely have to do with considerations beyond the eBook availability.  Even if it does, the only people to benefit will be the Kindle-owning fans and Rowling herself.  It isn’t a sign that changes are coming.

J.K. Rowling Finally Bringing Harry Potter To The Kindle Through ‘Pottermore’

For quite a while now, one of the most popular series of books ever to be published has been repeatedly denied to Kindle users.  Author J. K. Rowling has absolutely refused to publish, or allow to be published, electronic versions of anything in the Harry Potter series.  Countless fan-made copies have circulated the internet over the years, of course, but now after much waiting fans will be able to purchase official copies of their favorite books directly through the author’s new website.

Rowling is somewhat unique among major authors in that she has refused to allow the eBook publication rights to either of her existing publishers.  Instead she will be providing the books herself through the much anticipated Harry Potter supplement site ‘Pottermore’.  Rowling has stated that she will be making the eBooks available for all major platforms, including the Kindle.  What’s perhaps the most interesting part of this is that there has been no indication that these book sales will be through the Kindle Store, iBooks, or any other platform as such.  Just that the formats will be available.  It has the potential to complicate things a bit for users who prefer a completely computer-free approach to their eReading, but I think that the associated website should do a fair job of keeping the computer portion interesting.

Pottermore is intended to be the important part of this announcement, as interesting as the eBook release will be to many Kindle-owning Potter fans. It seems to be an attempt to create a massive social venue for readers to interact with each other and experience the books in new ways while reading or re-reading the series.  Offering eBooks and digital audiobooks as exclusives is only an added draw compared to the opportunity for the audience to grab more official information about the Harry Potter Universe.

One has to wonder, however, if this is meant to be the crowning piece for the Potter experience.  It is clear from at least one highly publicized interview with Oprah that while Rowling might eventually come back to the setting, she’d like to move on.  We’ve seen everything from books and movies to candy and theme parks.  There isn’t a lot of room left to grow short of coming up with completely new material to draw from.  It has to be somewhat intimidating to even consider coming back to this universe in a significant way given that the fan base probably has the details down better than the author at this point.

Still, the fact that this means the end to one of the publishing world’s biggest holdouts on eBooks is good news for everybody.  In terms of the big picture, it shows that people are coming around and starting to accept where things are going.  More importantly, it means more choice for more people.  Really, in the end, the most important thing is that this fills a need and gives readers what they want.  That’s the most important part of the eReading market no matter how you look at it, whether you’re talking Kindle, Nook, or anything else.

Is Harry Potter Finally Coming to the Kindle?

After years of adamant refusal to consider the idea of releasing electronic versions of her amazingly popular Harry Potter series, there are rumors circulating that J.K. Rowling is giving serious thought to a release for Kindles and Kindle-like devices.  While it is doubtful that there are all that many people out there who are interested in reading the Harry Potter series who have also failed to procure the books at this point, considering the impressive sales figures, it’s hard to believe that this would be anything but a genius money-making decision for Rowling.  There have, in fact, been reports that this could benefit the author somewhere in the realm of £100 million.  The interesting part of all this is not so much how great it would be to Rowling’s already bulging bank figures as how important it could be for the eReading world.

I’ve seen reports that as much as 20% of the total book sales this past year came from eBooks.  For a new format, that’s huge.  It’s a slow process, though.  For the most part this stems from the fact that to truly get into the eReader experience you need a dedicated device like the Kindle.  Sure, lots of people get by with reading on their phones, PCs, or tablets, but it doesn’t work for everybody.  That means that the potential customer needs to lay out over a hundred dollars for a product that may or may not be of any use to them as far as they can tell. That’s a pretty big deal for most people.

What this move would mean, however, is the equivalent of a rock star endorsement. People who love the books will be more willing to grab something like a Kindle now that their favorite author has been swayed from her position of animosity toward the platform, especially since it means having access to their books in their entirety all at once without sustaining minor back injuries to carry them around.  Even more important, perhaps, will be the parents who are swayed to provide Kindles for their children as a result of the release.  As with any new technology, the earlier you are introduced to it, the more naturally you will be able to adapt to it, in general.  The sooner that eReaders become a part of the everyday lives of consumers and soon-to-be consumers, the faster mass adoption will proceed.

Admittedly, this is all nothing but speculation.  The power of the Harry Potter branding is clear, though.  We have movies, candy, peripheral reference books, and even a whole theme park based on nothing else.  It’s become so entrenched in literature today that you will see countless blurbs comparing anything with a magic wand or a contemporary setting connected to magic with the Harry Potter series.  I don’t see any real way to get around a major impact.  While I don’t view this as anything groundbreaking in terms of decision making on behalf of an author, the impact as it all goes forward will be fascinating to watch and should be unlikely to do anything but help eReading as a whole.

 

Kindle for Children: A Whole New World

Some children are voracious readers.  They look beyond the vast size of the Harry Potter or Twilight series and focus on the stories themselves.  They see reading as an adventure, and the bigger the book, the bigger the accomplishment.  Other children are reluctant readers.  They read what they have to for school and nothing else.  They see reading as a chore instead of a pleasure.  The Kindle has the ability to change that mentality.  Readers see the book one page at a time on the Kindle, instead of a large 500 page book.  By breaking the book down into smaller chunks, the book is perceived as less intimidating.

On the Amazon Kindle forums, there is a story written by the mother of a young teenager who does not like to read.  But once she tried the Kindle, she was hooked.  The post on the forum also pointed out the font adjustment feature on the Kindle.  Setting it to a larger font size equates to easier reading.  Many posters in the forum alluded to the fact that making the font larger does the trick.

Considering that the Kindle is not a book, but a container for many books, kids can find their niche in reading.  They have a large selection to choose from.  So, if one kid likes fantasy, they can quickly choose Harry Potter, or if another prefers the Chronicles of  Narnia, then it is right there as well.  The Kindle has great potential to be incorporated into the classroom.  Young readers will have vast libraries of books right at the click of a button.