Archive for October, 2009

Happy Halloween! A classic to read aloud

October 31, 2009

This is one of the classic horror stories.  It was first published in 1843 and written by Edgar Allan Poe, who died in 1849.   The story should be in the public domain everywhere.  As a Halloween treat, you may want to read it to each other out loud.  You can take turns, or one person can read it all.  You could let your Kindle take a turn…but that won’t be the same.  This shows the advantage of free distribution of the classics that e-books facilitates.  Be prepared, though…it’s scary!   It should take about fifteen minutes…hokey Halloween voices optional.  Parents, be advised…this could cause nightmares.

Enjoy?  Or at least…experience.  I now present…

THE TELL-TALE HEART (by Edgar Allan Poe)

TRUE!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily–how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture–a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees–very gradually–I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what caution–with what foresight–with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it–oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly–very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously–cautiously (for the hinges creaked)–I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights–every night just at midnight–but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers–of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out–“Who’s there?”

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;–just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief–oh, no!–it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself–“It is nothing but the wind in the chimney–it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel–although he neither saw nor heard–to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little–a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open–wide, wide open–and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness–all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense?–now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!–do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me–the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once–once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye–not even his–could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out–no stain of any kind–no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all–ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock–still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart,–for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled,–for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search–search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:–It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness–until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew _very_ pale;–but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased–and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath–and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly–more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men–but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed–I raved–I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder–louder–louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!–no, no! They heard!–they suspected!–they knew!–they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now–again!–hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!–tear up the planks! here, here!–It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Bonus: Quoth My Kindle

I originally published Quoth My Kindle (with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe) in this thread in the Amazon Kindle forum.   It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, The Raven.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
As I reached to slide to sleep mode, suddenly I found my hand slowed
As if driving up a steep road, driving with a heavy load
“I can’t seem to move it forward, as if some Kowboy had ‘whoa’d,
It’s a fluke and nothing more.”

Suddenly, a wheel was spinning, a face appeared, and it was grinning
I gasped and nearly dropped my m-edge, dropped it on the hardwood floor
I shook my head, I couldn’t take it; wasn’t sure if I would make it
Then that voice: speakers of portent – portent I would know the score
Then the robot quirkily intoned words that shook me to the core
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

“I need sleep!” I firmly stated, yet I found I hesitated
Reading – reading how it drew me like it never had before
So I sat there, pushing buttons, appetite of sev’ral gluttons
Bestsellers, public domain, ’til I think I filled up my brain
“Tis some magazine I’ve never even purchased at the store”
“I need to get up early!” I heard myself again implore
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

My eyes opened and I woke up; knew I dreamt my Kindle spoke up
So I dragged myself off to what had become my bedtime chore,
Although fact is what it did seem, I knew it was just a weird dream
So as I brushed my teeth, I felt safe behind my bathroom door
I kept my head beneath my covers, as I sailed to Morpheus’ shore…
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

For more Edgar Allan Poe, try this search for Poe freebies in the Kindle store. If you want to keep it simple, you can get this collection, which has an interactive table of contents. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #3: cheap pre-orders, nook prices, Kindle for PC video

October 30, 2009

E-book prices driven down by p-book prices!

Yes, you read me correctly!  Lower prices for paperbooks have driven down the price for e-books.

I wrote about a p-book price war in this earlier post.  Amazon and a couple of brick and mortars have been battling it out, and are doing pre-orders for some really big books for the holiday for $9.00 in hardback!  Those are huge discounts!

So, some of those books are now becoming able to be pre-ordered as Kindle books.  Generally, it’s a bad idea to pre-order Kindle books, if you want to get them as cheaply as possible.  It hasn’t been uncommon that a book will be priced higher as a pre-order for the Kindle, and drop after its released.

Why?  Well, pre-orders don’t really help the publisher or the retailer (Amazon) much, when it’s an e-book.  Not like when it’s a p-book, and they have to judge how many to print or how many to have on-hand.

New York Times bestsellers (and a lot of other new releases) commonly go for $9.99.

Well, for these Kindle pre-orders they went to..$9.  That matches the p-book pre-order price, and is a mighty ninety-nine cents below the usual.  :)  Okay, okay, maybe that’s nothing to write home about…and if you did it would cost you about half what you saved just to mail the letter.  ;)

I expect the $9 price for the p-books may evaporate pretty quickly after release (certainly, after the holidays), and the e-book prices may go back to $9.99.

Here are a few of those $9 e-book pre-orders:

I, Alex Cross (by James Patterson)

Pirate Latitudes (by Michael Crichton) (UPDATE: down to $7.20!)

Under the Dome (by Stephen King) (UPDATE: down to $7.20!)

Friends, Romans, Countrymen…lend me your e-books

I haven’t really compared the Kindle and the Barnes and Noble nook (sic) yet.  I’ll probably do a full post on that at some point.

However, one of their flashy points has been the ability to “lend” e-books.  Yes, that sounds like a cool feature.  There has just recently been a confirmation about one of the limitations, though…there had been some confusion about it.

Phil_K, a very helpful admin in the Barnes and Noble discussion board for the nook, gives definitive answers.

In this post, he says:

“The LendMe feature on nook can be used once for each eBook, and once only.”

So, you can lend a book…once…for fourteen days…during which time you can’t access it on your nook…only to people who have the Barnes and Noble free reader software (and a lot of people will)…and only if the publisher allows it.

It’s a cool idea, and the concept of it will appeal to people.   However, I think the reality is quite a bit more limited than people think.

It does sound like (similar to Amazon) you could have multiple nooks on one account and access the books on multiple devices…but I’m not sure if there is a device limit on that.  I’m guessing there will be, set by the publishers, but I can’t confirm that.

Comparing nook and Kindle prices

This came up on the Amazon Kindle forum, and got me to compare prices (again) between Barnes and Noble and Amazon.  Amazon tends to come out ahead (or below…cheaper, at any rate).

The poster was asking about books by Anne George, so I checked a few of her mystery books.

The poster was also concerned that the price at Amazon was higher than the price on the book that she had bought recently at B&N.

I pointed out that if you are talking about the price printed on the book, that what is called the List Price. That’s set by the publisher, and is the same at any retailer (Amazon, Barnes and Noble) that you see…unless they happen to have an old copy laying around. The publishers do change those (usually up) ;) from time to time. Sometimes that is when they do a new print run, and sometimes they use stickers (much more permanent than the price stickers we used when I ran a bookstore).  I never liked those.

Publishers also set the Digital List Price (again, that will be the same at all retailers…and since they don’t need to use those pesky stickers, there won’t be “old ones”).

The retailer then may discount that (Amazon generally does). I’ve compared Amazon and Barnes and Noble a couple of times…Amazon is generally cheaper. Not always, I’m sure, but usually.

Murder Runs in the Family  (I’m linking to the Kindle edition)

$7.99 paper list price (PLP…set by the publisher)
$14.99 digital list price (DLP set by the publisher)
$7.99 at Amazon both in e-book and p-book

At Barnes and Noble:

$7.99 PLP
$7.19 (for members)
$14.99 DLP
$11.99 e-book price at B&N

So, on the nook, it’s $4 more than for the Kindle. although the paper price (for members) is eighty cents cheaper.

Murder on a Girls’ Night Out
 

Same at Amazon: $7.99 all around.

Same situation at Barnes and Noble: $4 more for the nook than for the Kindle, eighty cents less (for members) for the p-book

Murder Makes Waves
 

The same…

So, if you bought all three books for the nook instead of the Kindle, you’d pay $12 more.

The question here is, why does the publisher (HarperCollins) set the digital list price so much higher than the print list price?

That’s a good question.  :)  You might want to write to them:

orders@harpercollins.com (that’s what they give as the e-mail address when you select Customer Service.

Kindle for PC video

Okay, I’m excited about Kindle for PC.  I wrote about that in this earlier post. 

Well, there’s now a video on-line (at Microsoft’s site) that shows it in use with the just released Windows 7. Now, admittedly, they are showing off a lot of the touch capabilities of Windows 7…sort of like an iPhone.

The video is here:

Kindle for PC Demo on Windows 7

Ignore the touch stuff, and it’s not all that fancy, but that’s fine.  It was hard to tell, but it looked like the main page (like the homescreen) didn’t seem to have any folders…but there was only one book, so it wasn’t obvious.

One other thing: the video said it was coming in November…that would be nice.  :)

News crawl

some foreign users are reporting difficulty registering their Kindles with Audible.com…some foreign users are reporting trouble charging through a USB, because of an output difference…some are too busy reading to report anything at all…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

I like the feel of a real book

October 29, 2009

One of the things you’ll hear from people who haven’t used a Kindle (sometimes in a deprecating tone, sometimes just one of concern) is:

“I like the feel of a real book.”

I think my significant other had the best response.  My SO said:

“I like the feel of a hundred books.”

:)

Well, I edited that a little bit, but it’s a good line.

Honestly, you sensualists, I was with you.  I love paperbooks (p-books).  I have something like ten thousand of them.  I have a floor to ceiling library in my house.  I have books that are one hundred years old.  I’ve bought the same book in different editions, just to be a completist.

I didn’t think I would like e-books…I was wrong.

I love books…I’m just not that crazy about paper and ink.  :)

The book isn’t the container: it’s what the author wrote.

Well, and what the editor edited and the proofreader proofread and…but you get the idea.

There was a time when paperbacks were as disdained as e-books.  Why?  Well, one argument was that they weren’t as high quality (in terms of construction), and that was true.  A fifty-year old paperback is much more likely to be literally falling apart (I have some held together with rubber bands) than a hundred year old hardback.

But the other thing is that they “cheapened” books.  I mean, if Shakespeare costs fifty cents, what good is it?  ;)

That’s one of the unspoken reasons for wanting books to be lasting and expensive.   For years, the written word was truly the property of a few.  Then, we got Gutenberg, penny dreadfuls, and dime novels.  We got cheap paperbacks in the 1950s…not just sensationalist works aimed at the masses, but the same books the “special few” were reading!

I’m not saying that everyone who loves paperbooks is an elitist…really.  I do think some are: they display their special books like trophies or like the Hope Diamond.  They are proud of spending thousands for a first edition.

Honestly, that’s fine…it’s like collecting art or anything else.

But it isn’t about reading.

I’ve seen people say they like the feel of turning the pages.

If that’s the case, you’d enjoy “reading” a book in a language you don’t know, right?  Or one with blank pages?

You can be proud of your ability to turn pages, certainly…it’s hard!  Even the best of us turn two pages by mistake sometimes, and who hasn’t accidentally bent a page?  Or even dropped a book trying to turn the page and lost your place?

People with reduced fine motor skills, either due to a debilitating condition, or a lack of sensitivity in the fingers, find it even more difficult.

Don’t think it’s hard?  Take a look at this robot doing it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBMhZZ_DdwA

Sorry, if you are reading this on your Kindle, that video won’t work for you…but it should be okay for iPhone, iPod touch, and computer users.

I won’t say I’ve never picked up a book I didn’t understand and flipped a few pages…but that’s not what I really like about reading a book.

It’s the mental interaction.  It’s reading the author’s words and connecting with them in that special way.

So, wouldn’t something that makes getting the words in front of your eyes and in a form that’s easier to read be better?

It is for me. 

Let’s start with getting the books at all.  That’s much easier with e-books.  Wireless (like the Kindle) or not, it saves a trip to the store or waiting for a book to come in the mail. 

How about expense?  E-books are almost always cheaper (see this earlier post) and there are thousands for free!  Those free books are often the ones for which people paid more as p-books.  Shakespeare?  Dickens?  That’s the kind of stuff people pay five hundred dollars for!  They are free, baby, free!

Now you’ve gotten a bunch of books.   How about having access to them when you want?  Again, booklover, the e-book wins.  If you love books, why don’t you want them with you?  If you want to own them, p-books are fine..they can sit on their nice shelves at home while you are out.  If you want to actually read them….carry a thousand with you!  Pull more out of the air! 

Okay, so now you have a book in your hands.  Which one is better there?

Believe it or not, it didn’t take very long before I preferred e-books.  Holding a physical book is a very specific feeling, and I’m not saying you won’t miss it.  But reading a Kindle is less intrusive, a purer connection to the words, in my opinion.   Since the “page turning” is always the same, regardless of book, you don’t have to think about it as much.  I know, it sounds funny, but you do have to think about whether it is a big book or a little book, cheap newsprint, or glossy pages.  Oh, not consciously, necessarily, but it does take some mental processing.

As to the appearance of the words…being able to make the text size larger can make a huge difference, especially for people with certain print disabilities. 

Once you’ve read a few pages…what then?  With a paperbook, you get a bookmark (or a scrap of paper…or…um…a disposable chopstick sleeve: wait, is that one just me?). :)   With a Kindle, you can just let it go to sleep.  I usually hit Home first…but I don’t have to check the floor to see if I dropped that button.  :)

Oh, and of course, it kept me much more in the book experience on those rare occassions when I went to another room to get a dictionary.  Or to find a pen and paper (or laptop) to make a note of a great quotation. 

Overall, then, I find that reading e-books is much better than reading p-books.

The ownership thing is fine…it’s a grand tradition.  People have been owning things for generations.  Vinyl records, CDs, paperbooks, gold, silver…of course, it’s dying out among the young whippersnappers, what with their mp3s and debit cards and e-books.  Tradition!  If I want to buy my p-book with a gold doubloon, nobody’s gonna stop me! 

I mean, can’t you just see Scrooge McDuck diving into a debit card?  Throwing it up and letting it hit him in the head?  What fun is that?

Okay, so ten percent of my mortgage goes to pay for space for my books…that’s my call, right?   Our friends have sworn never to help us move again…I can always pay for movers, right? 

Um…wait a minute.  Paying for movers?   Paying the mortgage on a bedroom just for the books?  Why, somebody would have to be rich to do that!

You want to look rich…get a Rolex.  You want to read books?  Get a Kindle. 

;)

Okay…end of the faux outrage section.  ;) 

Bottom line…try an e-book reader for a week or so.  You may find that what you get outweighs what you lose.  On the other hand, there is nothing that says you can’t read both…a lot of people do.

BONUS:  Plea from a paper book

Look, we need to talk. Strike that…you’ve been talking enough to that Kindle already! And it talks back!

I just feel like…when we first got together, I thought it would be forever. When you bought me that mahogany bookshelf, and those sweet heart-shaped bookends, I thought that meant we had a commitment.

Now…well, you never take me anywhere any more. I don’t know when I even last left this shelf (which feels like a mahogany prison now, by the way). It’s not that I’m angry, it’s just that…

Well, what am I supposed to do? I can’t make myself younger! As soon as something more modern came along, you dumped me. Okay, so that hussy is smarter than I am! It’s not my fault! She’s more adaptable…yeah, like you’d admit to =her= that your eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be!

What about the history we have together? That trip to the beach…those nights in bed…that cute little mustard stain on page 75. She’s not a =real= book! She’ll never smell like me! You can’t be happy with a…thing like that!

So, come on back. What does she have that I haven’t got? Pick me up…see what a =real= book feels like, not some skinny little cold metal floozy who keeps falling asleep on you! I’m here right now: I’m sure you can find those reading glasses again: they make you look so distinguished by the way, dear.

I know, I know…I guess it was inevitable. Don’t judge a book by its cover, right? I’m sure she’s perfectly nice. She’s perfect in every way, according to you! Sorry…just, every once in awhile, could you dust me off and take me to the family room? You know, just for old time’s sake?

Please?

Plea from a paper book originally appeared in this Amazon Forum post.


This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the
I Love My Kindle blog.

Kindle Kandy: blogs

October 28, 2009

Some things you read on your Kindle are like a full and satisfying seven course meal.  Depth and emotional range, a life-enriching experience.

Then there are blogs.  :)

Those are more like a candy jar: a quick snack, something you just grab when you want it, enjoy the flavor, and quickly move on.

For those of you who have never read a blog…wait a minute, that can’t be right.  You’re readiing a blog right now!  Oh, you…you’re so contemporary with your Twitter and your ZipCar!  You’re on the cutting hipster edge with your snarkiness!

On the other hand, reading a blog mainly requires one skill…reading.   Usually with full  words, so you don’t even need UrbanDictionary or AcronymFinder.  You’re not hip…you’re deep.  :)

That’s right…reading blogs is a lot like the Kindle itself: appealing to old school readers and techies alike. 

They have a really broad range…after all, it’s a delivery system…a medium, not a genre.   They tend to be short and done often (although not always regularly). 

They may be stream of consciousness wittiness or intellectual and even well-researched.

Shopping in the Kindle blog store is sort like staying in a giant hotel where they are hosting a conference of Nobel prize laureates, a rave, and a sci fi convention at the same time…and you’re just riding up and down in the elevator all day listening to the conversations.

What’s available?

What isn’t?  ;)  As I write this there are 7,328 blogs in the Kindle store.  The top blogs sort of shift around, like the seeded racers in a marathon…with a whole bunch of people behind them.

Interestingly, several Kindle blogs tend to stay in the top ten:

Kindle Nation Daily by Stephen Windwalker

A Kindle World by Andrys Basten

I Love My Kindle by Bufo Calvin (that’s what you are reading now)

A couple of other blogs help you find things to read for your Kindle:

The Kindle Reader (#24 as I write this) by Jan Zlendich

Red Adept’s Kindle Book Review Blog  (#34)

And some are sort of a mix:

iReaderReview  (#27)

That’s just a sampling of Kindle-focused blogs.  But what if you can’t even remember the name of that device you use for reading?  What if your Kindle is the biggest thing in your life (next to family and friends and…fill in the blank)?

Well, there are really well-known names, like The Huffington Post (#11) and Vanity Fair (#25).

There are newsfeeds , like the AP US News (#28) and the New York Times Latest News  (which is usually in the top ten: #5)

You want humor?  How about The Onion (#6) or Are You Friggen’ Kidding Me? (#4)?

Okay, so that’s a few of the big and Kindle blogs. 

How about sports?  The #1 sports blog is ESPN – The Football Playbook.

That’s still pretty mainstream.  Blogs can get into really specialized areas:

Victorian House Blog 

NEQNET: Non-equillibrium Phenomena  (“…about cutting edge theoretical physics, its methods and their application to quantitative analysis of markets.”)

Pacific Northwest Golf Review

Free trial!

Kindle store blogs come with a 14-day free trial.  How much you are going to get is going to depend on how much the blogger writes.  Typically, you’ll get ten posts on your Kindle in one download.  That’s not ten new ones…you’ll get a new one maybe once a day, maybe once a week…hard to say exactly.  Still, the free trial should give you a pretty good sense if its worth the money.

How much money?  Blogs are cheap!  Many of them are ninety-nine cents a month, some are $1.99.  The price is set by Amazon.  I usually post once a day (sometimes more).  At ninety-nine cents a month, that’s about three cents a post.  :)  Okay, it’s more like 3.3, and in February, it’s more like 3.5.  ;)

Still, that’s a pretty good deal.  My posts tend to run over a thousand words…yeah, I talk a lot.  :)

That’s going to make these great little gifts around the holidays!  You can’t actually (at time of writing) buy one for someone who isn’t on your Kindle account…but you could give them a gift certificate or a buck, and let them know what they should get.  Ten bucks could get them a lot of reading…a veritable smorgasWORD!  ;)

A few notes:

* Blogs are currently not available outside the USA.  I’m hoping that changes in the future

* Yes, in many cases you could read the blog for free by going to a website.  You are paying for the convenience of having it delivered, and the Kindle interactivity

* If you don’t cancel the blog subscription, you will get charged for it.  Just go to the Manage Your Kindle page

* Subscriptions can not be shared between Kindles

* “Back issues” of blogs are not kept for you by Amazon.  You’ll have that current issue (which may have ten posts).  You can probably see the back issues at the website

* You can change which device (Kindle, iPhone, iPod touch…) gets future issues

* You can download your blog even if you don’t have wireless connection.  You do that on that Manage Your Kindle page.  You download it to your computer, then transfer it to your Kindle’s documents folder using your included USB cord

So, whatever your interests, there is probably a blog for you.  If there isn’t, you can sell your own at Amazon!

You start here:

kindle publishing for blogs

I don’t know why, but you’ll have to set up a different account than your normal Amazon account to be able to log-in. 

If you don’t already have a blog, you’ll want to set one up.  I use WordPress, but a lot of people use Blogger.com .  Those are both popular, and it was a touch call.  They also are both free for the basic service (which is what I use).

You can get all sorts of fancy, and pay for additional services and special “themes” and such.

Once you have that set up, it gets “fed” to Amazon.

Are you going to make a lot of money at this?  Well, you’ll get 30% of the subscription price…which I mentioned above is something like ninety-nine cents or $1.99, set by Amazon.  I’ve had one report so far from Amazon: I got $33.17 in royalties for September.  That’s not much for something like 30,000 words.  I’m just new, though…that may pick up later.

Clearly, people don’t do this just for the money.  Oh, you can certainly make money other ways with blogs.  I choose not to have ads on my blog website, but that’s one way.  Also, there are the referrer links.  When you click on the Amazon links in the blog, and then buy something (it doesn’t have to be the same thing), I may get a cut (it varies…I don’t get anything for Kindle books, for example).  I think some people may do pretty well with that…if you write a blog recommending laptops, that might get you something.

However, if you’ve got something to say, this is an interesting way to do it.  For me, I debated it for awhile.  If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to try and do it.   I was a little reluctant to commit to on “on-going relationship” like this.  Writing a “title” for the Kindle store is different: I do go back and update them, but I don’t feel like I have to do it for every day of the week.  I’ve got a family that comes first, and a full-time (and then some) job training medical folks.  This is fun, and I do feel like I’m helping people…those are both important to me.  :)

So, whether you are a reader or writer or both, consider dipping into the Kindle Kandy…you aren’t always in the mood for a meal.  :)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Kill a tree, save a dollar?

October 27, 2009

In my experience, it’s very unusual to find a Kindle book that is more expensive than a p-book (paperbook) of the same version of the same title.

It does happen, though.  This is my sense of it:

1. It happens when the Kindle book price is based on the hardback, and the paperback is released.  This is usually a short term situation, because the digitial list price will be lowered in short order

2. It happens when the paperback and the Kindle book are both available for pre-order.  This normally straightens out when the paperback is actually available for purchase, or shortly thereafter

3. It happens with Kindle books and hardbacks when the hardback is a bargain book.  The paperback may not have been released yet, but they are reducing the hardback stock.  Those are what we would have called remainders in the bookstore.  Amazon marks them as bargain books.  When the book is no longer a bargain book (either because it is out of print, or it returns to normal pricing because the excess stock issue has been resolved), this settles

4. The p-book is on a special promotional sale for another reason

5. It’s an error, and it gets corrected.  It can help to point it out to Amazon.

Bottom line: a bicycle is not always cheaper than a car, but that’s the probability.  :)

That reminds me of an old line attributed to Damon Runyon:

“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet.”

:)

Whenever this topic arises, people inevitably say that they didn’t get a Kindle to save money.  Others may suggest that buying a Kindle was financially imprudent (did you like the tactful way I put that?  They don’t always).  ;) 

For me, I’ve saved tremendous amounts of money.  It’s going to depend very much on what your buying habits were like before the Kindle, of course. 

Bestsellers tend to be cheaper on the Kindle.  The price wars this holiday season, at least on some big name titles, may make that not true or at least, not as true.  If all you bought were New York Times bestsellers when they were first released in hardback, you’ll save money with the Kindle…at least, on the initial purchase.

I say on “the initial purchase”, because if you regularly sold the p-book afterwards, that makes a difference.   Do it in a timely fashion, and you could get 25% on a new, popular hardback.  If you donated the book, that doesn’t count, unless you took a tax write-off. 

If you regularly bought new books from pretty much anywhere, e-books will probably save you money…unless you waited for remainders (those bargain books).

Now, if you regularly bought used books, that’s different…especially if you were a library sale/garage sale kind of a shopper.  E-books will only beat p-books there if you bought public domain books you can find for free in electronic versions.  After all, zero is lower than ten cents.  :)

The other way you’ll save money buying Kindle books is if you have eclectic tastes.  The broader you range, the more opportunities you have to get free or low costs titles.  Like romances?  Amazon has a bunch of free ones (Harlequin and its imprints have embraced e-books…I assume passionately).  ;)  Science fiction?  Try the Baen Free Library.  Download them in Mobi format. 

So, can you ever find p-books cheaper than the e-book? Sure.  Is that going to be typical.  Nope. 

 This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Reminder: it’s Kindle Love sweepstakes week!

October 26, 2009

To celebrate the 10th year of the wish list feature, Amazon has been doing a weekly sweepstakes…different themes each week.

This week, October 26November 1 is Kindle Love!

One person wins all this:

* 1 Kindle International, pre-loaded with 10 fiction new releases, 10 non-fiction new releases, and 10 Oprah’s Book Club picks.  It will also have a 1-year subscription to The New York Times and a 1-year subscription to The Economist!

*8 more Kindle Internationals!  Yours to donate, give away…and I guess you could sell them…check official rules

* 1 Kindle DX 

* Covers for all, plus more, including a Patagonia cover, Mighty Bright Lights a Cole Haan cover, and more!

Cool, right?

How do you enter?  You put stuff on your Amazon wish list…even using the Universal Wish List button.  For more information on that, see this earlier post.

Good luck!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Wings, Water, and Woe

October 26, 2009

In honor of Halloween week, I offer this short tale.  Let me warn you that some may find it frightening or unnerving.  Although there is nothing in it that has to do with Kindles, I’m justifying its inclusion in the blog because it is part of the “world of e-books”.  Feel free to leave me a comment to let me know what you think, and if you would like to read more fiction like this in I Love My Kindle.

Wings, Water, and Woe

The wrong graves had been robbed.

It was a mistake made by men who were now long dead. True, the just consequences of their damnable error had shortened their mortal existence…but even their grand-children, if any, were dust by now.

No one now alive had known them. There was no one to recall the way they had liked their tea, or their bon mots, or the way they smelled…no one alive.

I may not have known all the particulars of their small lives, but I could tell you how each of them behaved when my brothers and I spilled their lifeblood in a scene of horrible bestial carnage. One screamed, one prayed, one begged, one seemed to fall to sleep…and one smiled. I often thought of the last, his rotten teeth bared to the ocean wind. I think if his throat had not already been crushed, he might have laughed.

I admired that. If he had been one of us, I think I might have grown to like him.

But he wasn’t…his very death proved that. As did the deaths of his…friends? family? coworkers?

My brothers and I, we can not die. Much as we might long for it…if that other longing didn’t override all other emotions so often.

It is upon me now. How many nights has it been since we fed? The ocean smells are the same, I think, as then…but decades of monotony has become a fetid blur for me. My senses are as sharp as ever. I hear the satisfaction of the shark, three fathoms deep, as it rips the entrails from its prey. I feel the confusion of the baby dolphin…the helplessness of its mother…the desperation of the rest of its pod as it races to the scene of the tragedy.

They’ll kill the shark. It made a stupid mistake…it deserves to die.

The warm-bloodedness of the dolphins…it sings to me. But it is not my song.

A thousand fish, a sea turtle, even the tiniest creatures add a note to the symphony.

Even living men can sometimes hear the song. It enriches their blood…adds flavor to it. To take a human who is in the very throes of contact with the life forces of the universe…that is glorious.

But those grave-robbers…they couldn’t even feel the emotions of their own kind! Their wretched blood…I couldn’t stomach it. It was cold, cold…not from temperature, but from…isolation. When we burst from the hold, not one looked to another. Their focus was either on us or turned inward…or reaching skyward to the unknown. It was as though they were candles without flames, arranged neatly together…but as if they didn’t exist to each other.

I had to force myself three nights later to gnaw the ship’s deck, to derive what little sustenance I could from the stains. I couldn’t have felt more debased…laying on the wood, feeling the rise and fall of it with the gentle swells, scratching and scraping…the most perfect weapons the world had ever known being used as a lowly rat might.

How I hated that! How I hated them! How I hated myself!

My brothers had, kindly, taken to the air. They had fed when the kills were fresh, and would be sustained for some nights yet. We had not even spoken of what we all knew I must do. They had simply left.

I knew they could not go far. That is the irony, the complication, the curse that resulted from that unforgiveable bungle!

We can not cross water.

None of us knows why. It is just a fact. The ancients spoke of Charon, ferrying the dead across the water…we have no coin with which to pay. We can not cross to the land of the dead…half-way is as far as we can go, then we must return.

I knew my brothers must return to the ship that was to become our world. We are not good fliers…perhaps the sky rejects us as well. They would do their best not to feel my shame…and I could do nothing to control its transit in all directions.

From time to time, that taste returns. It will never fully leave.

Would that I had the strength to stay on deck until the dawn came! I can not…I can not think clearly. The blood-hunger clouds my mind.

Where have we drifted since last night? I know not. I wish this night would end, so I can have the oblivion of my coffin until the next night comes!

“I hear humans, my sister!”

I…what? It is my oldest brother. His senses are the sharpest of us all. Unlike the living, we do not weaken over time…we grow stronger.

My thoughts swim, but my brother’s words come into the sharpest focus, like the touch of moonlight on the thinnest blade of razor-grass.

“A ship?”

“Too soon to tell. It could be an island.”

“And little brother?”

“He has gone aloft to get closer. He wants to hear it, too.”

I don’t want to hear it! I want to taste them! I need it! It doesn’t matter to me what or who they are! If I could drag them here…if my will could bring our ships together! My hunger reaches out and out!

One human stirs uneasily. He looks at the clouds as they cross the moon. He feels a chill…I feel his warmth.

Maybe that contact pulls us together. Little brother returns to our prison ship. We drift towards the other and they towards us. Both swept by the same current.

“Ahoooyyyy!”

As we get closer, they cry out to our ship.   They have seen it.  To them it is a lifeless wreck…and it is.  There is no life here…only us.

Our sails rotted away decades ago.  We did not know how to care for them…and during the day, there was nothing we could do.  We had awoken one evening to find our main mast had snapped.  Some storm, we assumed, since water covered the decks, but had not reached our coffins in the hold.

Curiousity…empathy…greed…a note of fear from the one I had touched across the waves.  We lay in our coffins: how peculiar it is to feel the dirt of home and not sleep!  We wait…it drives me nearly frantic!  The grappling hooks thunk dully on our hull.  They echo, and the fish beneath us jump, startled at the vibration.

I want to throw my cover aside, rush up and drink from the first of them!  That one is reaching out…he thinks he may find someone who needs his help.  Concern for strangers…one of the sweetest spices!

But I must restrain myself.  We must let them all get on the ship!  We must make sure none escape!  There is no saying how long it may be before we find living men again!  And though we can not starve, we can sufffer.

My mind (or is it something deeper) flashes back over other times we have fed!  I remember when we tried to keep some prey alive, to have more nights where we did not hunger.  Of course, they escaped during the day: we are so vulnerable after a night of satiation!  They could have perhaps attacked us, but it was worse.

When we awoke the next night, I could still sense them in the water, out of reach of our fangs, but not of our awareness.  Oh, the frustration!  Eventually they surrendered to the dark blue embrace…what a waste that was!

So, no more.  They will all die tonight…

…and we will envy them.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Word up! Using the Kindle’s dictionary

October 25, 2009

I think I have a pretty extensive vocabulary.  When I was a kid, I read the dictionary cover to cover (not that I retained all of it).  I loved Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obsure, and Preposterous Words (which has apparently evolved into this…and isn’t available for the Kindle).

So, in my egotism, I thought the dictionary function of the Kindle just wasn’t going to be that useful for me. 

It turned out that I was wrong, and I do use it from time to time…and it’s very satisfying when it does know a word I don’t.  I’ll admit it: every once in awhile, I can’t remember which 18th century carriage is which.  ;)

I even started a thread in the Amazon Kindle forum called Words my Kindle taught me.

Here’s a quick sampling of words (contributed both by me and by others) from that thread: verst, chiaroscuro, enthalpy, jezail, tufa, and smegma.

Don’t know what they all mean?  If you are reading this on a Kindle (besides the Kindle 1…it works a bit differently), use your 5-way to get in front of the word.  The definition will appear at the bottom of the screen. 

If the writing is too small for you (cough, ahem, not saying anything personally), you can hit the enter key on the Kindle.  It looks like a downward arrow that smashed into the ground, broke at a ninety-degree angle, and is pointing to your left.  :)EnterThat will open the word in the dictionary itself.  Once you are there, it is just like you are in any other book.  You can use the Aa key to increase the text size.  You can even bookmark the page (Alt+B) or make a note (Menu-Add a Note or Highlight-start typing).   After you look at the word and definition, hit the Back button to go back to where you were in the book.

Making a list and checking it twice

The notes and bookmarks are the answer to a question I’ve been asked before.   Some people like to revisit the words they’ve learned, as a way to reinforce the knowledge later.  Others simply like to collect them like trophies: labeling where and when the capture was made.

When you go back to the dictionary, you can do Menu-My Notes & Marks to see the list.

Which dictionary?

The Kindle comes with The New Oxford American Dictionary .   I think that’s the right edition…although oddly, it’s not for sale to US customers.  Of course, you don’t need to buy one…it came with the Kindle.  :)

What makes the dictionary different from any other book?  It has that special lookup feature, where you just have to get in front of the word.

The Kindle store has a section for Default Dictionaries.  This includes:

After you buy the dictionary and download it to your Kindle, it’s easy to switch.

Home-Menu-Settings-Change Primary Dictionary

You’ll see a list, and you can pick the one you want to use. 

This option may not be available if you only have one possible dictionary.

In the future, I’m sure there will be more options.  The Klingon Dictionary is available for the Kindle, but not as a default.  :)

Do you have more Kindle dictionary questions or tips?  Let me know!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round-up: What a Week!

October 24, 2009

And then there were two…again

Less than two weeks ago, Amazon released the Kindle International.  That meant that Amazon was selling new: the Kindle DX (larger, better for professional/academic use); the Kindle 2 (which it was just calling a Kindle) which had Sprint for its US wireless; and the Kindle 2i (which has wireless in some countries outside the US (and uses AT&T in the US).

Then, BOOM!  No more Kindle 2 new.  It goes into the same retired class as the K1.  Amazon “consolidated” the K2 and K2i…even putting the reviews from the K2 on the K2i’s page. 

I’m seeing a lot of people asking if they should return new K2s for K2is.  I wouldn’t.  Here’s the thing.  Overall, Sprint has better coverage in the US.  I think they may be be sought after by people who can get a wireless Sprint connection in the US, but can’t get AT&T.

Sprint Coverage Map 

AT&T Coverage Map
 

Amazon has said they will continue to provide Sprint, and I think that’s reasonable to expect.

So, I think people may start getting more than they paid for K2s on the secondary market. 

Of course, it’s simpler to just return it for the K2i, and that’s fine, too.  :)

Stephen King’s Under the Dome to get staggered release

This one was disappointing…and there was a lot of confused response to it.   I had mentioned before that this was being closely watched.  Publishers are trying to figure out what to do with e-book releases.  E-books are more profitable than p-books (paperbooks)…but they are a much smaller part of the overall publishing market (so far).  The biggest book of the year had a simultaneous release, but a number of other prominent books (Ted Kennedy, Sarah Palin) went for staggered.

People were shocked…shocked, I tell you! that the price of the e-book was $35.00 and the hardback is pre-order selling for $9!

Um…apples and oranges.  The $35 is the list price set by the publisher…and it is the same for the e-book and the p-book.   That’s commonly done, by the way.  Whether that makes sense or not is a different question.

The $9 is the retail price, set by Amazon.  That’s two cents more than the Wal-Mart pre-order price.

Both companies are probably losing a ton of money on each one of those sold.   A typical wholesale (what the retailer pays the publisher) price is 50% of the list price, or at least it used to be.  That means that Amazon is losing $8.50 in direct money on each copy of Under the Dome that is pre-ordered at this price.  Why would they chose to do that?  In hopes you buy other things because of this purchase (or later purchases) where they do make money.

Amazon probably pays the same price for the e-book…so they lose money on a lot of e-book sales.  That’s what Jeff Bezos calls “investment mode”.  Lose money now to make money later…just what the whole Amazon website did for years.

Reportedly, Stephen King approved of this move…which surprised me a bit.  He’s been pretty forward looking before…he made an early experiment with e-books, and has talked about liking his Kindle.

I hope this was a hard decision for him, honestly.  I’ve heard that he wanted to help the brick and mortar stores…a bail-out of sorts.  I’m guessing he was thinking small bookstores.  However, they may be competing with CostCo and Wal-Mart more than with Amazon.  The big box stores can underprice the little bookstores…the big guys don’t live and die on book sales.

I do think they made a good choice in releasing the e-book on December 24.  Since it takes no time to get it, you could give somebody a gift certificate for the book, and that person could start reading it in five minutes.  I think releasing the Sarah Palin book on December 26th is a mistake.  How many people are going to buy a hardback on the last day or two?  Some, certainly…but “getting an e-book” to give to somebody would likely be more attractive to more people.

I don’t like staggered releases.  One of my main concerns is for families that have some members with print disabilites and some without.  With an e-book, both those with challenges and those without can access the same copy.  No doubt, there will be an audio version of Under the Dome available when the hardback is released…but that does mean getting two copies (one audio, one paper).   Also, text-to-speech (or an audiobook) only addresses some disabilities.  E-books have other accessibility advantages, like the ability to increase the text size and how light they are.  Have you priced larged print books lately?

I think as the e-book share of the market grows we’ll see fewer staggered releases…at least, I hope so.

The nook (sic)

Barnes and Noble revealed an e-book reader this week.  I’m happy to see more e-book readers out there: I think the rise of e-books is part of the democratization of information. 

They appear to have tried to respond to what some people have seen as deficiencies in the Kindle: customizable sleep mode pictures; the ability to lend books; color; native EPUB compatibility; wi fi; and a touch screen.

I absolutley think its a good thing that there are more e-book readers out there.  I think it’s kind of funny when people refer to things as “Kindle killers”.  My guess is that in the next couple of years, the market for e-book readers and e-books will by several times what it is right now.  There is no question that other devices can take market share from the Kindle, but that won’t eliminate the Kindle in the market. 

If you didn’t know anything about e-books (or books generally), and you saw pictures of the Kindle and the nook side-by-side, no question that the nook looks flashier.  It looks like a cooler gift.  It will also get a boost as a gift by being in stores that are in malls.  When people are despondently looking for a gift for someone, wandering from store to store, it’s going to catch people’s eyes.  More, I think, than the Sony e-reader…again, because it’s flashier. 

However, I think there will be some backlash and some returns when people figure out more about how it works.  Right now, the comparison is between the reality of the Kindle and the concept of the nook.   If you just say that the Kindle reads books, a lot of people think of audiobooks…and it’s not that.  That reality is out there for people who read up on the device or talk to someone who has one.

The same thing will happen with the nook.

* Lending books: yes, if the publisher allows it.  People are irritated that Random House blocks text to speech on the Kindle: I think the blocking of lending may be much wider spread than that.   Also, when you lend it, it is gone from your nook during the loan.  More importantly is that lending isn’t giving or selling.  People do like to lend books…but many  people actually want to give them away (to a friend, to a senior community, to a library) or sell them (to a used bookstore).   While this is a nice feature, I believe it will disappoint

* Color: only for a little screen at the bottom where you pick the book you want to read.  It’s not for the books themselves.  People certainly say they want color in their books: in non-fiction, it can be important for graphs, but I also just think people like the look in photographs and such.  However, I tihnk a lot of people will think it’s for the books.   Again, the reality may disappoint

* Native EPUB: this is a plus, although converting EPUB for the Kindle is simple.  I do think Amazon may enable native EPUB through a software update at some point

* Customizable sleep mode pictures: definitely a plus, definitely something people want…and definitely something the Kindle could have as well.  How do we know that?  There is an unauthorized “hack” out there that can make it happen now.  I don’t recommend using the hack: it violates your Terms of Service.  That’s why it would be nice if Amazon just did an authorized version

* Touch screen: a lot of people complain about the touch screen on the Sony.  They think they want one, but it is hard to keep them clean…and very distracting to have a smudge on your book

* Wi-fi: there have been some unclear reports on this, but it does appear that you’ll be able to get to purchase books via wi fi in quite a few places.  That may be faster than the cell phone like technology that the Kindle uses.  However, I don’t think the downloads speed has been a main complaint with people for the Kindle.  Typically, the cell phone type network is going to have access in more places than wi fi (in the car, on public transit, in a park), but it may be a big help in your house if you don’t have the cell phone network.  Amazon can’t fix that without a hardware update.  Right now, the nook won’t go to other places besides the Barnes and Noble store…but they could change that with software

Overall, right now, the nook may appeal more to techies and gadget lovers…and that’s a pretty good place to be during the holidays.  The Kindle may continue to appeal more to readers.

Kindle for PC

This may be the most exciting development of the week for me.  It’s not quite here yet, but you’ll be able to read a Kindle book on a computer.  Why do I care about that?   Haven’t I said that the e-ink was one of the reasons for the success of the Kindle?  Yep: e-ink is a more satisfying reading experience, more like reading a book.

However, this will be a free download that lets anybody buy Kindle books.  That’s good for me as an author.  :)  If the free books from the Kindle store are available (and they probably will be), yow!  That means everybody with a computer (in the US…availability may be limited outside the US) and the right versions of Windows can get those classics.  They already can from other sites like Feedbooks and ManyBooks…but how many people are doing that?  Getting them from Amazon?  That’s going to be much more mainstream.  Another thing: reference books for the Kindle can have links to online video, streaming audio, and so on.  You’d read the book on the Kindle, but sync on over to the computer to see the more active content!  Cool!  Also, Amazon Director of Communciations Drew Herdener says apps for the Mac and the Blackberry are coming.

By the way, that’s a a major shift.  In the past, Amazon has been well-known for not talking about future developments.  Herdener has recently revealed that the international Kindle DX is coming in 2010, and this Mac and Blackberry thing.  Change in policy?  Maybe…

So, amazing week!  Can’t wait to see what the future brings…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

The Loyal Librarian and the King Who Was Never Satisfied

October 23, 2009

Once upon a time, there was a King who was never satisfied.

He ruled the kingdom of MorMorMoria.  Of course, its real name wasn’t MorMorMoria.  Many years ago, it had been called The Kingdom on the Moor.  However, the king was so very greedy, and always wanted “more, more, more” that everyone had begun calling it the Kingdom of MorMorMoria.  As we have already said, that wasn’t the real name.  The King had heard a court jester calling it MorMorMoria, and not getting the joke (for the trick of being a court jester is to make the king laugh without him understanding what you are really saying, while your audience does), decided it should be called

MorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMoria.

And so it was, although each year the King added another Mor for good measure.

One day, the King ordered his latest Grand Eloquent Superdee-Duper Councillor (she was new, because the King had not liked the last Grand Eloquent Superdee-Duper Councillor’s eyebrows) to fetch his Royal Librarian.

“Where is that librarian?  I never see him!”

“He is in the fourth library on the the fifty-seventh floor, your Grandi-Magnficant-Highest of the Highnesses.”

“In a library?  No wonder I never see him.  Fetch him at once!”

The GESDC ran out of the room at once and returned in seventeen seconds.

The King yelled, “What took you so long?”

“I’m sorry, your Highest of the Highnesses!”

“Grandi-Magnficant-Highest of the Highnesses!”

“Yes, your Grandi-Magnificant-Shining Beacon of Highestness!”

“Now you’ve made it too long.  You there!  Are you my Royal Librarian?”

“Yes, your highness.”  At this, the GESDC snuck out of the room.  It’s very unpleasant not to be able to please someone.

“How many libraries do I have?”

“Four-hundred and fifty-one, your highness.”

“How many…what do you call them…books do I have?”

“One million, three-hundred and twenty-four thousand, six hundred and twelve.”

“That isn’t enough!  I must get more enjoyment out of them!”

“Perhaps if your majesty read a few of them…”

“I don’t want to read them, I just want to own them!  How many more books are there in MorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMorMoria?”

He was so upset he added another Mor right on the spot.

“None, your highness.”

“NONE!”

“Yes, your highness.  You own them all.”

“I WANT MORE!  You must have those Arthurs write more at once.”

“There are no more authors, your highness.  Since they could not sell their books in this kingdom any more, for you took them all without paying, they have all left.”

“WHAT?!  You must go out into the land of Dissatisfactia and find me something new to read!”

While the Royal Librarian was not sure if the King was serious or not (he was not so good at reading people as he was at reading books), he was not only Royal but loyal as well.

So, the Loyal Librarian gathered a few favorite books and set off to explore the other Kingdoms in the land of Dissatisfactia to find something new for the King to read.

The first land he came to was Amazonia, a land of powerful warriors.

“Excuse me, do you have anything new to read?”

“We do!  Behold!”

It was a magic book!  The Loyal Librarian watched as book after book appeared out of the air!

“That is something new!  You must come back with me to show it to the King!”

The King of MorMorMoria was complaining about how long the microwave was taking to cook something when the Loyal Librarian returned with the Amazon and the Magic Book.

“Your majesty, I have returned with something new to read!”

“What?  Why?”

“You asked me to find something for you, your highness.”

“Oh, yes.  What have you brought me?”

“It is a magic book, your highness!  Books appear on it through the air!”

“That is something new!   You have done well.”

“Thank you, your majesty.”

“I want two!”

Fortunately, the Amazon had brought a second magic book, even larger than the first, and the King was pleased.

All might have gone well in the Kingdom of MorMorMoria, except for one thing. 

The King asked the Amazon to fetch his favorite book through the air.  Now, the King was not much of a reader, as you may have guessed.  His favorite book was one with many colorful pictures.

Unfortunately, the magic book could not show the colors in the colorful pictures.

“NO COLOR!  TAKE THIS FOUL USELESS THING AWAY!” bellowed the King.

Since it was less than thirty days, the Amazon took it back.

“Royal Librarian!  Find me a magic book with color!”

The Royal Librarian wasted no time in beginning his new quest.

He headed to a venerable kingdom, one that was well-known for books.  It was a land ruled by a farmer and twin princesses…a land of barns and nobles. 

“Excuse me,” said the Loyal Librarian, “do you have a magic book?”

“We do,” said the twin princesses.

“That’s wonderful!  You must come with me to show the King!”

The farmer said, “The princesses will go with you, because there are two of them, and our magic book has two screens.  I shall stay here and watch over our Kingdom.”

And so he did.

On the way back to MorMorMoria, the twin princesses told the Loyal Librarian of the wonders of their magic book.

When they entered the throne room, the King was demanding that there be at least three more hours in a day, and that the sun be made less bright.

“Your majesty, I have brought a magic book in color!”

You may have noticed that the Loyal Librarian did not use the grandiloquent titles for the King that the Grand Eloquent Superdee-Duper Councillor did.  The truth was that the King found it very difficult to pay any attention to someone with that much education.  As a result, he only caught every fourth or fifth word the Librarian said.

“LET US SEE IT AT ONCE!” roared the King.

The King examined the magic book.  It was indeed in color, but just a small portion of it.  However, the King only ever read a small portion of a book…in fact, he had great fun flipping through the colorful covers with just one finger.  That was the most reading the King had ever done.

The Librarian was overjoyed!

“That is not all…with our magic book, you can loan your books to others,” said the twin princesses.

“Why would I want to do a thing like that?!”

“So you can show them how many more books you have than they do?” quavered the princesses, quite taken aback by the King’s vehemence. 

“Oh, that would be fun!  But what if they don’t give them back?  Wars are such an eternal bother.”

“The books automatically disappear in fourteen days.”

“Whether they have finished them or not?  That is splendid!  I shall loan my cousin my favorite book right now!”

The princesses helped him, and the colorful story disappeared from the King’s magic book.

“WHERE DID IT GO?!?!”

“Oh, you can not have it at the same time as your cousin.”

“GET OUT!  GET OUT AT ONCE!  AND TAKE THIS ABOMINATION WITH YOU!”

And so it went.  For nearly thirty years, the Loyal Librarian went from kingdom to kingdom in the land of Dissatisfactia.  From each, he brought back a new and better magic book, and with each, the king would find fault.  After awhile, the Loyal Librarian would return to kingdoms from whence he had gotten magic books before, to find marvelous improvements, wonders the world had never seen!  Books that talked, books that sang, books that moved, books that knew just what you wanted to read, books that wrote themselves.

But still the King was not satisfied.

Finally, the Loyal Librarian, who had not been young when he first visited Amazonia, could go on no more.  He sat with his back against a tree.  With hands as gnarled as the roots of that mighty forest guardian, he painfully pulled a tattered old book from his pack.  It was torn and smudged, and one could barely make out the title of the book:

“The Kingdom on the Moor: a Hystory”

Though his eyes could barely focus on the page, he read himself to sleep…never to return to the castle again.

The King complained bitterly that he never got his perfect magic book, and in a fit of anger, burned all of the books in MorMorMoria.

That would have pained the Loyal Librarian, but he was not ever to hear about it.  He slept…and he was satisfied.

And the moral of the story is: enjoy what you have, for there is no treasure greater than contentment.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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