Archive for December, 2010

Flash! Kindle 3 now the bestselling item of all time on Amazon

December 27, 2010

Flash! Kindle 3 now the bestselling item of all time on Amazon

Amazon has just announced in this

press release

that the third generation Kindle is the best-selling product of all time at Amazon, surpassing the final Harry Potter book.

That’s extraordinary!  Remember that the Kindle 3s have only been shipping since the end of August of this year.  This isn’t combined for the Kindles…just these Kindle 3s.  They’ve sold more than any given book, any videogame, diapers, windshield wipers, you name it…at $139 or $189! 

The press release has a lot of other interesting information, including stats on sales. 

They also make a point that you can logically have an Android tablet (like an iPad) and a Kindle.  That’s another sign to me that they may launch their own Android tablet.  I’ve been suggesting the name the “Amazon Current”.  I like that for several reasons:

  • It makes it sound up-to-date and cutting edge
  • The Amazon is a river…it has currents
  • It suggest a large flow of information

I hope they wouldn’t call an LCD tablet a Kindle, but say it is “Kindle-Enabled” or something like that.  I think they would push it for streaming movies (from Amazon), MP3s, gaming…they do all that.  They haven’t announced one, but it would be really big news if they do.

Congratulations, Amazon, on bringing so many more people back to reading!

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

Freebie flash! Heidegger’s, Bone, Cafe, Club

December 27, 2010

 Freebie flash! Heidegger’s, Bone, Cafe, Club

As usual, I don’t vouch for these books, and they come from companies that are not (to my knowledge) blocking text-to-speech. As promotional titles, they may not be free for long. Note: these books are free in the USA: prices in other countries may vary.

The Crossroads Cafe
by Deborah Smith
published by BelleBooks (a publisher of “Southern Fried Fiction”)

This one is very strongly reviewed at Amazon (125 5-stars, 35 4-stars…out of 186 total).  It’s a romance…

Carved in Bone with Bonus Material
Body Farm #1
by Jefferson Bass
published by HarperCollins (a general interest publisher)

This is a pre-order, for January 1.  So, if you stay up and see in the new year, you can wake up in the morning (or afternoon), switch on your Kindle, and read a new freebie…without even getting out of bed.  :)  Bass is a forensic anthropologist, and has written several books.  This one started the series…and the bonus material will be from the upcoming new book in the series.

The Potluck Club
Potluck Club #1
by Linda Evans Shepherd
published by Revell (part of Baker, a faith-based publisher)

A Church group gets together regularly to share dishes and pray.  It’s listed as comic fiction (and religious fiction).  It also has recipes.

Heidegger’s Glasses
by Thaisa Frank
published by Counterpoint (a general interest publisher)

This is listed as literary fiction.  I’m not absolutely sure this is the right publisher, by the way…no search box on the site.  It’s about World War II novel…with a fantasy element.

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

News: “E-Book boom benefits Austin Company”

December 27, 2010

News: “E-Book boom benefits Austin Company”

KXAN.com:

E-Book boom benefits Austin Company

I’ve been looking a bit for a new way to let you know about interesting news pieces.

I used to link them on the website.  That didn’t work very well, actually, because it was a  little clunky to do and hard to maintain…and Kindle store subscribers didn’t see them.  It also didn’t give me much room to comment, when I wanted to do that.

I’ve been tending to tweet  articles, but again, that doesn’t get them to my Kindle store subscribers, and I’m very grateful to them.

So, here’s what I think I’ll try.  I’ve been moving the news links on to a special page at the website.  That’s taking some time, but I hope to get it done by the start of 2011 (although I’ve got a really busy week coming up).

I’ll send them out as blog posts.  The disadvantage of that, by the way, is that my Amazon Author Central page can only show the five most recent, and the Kindle subscribers see…I think, it’s the ten most recent.  I’ll try not to post more than one or two a day (and there certainly may be days in between news posts) 

Let me know what you think about this as we go forward.

Now, as to this particular story…

It’s about a company that digitizes books for seven of the ten largest publishers, according to the story.  It’s an interesting little piece: you can watch the local news video.

Here’s a little background:

LibreDigital  has worked with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and more to digitize their books.  They also do major newspapers and magazines.

 It’s worth making the point that some Kindle store books at Amazon aren’t proof-read very well, but that doesn’t tend to be the majors.  I wouldn’t paint this company with that brush.

They are also doing some of the important things going forward in e-book publishing…not exclusively, necessarily.  For example, they are doing the HTML5 SkyShelf, which is a web-e-books platform.  I think that’s part of the future.

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

Flash! Refurbed Kindle 2 US from Amazon for $109.99

December 26, 2010

Flash! Refurbed Kindle 2 US from Amazon for $109.99

Jump on this one!  Amazon is selling some refurbed Kindle 2’s (the 6″ model before the current one) at a great price: $109.99!

Refurbed Kindle 2 US

This one has the Sprint connection…that worked much better for me than the international edition’s AT&T, but that will vary.

This is unlikely to last long…good use for Amazon gift cards you got…you can always gift it or donate it.

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

First books for your Kindle

December 26, 2010

First books for your Kindle

You may have just gotten a Kindle…or maybe someone you know did.

It’s a great EBR (E-Book Reader)…but now you need something to read.  :)

While there are many very inexpensive books you can get for yourself, Amazon has also recently enabled gifting of Kinde books.

The Kindle store has about 800,000 titles. 

I thought I’d make some suggestions.  Of course, books are very personal…you can always just go with an Amazon gift card, and let the person pick out whatever they want. 

I’m going to stick with books from the Kindle store, to make it easy.

===

Classics Anthologies (multiple authors)

The Classic Mystery Collection $2.99 at time of writing

Over 100 titles: Sherlock Holmes; Father Brown; even Fu Manchu.  At $2.99, this is a real bargain.  You could certainly get these all for free, but it would be a lot of work.  The book has an Active Table of Contents (ATOC), meaning you can click on a title to jump to it.  You don’t have to be a mystery fan to like it (G.K. Chesterton has some great writing), and it isn’t all traditional mysteries.  It has to be noted that the “n word” does appear in some works, and there will be other things that will be considered insensitive by contemporary standards.

The Essential Classics Anthology (23 Books) $4.99 at time of writing

This one has a pretty good set of titles, and an ATOC.  There isn’t a single title here I wouldn’t consider a classic…although which ones are essential is a matter of taste, of course.  Treasure Island, Heart of Darkness, Moby Dick, Don Quixote…

Classic Horror Collection $4.69

This one is from my favorite publisher that does these anthologies, MobileReference.   They always have an ATOC, and a bit about the authors.  This collection has some great works: Frankenstein; Dracula; The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde; The Phantom of the Opera (which may be different than you expect); The Tell Tale Heart; The Great God Pan; and many more.

===

Classics Collections (single authors)

Complete Works of Jane Austen (Illustrated) $0.99

Still one of the most popular authors…

The Works of Talbot Mundy $1.99

Perhaps not a household name, but really, some of the best things I’ve read recently.  Jimgrim & Allah’s Peace may be the second best thing I’ve read this year.  It’s a bit like Kipling, but with a lot more knowledge of and sympathy for the local people…and King of the Khyber Rifles has some Robert E. Howard type magic thrown in there.  He’s ripe for rediscovery by a movie/TV series maker.

Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs $4.69

With a major Barsoom movie in the works for June of 2012 (the cast includes Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, and Thomas Haden Church), it’s a good time to read ERB, if you haven’t.  Of course, it’s always a good time for Tarzan, and I recommend The Monster Men (a one-off).  The collection includes some of his non-fantasy work, like The Efficiency Expert.

The Complete Wizard of Oz series $0.89

This is the original fourteen Oz books by L. Frank Baum (plus the first one by Ruth Plumly Thompson).  If you’ve never read these, I highly recommend them.  I actually don’t like the most famous one (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) as much as some of the others.  They are good for kids, of course, but if you like puns and fantasy, great for adults as well.  I particularly selected this version in part because it doesn’t contain the Woggle-Bug book.  While it was written by L. Frank Baum, it doesn’t really belong in the series.  It’s a “novelization” of a play, and it’s full of ethnic stereotypes.  It takes place in America, and doesn’t fit into the other books at all.

There are so many other great collections!  You can also get many of these free individually, but that’s a lot of work.  Getting any of the above will give you enough to read to get used to the Kindle, if you are new to it.  The large files give you less to manage on your Homescreen, but may also make it a bit harder to find things.

===

The Autobiography of Mark Twain

This was the best thing I’ve read this year (for second best, see above).  :)  It’s really key to skip right to the autobiography, though, using the table of contents.  Be aware that it’s also something like half of the book…the rest of it is notes and research points.  However, Twain’s writing is just so good that it’s worth that minor annoyance.  This book also illustrates some of the advantages of the Kindle.  It’s sold out in hardback right now…you can’t sell out of an e-book.  If you look at the reviews for the hardback, there are a lot of complaints: it’s too big to fit on a bookshelf (not a problem for an e-book); the text is too small (you can enlarge the text in the e-book); and it’s simply too large to handle (again, not a problem with an e-book).

===

Don’t miss out on all the promotional freebies!  I recommend using eReaderIQ. I will post freebies here as well, but it’s a good way to catch up on the hundreds of promotional titles (not public domain) that are currently available.

Do you have books you’d especially recommend people to get as their first Kindle books? Feel free to leave a comment.

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

I have a Kindle…now what? (2010)

December 25, 2010

I have a Kindle…now what? (2010)

This is an updated version of a post that first appeared in ILMK on December 25, 2009.  The changes reflect then new Kindle models introduced this year.

Welcome to the Klub!

If you just got a Kindle (as a gift, or maybe you bought it for yourself with or without gift certificates you got), this post is for you.  That’s not that it won’t help you veteran Kindleers (people who have Kindles…it’s like musketeers): it certainly may.

It’s just that I want to make some suggestions on “first steps”…that Quick Start guide is nice, but there is more you can do to get the most out of your Kindle.

NOTE: I am not addressing the Kindle 1 in this post.  It is no longer available new from Amazon, and the instructions would be quite different.  I will address the current Kindle 6″ (wifi or wifi & 3G) which I’m going to refer to as the Kindle 3, the 9.7″ Kindle DX, and the previous model, the Kindle 2 (which was briefly for sale on Black Friday this year).

Initial use

Kindles are very easy to use.   Your Kindle should have a User’s Guide and a dictionary on it (two dictionaries on the Kindle 3) when you get it.  You can start reading right away.  You probably won’t need to charge it first, although you might.

Your Kindle will probably be asleep.  For any Kindle, slide the power switch on the top of the Kindle (it’s on the bottom on the Kindle 3) to your right as you face the screen for about a second, then release.  It should wake up.

There is a home button on your righthand side.  Click that…the button pushes in on the side towards the middle of the Kindle, by the way…not the outer edge.  With the Kindle 3, it is a button on the keyboard, rather than on the edge of the Kindle.

You’ll see some “titles”.  Use your five-way (the little joy-stick like thing in the bottom right of the Kindle) to move up to a title.  I call that movement “flicking”, and you may find it easiest at first to use a fingernail, but you’ll get used to it quickly.  Click when you get to a title (push the 5-way down, like a regular button).  With a Kindle 3, you’ll have a little square with a raised edge.  Click on the edge to move in that direction.

The title will probably turn black for a split second, then the title will open.

You can now use NEXT PAGE and PREV PAGE buttons to move through the book.  When you stop using your Kindle, it will eventually go to sleep again.  That’s okay. 

That’s the basic operation.

Charging

It’s likely your Kindle already has somewhat of a charge when you get it.   When you wake it up, there is a battery indicator in your top right corner of the screen.  You’ll be able to tell if it’s getting down there…the battery will start looking “eaten away”. 

To charge your Kindle, you can do one of two things.

There is a cable that came with your Kindle.  It has a normal wall plug.  You can plug that into the wall, then plug the small end into the bottom edge of your Kindle (“Vulcan fork” side up). 

You can also charge the Kindle by plugging it into a powered USB (Universal Serial Bus) port on a computer.  You can slide the wall plug off the end of the cable…it’s easy, it will come right off.  That reveals the USB plug.  Plug the large end into your computer (on a laptop and generally, it will be Vulcan fork side up…if it doesn’t fit and you have a vertical port, just flip it over and try again…it should work easily).

With the USB, the Kindle will go into USB mode, and show you a Vulcan fork screen.  If it doesn’t do that, try a different USB port…they aren’t all powered the same way.

Note: Do not disconnect the Kindle while it is showing you the Vulcan fork screen. 

To disconnect your Kindle, you have a few choices.  If you are charging from a computer and you shut the computer down, the Kindle will go back to its normal display, and you can disconnect it.

With a PC, you need to “safely remove” the Kindle.  In the bottom right corner of your computer screen (near the clock), you will typically see a grey rectangle with a green arrow. You might need to click a left facing chevron (like an arrowhead without the stick) to see it. You may see a choice for a USB storage device. After you click on that one, it should show you a choice for the Kindle. If it tells you the Kindle can not be stopped at this time, don’t disconnect it.

With a Mac, you can throw the Kindle in the trash, or CTRL+Click the icon to get a choice to eject it.

Before you pay for your first book

There is an important decision to make before you start buying books.  You’ll be able to share books with other devices on your account.  So, the question is: do you have the Kindle registered to the account you want?  It’s great to have your family members, for example, on the same account so you can share Kindle store books for one purchase price.  Officially, you can’t merge accounts (although I’ve heard of exceptions being made).  If your Significant Other already has a Kindle, and then your Kindle is registered to a different account, you won’t have access to the SO’s previously purchased books…and your SO won’t have access to the books you buy.

You can register the Kindle to an account, download books, and deregister, but that is more complicated.

If you are on the same account, you will be able to see each other’s purchases, and the payments will come from the same source.  If you don’t have shared finances, that’s a possible concern, but it’s not that hard to handle.  See this previous post for more information.

Getting books

There are two real choices for getting books from the Kindle store.   You can shop directly from the Kindle, or you can shop from your computer. 

From the Kindle itself, you do Home-Menu-Shop in Kindle Store.  You’ll need to have the wireless connection for this to work…if you don’t have it turned on, the Kindle will give you a way to do that.

When you see a book that interests you, you can: buy it; get a free sample; or put it on a Wish List. 

When shopping from your computer, you can also choose to Transfer Via Computer.  If you do that, you’ll be able to download it to your computer, and then transfer it to your Kindle using your Kindle’s USB cord.

Your Kindle purchases will be charged to your 1-click method.  That is usually a credit/debit card.  However, if you’ve applied a gift certificate/card to your account, that balance will be drawn first until exhausted.

Fun things to do with your Kindle

Okay, now it’s time to start playing around with your Kindle.

  • Get free samples! 
  • Get free books!  There are about 16,000 of these in the Kindle store as I write this
  • Go to a website!  This may not really be fun, because it’s clunky, but it’s fun to see it work.  Home-Menu-Experimental-Basic Web.  There will be some included “bookmarks”, and you can start there
  • Have it read to you!  Open a book, and do Shift+Sym (the shift is the up arrow…these are the two corner buttons in the lowest row).  It will take a minute or so to start.  This feature may be blocked by a publisher.  When you done, hit Home. 

Traveling home

If you are traveling by plane, that’s fine.  Your Kindle can go through the x-ray machine (I’ve read many reports where that is fine).  If you feel more comfortable doing it, I think you’ll be able to have the screener hand exampine it.  The flight crew will probably want you to keep it off during take-off and landing.   You should have the wireless turned off (Home-Menu) during the flight, but you’ll still be able to read. 

Protect your Kindle

  • Keep it dry (a Ziploc bag will work for this)
  • Keep it a reasonable temperature
  • Record the serial number from the back somewhere…you can also see it by doing Home-Menu-Settings, Device Info
  • I recommend getting a recovery services sticker: see this previous post
  • Let it go to sleep, or put it to sleep by moving the power button to your right for a second.  It’s better not to keep turning it on and off
  • Get it a cover, in case you drop it

Trouble-shooting

Kindles tend to be pretty trouble-free, but problems do happen.  If something goes wrong:

  • Try a restart.  Disconnect it from any power source (wall or USB).  If it’s responding, do Home-Menu-Settings-Menu-Restart.  If it isn’t responding at all, hold the power button to your right for about twenty seconds, then let the Kindle restart
  • If you are having trouble with the Whispernet, try clearing your cookies and cache (in browser mode, hit Menu-Settings)
  • Read the User’s Guide.  You can read it on-line  even when your Kindle isn’t working
  • Ask the Amazon Community Kindle forum …you’ll get lots of help there
  • Ask me…you can leave a message for me in my forum at Amazon
  • Contact Amazon Customer Service

What’s next?

I’ve barely scratched the surface in this post!  You can go back through this blog (including searching it).  I’d consider subscribing to some of the Kindle blogs for more tips and tricks.  Again, I’d recommend the Amazon Kindle community…you can get suggestions from the folks there.

Enjoy!

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

New game: Choice of Broadsides

December 24, 2010

New game: Choice of Broadsides

Active content (mostly games)  is still a tiny amount of what is in the Kindle store, but my readers have asked me to tell them about any new games…so it may seem like more.  :)

The latest is a “text adventure” (sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure) called

Choice of Broadsides $4.99 at time of writing

It looks like the story takes place in the days of sailing warfare.

For information on other games for the Kindle, see the games category.

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

Flash! Scrabble updated

December 24, 2010

Flash! Scrabble updated

Thanks to luvreading on the Amazon Kindle community for the heads-up.

If you’ve previously purchased Scrabble for your Kindle, you can go to the

Product Page

and download version 1.1, which was released on December 19th.  It updates the graphics and contrast.

If you haven’t bought it yet, all games from EA (Electronic Arts) are half off until January 2, 2011.  It’s only $2.49 (instead of the usual $4.99).

Great little gift…or purchase for yourself as you might be exploring a new Kindle’s capabilities.

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

Freebie flash! Cookbooks, Cowboy, Sweetie, Slugger, and more

December 24, 2010

 Freebie flash! Cookbooks, Cowboy, Sweetie, Slugger, and more

As usual, I don’t vouch for these books, and they come from companies that are not (to my knowledge) blocking text-to-speech. As promotional titles, they may not be free for long. Note: these books are free in the USA: prices in other countries may vary.

Deadly Sanctuary
by Sylvia Nobel, Christy Moeller
published by Nite Owl (publishes Sylvia Nobel’s mystery novels)

Circle of Friends Cookbook – 25 Meatloaf Recipes
published by Gooseberry Patch (a publisher of country cookbooks)

Circle of Friends Cookbook – 25 Mac & Cheese Recipes
published by Gooseberry Patch (a publisher of country cookbooks)

Circle of Friends Cookbook – 25 Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes
published by Gooseberry Patch (a publisher of country cookbooks)

A Taste of Magic
by Tracy Madison
published by Love Spell (part of Dorchester, a publisher of romance, horror, Westerns, and thrillers)

Traitor’s Wife
by Susan Higgenbotham
published by Sourcebooks Landmark

Cowboy Trouble
by Joanne Kennedy
published by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Slave
by Cheryl Brooks
published by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Sweetie
by Kathryn Magendie
published by Bell Bridge Books (a publisher of “emerging fiction voices” with a Southern focus)

The Year She Fell
by Alicia Rasley
published by Bell Bridge Books (a publisher of “emerging fiction voices” with a Southern focus)

A Dog Named Slugger 
by Leigh Brill
published by Bell Bridge Books (a publisher of “emerging fiction voices” with a Southern focus)

Craving God eBook 
by Lisa Terkeurst
published by Zondervan (a faith-based publisher)

Pre-order January 3, 2011

Drop Dead: A Lawson Vampire bonus story
by Jon F. Merz
published by St. Martin’s Griffin (a contemporary fiction part of Macmilan)

Pre-order February 15, 2011

Sukkwan Island Free Novella with Bonus Material
by David Vann
published by HarperCollins (a general interest publisher)

Pre-order January 4, 2011

Romeo, Romeo
by Robin Kaye
published by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Millie’s Fling
by Jill Mansell
published by Sourcebooks Landmark

Cat Calls
by Cynthia Leitich Smith
published by Candlewick

Start to Love Not Smoking
by Ben (C) Fletcher (sic), Karen Pine
published by Hay House (a spiritual publisher)

Pre-order: January 4, 2011

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

A Kindle Carol, Part 3

December 24, 2010

A Kindle Carol, Part 3

This is the third part of a story inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  It originally appeared in ILMK on December 24, 2009.

This is part 3 (and the conclusion) of the story that had begun in this earlier post.

It was like being everywhere at once.

Warmth and sorrow, family and fear, here and there…it was all the same.  It seemed to flicker like an old nickelodeon…phft-phft-phft as each smallest split second changed to the next.

At first, Scrooge/Everything couldn’t focus.  It was one rush of feelings, emotions, thoughts, and nothing.  You couldn’t look anywhere in particular because wherever you looked, you saw something else…or was it the same thing?  You (and I) saw yourself (and it) whenever we/they tried.

Eventually (although it happened instantly), Scrooge/Everything became aware of scenes.  Not as things separate from himself or from each other, but as part of existence (and yet, the whole of it).

Scrooge felt the immersion of someone reading a book…how you enter the author’s universe, while still being part of yours.

He was a single mother, a soldier in Iraq, the captain of the high school football team, himself, a surgeon, a small child sleeping on a cement floor with five other siblings, a cat, a dog, a thought, a prayer, a kiss, a tear…a moment.

He became aware of the Cratchit family.  Bob was still at work…we had that meeting tonight.  He felt his (Bob’s?) wife’s resentment, but resignation at the same time.  Two young children, who he knew were the twins, were playing a videogame.  A third tiny youngster shouted encouragement. 

“Get him, Robby, get him!”

“I’ll get him, Tim.”

Scrooge knew there was nothing on the screen right then for Robby to get.  He was humoring Tim, who was blind.  His video self fired off a shot at the wall…the TV made the distinctive “pzzoo” sound of the ray rifle.

“Did you get him, Robby?”

“Sure did, Tim!  Sure did!”

The other gamer, a girl named Kelsea, rolled her eyes.  She didn’t really approve of lying, but it made Tim happy to be a part of the game.  She was itching to see the next level, and they weren’t going to have as good a chance of getting there if Robby kept wasting his ammunition charge like that.  Still, she figured it was worth it to see Robby high-five tiny Tim’s outstretched hand.

Buzz!

A voice came through the intercom.

“Mom, it’s me!”

Scrooge knew it was Martha, the oldest daughter.  “I’ll get it!”  Tim ran unerringly to the button and buzzed his sister up the stairs.

“Hey, Double-T!  I got you something!”

“Whatizitwhatizit?”

“Well, the teachers let us out early for Thanksgiving, and Ms. Ramirez dropped me off at the library–”

“Did you get me a book?”

“I did,” Martha said smiling.  “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”

“Oh boy, thanks!  What’s a pimplemill?”

Tim’s mother called from the kitchen.  “Pimpernel.  It’s a flower.”

“A flower?”  Tim was still holding out his hands to Martha.

“Not this Pimpernel, Double-T!  He’s a hero…with a secret identity and everything.”

“Like Daredevil?”

“Even better.  He saves people from the bad guys in old France.  If he didn’t, they’d cut off their heads!”

“Yaaaaay!  I’m going to go listen to it right now!  Thanks, Martha!”

Tim took the box of CDs that Martha slapped into his open hands and ran down to the room he shared with Robby and Kelsea.

“That was nice of you, Martha.”

“Well, Mom, Ms. Ramirez offered to drive me.  Mr. Cho brought turkey in for everybody, so I had enough lunch money left for the bus.  I can probably get one of the other kids to take it back.”

“Mom,” Kelsea said hesitantly, “Latella’s cousin is blind.  They don’t have to get books from the library…he gets all the audiobooks he wants sent to him for free.”

“That’s great, dear.  But to do that, you have to have a doctor certify you as blind as there is a lot of paperwork to fill out.”

Scrooge/Kelsea fell silent.  S/he knew that they couldn’t afford a doctor.  Scrooge/Mrs. Cratchit wished again that Bob had a job with full benefits.  She’d always wondered if little Tim’s eyesight could have been saved if they weren’t just going to the community clinic.  She knew it probably wouldn’t have made any difference, but she couldn’t help wondering.

“Mom, when is Dad going to get here?”

“I don’t know, Robby.  They have that annual marketing meeting tonight.”

“Dumb old Scrooge!”

“That’s Mister Scrooge, Robby…he is your father’s boss, after all.”

“I know.  I just hate that guy sometimes.  Why doesn’t Dad just quit and get a better job?”

“We don’t say hate in this house, you know that.  It’s not that easy, Robby.  It’s a hard time to find work out there.  Besides, your father likes working for Mr. Scrooge.”

Martha pouted.  “I don’t know why.  He treats him like dirt.  He doesn’t pay him anything, and he makes him work all the time.”

“I can’t say I really understand it either, dear, but it’s what your father wants.”

Scrooge suddenly found himself back in his office.  He was just himself again.  He was thinking about Bob, when a dark figure grabbed him by the wrist. 

“Wait!  Slow down”

The ghost of tomorrow did not wait…it never does. 

“Where are you taking me?”

Scrooge felt himself fall through the floors of the building.  He thudded on to the lobby floor.  Workers went past him, carrying chairs and tables.  They came out of the freight elevator, headed for a big truck on the street.

“Somebody must be moving,” thought Scrooge.

The spirit pointed to where the building receptionist was opening the glass case that contained the directory.  She slid out one of the printed names.

“Spirit, tell me…what is happening?”

The spirit continued to point.  The receptionist walked over to the garbage can where a security guard was standing.

The guard smiled at her.  “Well, that’s it, huh?  They are finally gone.”

“Well, it was only a matter of time, I guess.  I heard on the news that they went bankrupt.”

“Got any news on a new tenant?”

“It’s not that easy to fill a whole floor.  I’m guessing it will be awhile.”

She dropped the laminated name in the silver bin and walked back to her desk.

The spirit led Scrooge to the garbage can.  Scrooge stood, afraid to look inside, afraid at what he might see. 

“No, spirit, no!”

The spirit stood, immobile and impassionate.  Scrooge couldn’t help himself…he saw the J. Marley Publishing sign, with the logo of Jacob on it.

“Bankrupt!  It can’t be!  I won’t let it happen!  You…you wouldn’t show me this unless I could do something about it, right?  Jacob said it could change…he said I had a chance if I could learn something!  I’ve learned, spirit!  I’ve learned that books are books, whatever the format!  Its not the paper, it’s the words that matter!  And poor Tim Cratchit, and a million others like him!  We…I can help them!  Please, spirit, please!  Give me another chance!”

“Unca?  Are you alright?”

Scrooge found himself back in his office again. 

“You…you’re still here!  The business is still here!”

“Sure it is, Unc.  Geez, how long was I on that phone call, anyway?  So, you want to get back to that meeting?”

“Yes…yes, I do!  Cratchit!”

Bob was surprised to hear his boss yelling.

“Get in here.  No, wait, start some coffee first.  Nephew, tell me about those e-books.  I want to do them…I want to get started right away!  Make sure they have that read-aloud thing…that’s important!”

“Sure, Unc, that’s great!”

“Cratchit…Bob, I’ve decided you are going to get a bonus!”

“Uh..a bonus, sir?”

“Yep!  I’m getting everybody in your family a Kindle!  You tell Tim he can have all the books he wants, and you send me the bills.  When he gets done with The Scarlet Pimpernel, you tell him old Neezy wants to talk with him about it.”

“Yes sir!  Bless you, sir!”

Epilogue

Scrooge was never again troubled with spirits.  Jay-Em e-Romances were a permanent part of the bestseller lists, with the first one in the series  always being offered for free.  Martha Cratchit wrote a few herself, eventually become a successful author.  The company thrived, and the Greasy Cat Foundation, with Timothy Cratchit as its Executive Director, became a leader in providing free e-book readers to those in need. 

May we all learn from the past, savor the present, and build a future not just for us, but for others.

The End

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


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