Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Round up #256: 40% off any Zinio mag, $1.99 Brave New World

May 26, 2014

Round up #256: 40% off any Zinio mag, $1.99 Brave New World

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

KDD: Brave New World & BNW Revisited, $1.99 each

One of today’s

Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is one of the really classic dystopias, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for $1.99. They also have what isn’t really a sequel, but a sort of progress report on how much the real world had come to resemble the fictional one, Brave New World Revisited.

This is nice, too: you can get the audiobook of BNW also for $1.99 (if you buy the e-book)…and it is read by Michael York.

Oh, and BNW is currently in the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library)…might be a nice borrow some month, if it stays there.

As always, check the price before you click that “Buy” button…might not apply in your country.

$1.99 Memorial Day Sale

Amazon has 50 books in its

$1.99 Memorial Day Sale (at AmazonSmile)

It’s worth checking these out. There are books in Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series (Amazon publishes the e-books), for one thing. :)

40% off any subscription from Zinio for Memorial Day

I subscribe to Fortean Times through Zinio, and read it in the Zinio app on my  Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). I went to Zinio initially because Amazon didn’t have FT, but I do like the interface.

Through May 27th, they are having a 40% off any subscription sale. You need to enter the code MAY50 at check-out to get the discount.

Zinio

Military books in the Kindle store

I thought I’d give you a few links to military books (fiction and not) in the Kindle store, in honor of Memorial Day:

War fiction (at AmazonSmile)
Military Science Fiction (at AmazonSmile)
Military Romance (at AmazonSmile)
Military Thrillers (at AmazonSmile)
Military History (non-fiction) (at AmazonSmile
Military Science (non-fiction) (at AmazonSmile)

Enjoy!

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Mothers’ Day 2014 device sale

April 29, 2014

Mothers’ Day 2014 device sale

This is a big sale! I could say it’s a “mother of a sale”, but that might be a bit tacky. ;)

You can get a Kindle for under $50, a Paperwhite for under $100, a Fire for $119, and an HDX for under $200!

The amount of the discount varies by model, but these are all new from Amazon.

I don’t know how long the sale will last…but you don’t need to be buying one for a mother to get it. ;)

What’s not discounted? Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Kindle Paperwhite with 3G.

By the way, the Kindle DX is not available new directly from Amazon again…might be gone for good, but that’s always hard to tell.

Limit one to a customer on the above offers, I believe.

You may also want to get Mom an accessory. There is an additional 20% off on select Kindle accessories…although the sale doesn’t start until May 3 (and runs through May 11).

  • “On the product detail page for a Kindle Fire tablet or Kindle E-reader, under the “Add to Cart” button, check the box next to the discounted Kindle Accessories you wish to purchase. Accessories available at a discount will display discounted pricing next to the regular price. Click “Add to Cart” to add your selected accessories to your Shopping Cart along with the device.
  • Click “Proceed to checkout”.
  • The 20% discount will be applied to your Kindle Accessories.
  • Click “Place your order” by May 3, 2014 for Kindle E-readers and May 11, 2014 for Kindle Fire tablets and enjoy your savings.”

Accessory deal detail page (at AmazonSmile)

What if you don’t want to buy another Kindle right now?

You might want to

Create Your Own Kindle Accessories (at AmazonSmile)

You can upload your own image to be turned into a cover (or skin…the options vary)! That could be a great Mothers’ Day gift. They aren’t necessarily inexpensive, but this can make a truly unique gift. It could just be a theme picture, or it could be your mother’s favorite family picture…

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #246: Amazon AFD, $5 extra at AmazonSmile

March 27, 2014

Round up #246: Amazon AFD, $5 extra at AmazonSmile

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Extra $5 donation from AmazonSmile if you buy by 3/31

Wow!

This is a lot extra!

Normally, when you buy any eligible item at AmazonSmile, your chosen non-profit gets half of one percent of the purchase price.

Spend $100, and they get fifty cents.

With this bonus, it’s the equivalent of you spending $1000!

Here are the details:

  • One donation per customer.
  • Limited time offer. You must complete a purchase at smile.amazon.com including one or more items eligible for an AmazonSmile donation between 12:00 a.m. (PT) March 24, 2014 and 11:59 p.m. (PT) March 31, 2014. In addition, this promotion will expire after aggregate donations have reached $1 million.
  • The $5 donation will be made through the AmazonSmile program at smile.amazon.com under the same terms and at the same time as other donations made through the program, and will be in addition to the 0.5% donation made on the purchase price of your eligible item(s).
  • Offer valid for customers located and with billing addresses in the United States.
  • Offer may not be combined with other offers.
  • Amazon reserves the right to modify or cancel the offer at any time.
  • Offer is non-transferable and may not be resold.
  • If any of the products related to this promotion are returned, the donation will not be made.
  • If you violate any of the Terms and Conditions, the promotion will be invalid.
  • Void where prohibited.

Note that they will stop when they hit $1,000,000…so you’d better get shopping! :)

I already bought something, so my chosen non-profit has benefited.

For more information on AmazonSmile (including how to get your qualified non-profit into the program), see:

Smile.Amazon: support your favorite charity by shopping

Don’t Give Them Your Money Back

I suggested that some indies might want to promote using your overcharges from tradpubs (traditional publishers) settlement money to buy indie books…so you aren’t giving the money right back to the people who took too much in the first place. :)

Well, I did write about it here:

E-book settlements are here: “Don’t give them your money back”

and based on the comments, it seems to be getting some traction…Facebook, Twitter, that kind of thing. :)

You might be asking yourself, how can I find indie books to buy, if I want to do this?

Well, Amazon does have a storefront for

Kindle indie books (at AmazonSmile)

You can probably find something…they have gotten better at discovery on that page. They have top-rated, bestselling, new, and featured books, for one thing.

If you’d rather go with a well-known book, but still want to avoid the publishers that overcharged, you could get books published by Amazon. Amazon wasn’t (and wouldn’t have been) part of raising those prices.

For example, there are the

Thomas & Mercer (at AmazonSmile)

Those are mystery and suspense and include the original James Bond books by Ian Fleming and the 87th Precinct books by Ed McBain.

Books traditionally published by Amazon like that are often relatively inexpensive, and typically have the special features from Amazon (text-to-speech, lending, and so on).

I can tell you: the publishers who agreed to settle after being charged with overcharging (basically) would not be happy if you spent that money with Amazon! ;)

The next holiday is the Fourth of July…April Fool!

My first retail job (I eventually managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, among other things) was in a “joke shop” called The House of Humor.

I was really there as a make-up expert at Halloween. I did special effects type make-up in the theatre, so I could serve as an advisor to people (and a retail clerk).

Things would get crazy when I worked there at Halloween! We literally might have a line of 300 people waiting to get into the store.

They would come in ten at a time…and get five minutes to shop!

During that time, I would help them pick latex masks, costumes, and make-up…and we’d get them rung up and out right afterwards (they got five minutes, but they were in the store longer than that).

What fun that was!

One interesting thing that most people didn’t realize is that we had to order the “good” Halloween masks…in March. It takes a very long time for them to create the Don Post quality masks.

That’s why we’d always be out of something hot…

A few examples:

  • Darth Vader (almost nobody thought Star Wars was going to be a big success before it was released)
  • Miss Piggy
  • Coneheads

On the last one, it was actually possible to make something, if you were crafty enough, with liquid latex and a plastic football.

We were also happy that Howard the Duck (at AmazonSmile) could be sold as, you know, a duck. ;) That one did look good on paper in March, having George Lucas, Lea Thompson (hot from back to the future), and Thomas Dolby involved (and based on a Marvel comic…although that wasn’t as big a selling point back then as it is now).

I also remember one “oh oh” for somebody. This poor businessperson came into the store, with an “only slightly” faded red clown nose (drawn on with greasepaint), red cheeks, and red lips. You see, the person had taken greasepaint and drawn directly on their skin…not a good idea with red, especially (red stains the most). That person had a big presentation to do…and all I could really suggest was cover-up at that point.

We also sold all sorts of gags, including things like spaghetti forks (with a crank) (at AmazonSmile) and X-ray Spex (at AmazonSmile).

Well, if you want to get those sorts of things (or books about practical jokes), this year you can go to

Amazon’s April Fool’s Day store (at AmazonSmile)

It’s an interesting collection, including things like we sold, but also clothing, books, and gift cards for comedy clubs.

What do you think? Are you doing anything special with the money you got from the settlement? One of my readers got almost $100 back…how did you do? Do you have a great makeup/mask/costume story? Are you part of an organization that’s been helped by AmazonSmile? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

===

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

===

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

In honor of Pi Day: 14 trilogies

March 14, 2014

In honor of Pi Day: 14 trilogies

Today is March 14 (3.14), which is recognized as “Pi Day”. :)

http://www.piday.org/

You see, 3.14 (and an infinite number of digits more…I remember as much as 3.14159 offhand) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and March is the third month of the year, so in the USA, we say it is 3/14 today (which, as three fourteenths, would really be 0.2142857), even though in most of the world they put the day before the month (which makes sense: they do “little middle big”…why do we do “middle little big?”), and…never mind. ;)

I wanted to do something connected to it, and three is also a big number in literature…so I figured if I listed fourteen trilogies, that would work.

A “trilogy” of books is three novels (I’m going to stick with fiction) that go together. They often have a throughline arc…the story starts in the first one, develops in the second, and ends in the third…but it doesn’t always work quite that way.

Not surprisingly, the third one is often people’s least favorite. Endings are hard! I remember, when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, somebody asking me what I thought of Stephen King’s

It (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I said something like, “The first twelve hundred pages are great…”

;)

Culture does like threes. :) There are the Three Stooges, the Three Fates, the Three Musketeers, and the Three Little Pigs, to name a few…

As I’m picking these, I’m not trying to choose the “best” (always subjective), or even the best-known. I’m going to look for an interesting mix. My main criteria are that they are in the (USA) Kindle store and they don’t block text-to-speech access**. It’s possible that there are more than three books…for example, The Hobbit won’t disqualify The Lord of the Rings, which may be what comes first to many people’s minds in terms of trilogies (and what perhaps inspired quite a few other fantasy/science fiction publishers to plan on trilogies).

One more thing: is it better to get all three in one title, if you can, or get them separately? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. It is sometimes (but not always) cheaper to get an omnibus (“bundle”). However, the file is larger, and documentation can be more confusing. If you highlight something in an omnibus, it tells you it came from that omnibus…not from the individual title. My preference in listing here is going to be the omnibus, when possible…I like the convenience of that.

The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (at AmazonSmile)
by J.R.R. Tolkien
4.6 out of 5 stars, 3,075 customer reviews
Included: The Fellowship of the Ring; The Two Towers; The Return of the King
1220 pages listed for paper edition
$10.99 at time of writing

Fifty Shades Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)
by E.L. James
4.3 stars, 8,716 reviews
Included: Fifty Shades of Grey; Fifty Shades Darker; Fifty Shades Freed
1501 pages
$14.99

Gee, there are more then twice as many reviews for this trilogy as for LotR…I guess you could say that, in that category, Fifty Shades has the Lord of the Rings, um, “whipped”. ;)

The Hunger Games Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)
by Suzanne Collins
4.7 stars, 6,993 reviews
Included: The Hunger Games; Catching Fire; Mockingjay
1,187 pages
$17.99

Kristin Lavransdatter (at AmazonSmile)
by Sigrid Undset
4.6 stars, 112 reviews
Included: The Wreath; The Wife; The Cross
1168 pages
$16.14

Undset won a Nobel Prize in literature in 1928, in part on the basis of these historical novels.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)
by Stieg Larsson
4.6 stars, 851 reviews
Included: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Girl Who Played with Fire; The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
570 pages
$24.99

I haven’t read these…are they actually that short?

The Providence Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)
by Jamie McGuire
4.5 stars, 415 reviews
Included: Providence; Requiem; Eden
857 pages
$9.99

Independently published paranormal romance…well-reviewed and inexpensive.

Star Wars: Trilogy (25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition) (at AmazonSmile)
by George Lucas, Donald F. Glut, James Kahn
4.6 stars, 36 reviews
Included: Star Wars: A New Hope; Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back; and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
870 pages
$11.84

Yes, George Lucas was the credited author on the first novelization of the first (released) Star Wars novel. :)

The Century Trilogy (no omnibus available)
by Ken Follett

The New York Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)
by Paul Auster
4.0 stars, 136 reviews
Included: City of Glass; Ghosts; The Locked Room
390 pages
$10.99

Mysteries…sort of. These are a bit more surreal than you might imagine.

The Forsyte Saga (at AmazonSmile)
by John Galsworthy
4.5 stars, 53 reviews
Included: The Man of Property; In Chancery; To Let
912 pages
$8.79

In what may seem rather modern to some, these 1920s novels also have two short stories (“interludes”) which bridge them.

The Divergent Series Complete Collection (at AmazonSmile)
by Veronica Roth
4.3 stars, 590 reviews
Included: Divergent; Insurgent; Allegiant
859 pages
$14.99

The first book is soon to be “a major motion picture”…could possibly be one of the big movies of the year.

His Dark Materials Omnibus (at Amazon Smile)
by Philip Pullman
4.1 stars, 1,315 reviews
Included: The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass
946 pages
$16.06

It’s already been a not-so-major motion picture ;), but that shouldn’t put you off the books.

Henry VI: Parts One, Two, and Three (at AmazonSmile)
by William Shakespeare
5 stars, 1 review (for this edition)
608 pages
$5.98

In case you thought trilogies only went back a few decades…

The Oedipus Trilogy: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone (at AmazonSmile)
by Sophocles
3 stars, 1 review (for this edition)
300 pages
$0.99

In case you thought trilogies only went back a few centuries…

;)

Enjoy!

You may have others you’d like to mention…feel free to do so by commenting on this post. By the way, before it comes up: Douglas Adams calling the Hitchhiker series a “trilogy” was sort of a joke. ;)

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. You can also now recommend a child to be the recipient.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Happy my birthday, 2014!

February 12, 2014

Happy my birthday, 2014!

February 12th is my birthday, and continuing a tradition, I’m giving you presents!

This is to thank you for making another year of my life richer. I have a lot of fun writing this blog, and I sometimes get to help people…and what could be better than that?

Part of KDP Select (the program through which users of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing make books available for eligible Prime members to borrow through the KOLL…Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) is the ability to make books free for five days (they need not be consecutive) in a ninety-day period.

Please check that a title is free for you before buying it.

I have asked Amazon to make them free on February 12, but I can’t say exactly when it will happen. I think they may also only be free to customers in the USA.

Some might be fun to give as a little Valentine’s Day present…you can buy it today as a gift, and schedule delivery for the 14th.

So, you can click on the titles before, but please make sure it is free when you click the 1-click buy button.

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

When this one was first published in December of 2012, it was the number one bestselling book of quotations at Amazon…including paper! That didn’t last long, but it was fun while it did. :)

Love Your First Generation Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet (at AmazonSmile)

This one has been a bestseller. It was written before the Kindle Fire HDs and HDXs, so it doesn’t match up exactly with those. If you do have the first generation Fire, though, I think you’ll find it useful.

The Kindle Kollection: Three Early Books about the Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

This one combines the three below into one volume:

* ILMK! (I Love My Kindle): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor
* Free Books for Your Kindle
* Frequently Asked Kindle Questions

ILMK! (I Love My Kindle!): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor (Revised Edition) (at AmazonSmile)

This has some fun stuff…and other things that are out of date. If you want The Happy Little Bookworm, this one has it. :)

The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1 (at AmazonSmile)

This is the first 101 posts in this blog. :) I did 101 posts so I wouldn’t cut off Doctor Watson’s Blog: A Kindle Abandoned (which is a four-part story). I’m coming up on the five year anniversary of the blog, and I’m considering doing a “best of” book. I’d include the posts that are less time-dependent, I think…if you have any opinions on ones that you remember, feel free to let me know.

Remember, double-check that they are  free to make sure before buying.

Happy birthday! ;)

I also wanted to add something different to the post this year. I suppose I can’t help being a little reflective on my birthday, and I was just thinking…

If I wasn’t a reader…

…more people at work would understand me, because I wouldn’t offhandedly drop a 19th-century term into a conversation

…we would have bought a smaller house (we bought an extra bedroom just to be a floor to ceiling library)

…people wouldn’t keep asking me how to spell things

…I wouldn’t mispronounce words as much (because, as I told the parent of a child who mispronounced something in the brick and mortar bookstore I managed, that’s the sign of a reader…it means you’ve read the word, but you’ve never heard it said)

…I would never have been to Oz, or Narnia, or Barsoom

…I wouldn’t have learned to speak Mangani (the language the “great apes” in Tarzan speak…I used to know all of the original words)

…I wouldn’t have become the Education  Director of a non-profit corporation (I was reading a magazine that happened to do with the focus of the group when I was in a park, and one of the members approached me)

…I would have needed one less suitcase when I traveled pre-Kindle

…I wouldn’t have had the example of Doc Savage to help make me a better person

…I wouldn’t spell something the British way and some things the American way

…I wouldn’t be nearly as good as I am at Jeopardy (and trivia)

…We wouldn’t have friends who swore they would never help us move again

…I wouldn’t be a writer

…I wouldn’t be me

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

A Halloween classic to read aloud

October 31, 2013

A Halloween classic to read aloud

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.

Some of you may have recognized this post from previous years…yeah, ILMK has been around long enough to have annual traditions.  ;)

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

Round up #215: So long, Sony, and tradpubs won’t guarantee print?

October 28, 2013

Round up #215: So long, Sony, and tradpubs won’t guarantee print?

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later. 

Oh…your question isn’t about Adobe Flash

A poster, with a likely intent to be funny and an apparently fictitious name, asked an interesting question in this

Amazon Kindle Forum thread

While the post used an arguably offensive reference (in which you refer to an adult as a child, in order to diminish their status), it posits this significant question:

What happens if someone behaves inappropriately with a Mayday rep? Specially, “flashes” that person?

I do think that Amazon opened the door to this sort of speculation a bit through the nature of the commercials. It’s hard not to describe the caller’s action as flirtatious (although the tech rep behaves professionally).

The first answer to the question is that, while you can see the tech rep, they can’t see you (by default). I’m sure many calls will be made with the caller in a state of dishabille which wouldn’t happen at your local Genius Bar. ;) It will be fine to call Mayday while you are in the bathtub, for example, which may happen.

However, there are a lot of ways someone could behave inappropriately, even perhaps criminally…I’m hoping Amazon has made some preparations for this (both procedurally and in training for the Mayday reps).

One issue is that the Mayday rep can see what is on your screen. Someone could call (arguably legitimately) because their streaming porn has frozen on the screen. In that case, the tech rep would see the pornographic images. I don’t think the customer would be in trouble in that case, but Amazon hypothetically could be if that risk is not explained to the reps.

More troublesome would be the customer using the built-in camera to show video of themselves while the Mayday rep was on the screen. If that video consisted of “lewd and lascivious” behavior, which could be combined with threats, there could be an issue.

In that case, I would imagine that the customer could be criminally liable (and the call might be recorded…customers are warned about that).

Even if there wasn’t legal action taken, Amazon could, hypothetically, drop that person as a customer. That is not something that they do lightly, but it is something they have reportedly done in the past. One of the things that would happen, in that case, is that you would not have access to content stored in your Amazon archives/Cloud.

Again, my hope here is that Amazon has provided training for the reps in how to react in those situations, and has protocols already in place for what the company will do. If they don’t have that, they are opening themselves up for employee legal action.

Things in business are never as simple as they might seem at first, but it is possible to consider the ramifications of your actions and prepare for them.

Four…three…two…one…Matchbook!

The countdown to the launch of

Kindle Matchbook

Kindle Matchbook continues, with quite a few Kindle Forum posts asking when it is going to happen. That indicates significant interest.

Well, “countdown” isn’t accurate, because you can’t have a countdown without knowing where the end point is. ;)

Amazon has said that the program, which allows the discounted purchase of some e-books when you have purchased the p-book (paperbook) from Amazon in the past, will launch “in October”.

Counting today, there are four days left.

It could happen any time (I have it open in a browser tab, and keep refreshing). Tuesday is possible: that’s a big day for announcements and releases in publishing.

On the other hand, they could definitely do a “soft launch”, not really making a big announcement right away. This might place some stresses on Amazon’s systems, depending on how many people take how much advantage of it right away. It might be better if it happened in dribs and drabs first, so they can almost pilot it and see how it works. It wouldn’t surprise me if people get e-mails giving them access, and that those are staged, prior to a full launch (I would expect the latter to be before November 1st, though).

The other thing is that it is to Amazon’s advantage to have a lot of well-known books in there initially, and at the best possible prices, to get the most publicity out of it. They may be negotiating right up to the last minute.

As I said before, whether a book is in the program or not is really up to Amazon, not the publisher. Amazon may be trying to get the publishers to agree to accept less money for the books in exchange for them being in the program, and that may take some real arguing.

We’ll see it before November 1st, unless something really goes wrong…but there are reasons you could see it today in an e-mail, or that no one would see it before Halloween.

Speaking of Halloween…

Amazon has a lot going on for one of my favorite holidays. :) There are temporary categories which appear, and this is one of them:

Children’s Halloween Books

There are many Kindle editions listed there, although they aren’t necessarily on sale.

For that matter, they have a whole

Halloween Shop

sponsored by Hershey’s.

Isn’t it interesting that Amazon has a store section “sponsored” by another business? That certainly doesn’t mean that only Hershey’s products are available in it (there are movies, decor, music, and more…yes, including candy, but not just Hershey’s candy…although the latter does have a 30% discount deal, and yes, you can get it by Halloween). Hershey’s is paying Amazon money to be mentioned on their site…even though it may drive business to competitors. Oh, and I do like that you can select “vegetarian” as a filter. :)

Publishers Weekly: “For Major Pubs, Will Print No Longer Be the Norm?”

This is an interesting

Publishers Weekly article by Rachel Deahl

The basic premise of the article is that traditional publishers may no longer guarantee a print edition when a book is signed. The publisher will make that determination.

While they weren’t able to really back it up with any proof that it is happening, it appeared to be a concern of agents.

I can certainly understand publishers wanting that option. These deals can be made some time in advance of the actual publication…and conditions could change enough so that a print edition wouldn’t make sense, when an e-book still would.

Tradpubs’ (traditional publishers’) real power area is still p-books, though: that’s one area where they have distribution and promotion advantages over independents. They have to really regauge to show those same sorts of advantages for e-books. That means, they’ll have to show caution in this, that they don’t let an individual deal overpower the long term goals.

“DISCONTINUED: CONTACT US FOR OTHER OPTIONS”

Sony was ahead of Amazon in getting into the EBR (E-Book Reader) market in the USA…and it appears that they have now abandoned it.

Following a heads-up from

MobileRead

I went to the Sony site. I used a link which used to take me to their EBRs, but it just took me to the first page.

Searching for “e-book”, I only found a gift card for their e-book store, which does still exist at

https://ebookstore.sony.com/

I decided to search for “reader”, and that’s when I found the listings.

All of the EBRs had the language I used for the headline here…they said that they were discontinued (this would be for the USA).

They aren’t the first EBR manufacturer to get out of the market, but they used to be one of the big players (even though they never seemed to me to put much effort behind it).

People liked the product, but you did seem to pay the “Sony tax” for the name (in other words, they were priced higher).

Guess I’ll be pulling the link from the ILMK blogsite to Sony EBRs…

What do you think? Will Amazon see complaints of “hostile working environments” from Mayday reps? Do you consider referring to an adult with a term used for a child offensive, or okay, or does it depend? Did/do you own a Sony EBR? Are you still going to order things online for Halloween? How much are you looking forward to Kindle Matchbook? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Giving thanks 2012

November 22, 2012

Giving thanks 2012

In the USA (where I live), today is Thanksgiving. I thought I’d mention some of the things in the world of e-books and Kindles for which I’m thankful this year. Of course, outside of that, there are many thinks for which I’m truly grateful (including my family and my job), and I tend to generally think things are good. However, narrowing down the focus will make for a better and more useful post for you. ;) I hope you all have things for which you are thankful, and if you don’t, that you will soon.

I’m thankful for…

  • Being able to stop text-to-speech on my Kindle Fire HD 7″ just by hitting the power button and rotating the device a quarter turn. I know that seems weird, but it means I can easily turn it off as I get out of the car
  • How my Flipboard morning read gives me that old newspaper sense of discovery, and shows me so many interesting stories
  • Increasable text size on all of my Kindles…there was a time I wouldn’t have imagined how much that would matter
  • The comfortable feel of the frontlighting on my Kindle Paperwhite, which gives me the best reading experience I’ve ever had, including paperbooks
  • Readers who take the time to comment, especially when they respectfully disagree with me. They sometimes give me important heads-ups for news stories, and sometimes just get me to see something in a different way
  • Dabble…oh, the hundreds of games I’ve played! Due to the quirky nature of the words that it accepts, there is often a fun discovery for me…it doesn’t take “id”, but it takes “IOU”? That amuses me
  • That Amazon lets us install third-party apps on our Kindles. Zinio has given me one of my favorite paper magazines in a much easier format. I use the Maxthon browser (not yet in the Amazon Appstore for the Kindle Fire HD) much more than Silk, and Amazon makes implementing that choice not complicated
  • The Kindle forums! I’m able to help many people there, and that’s a great feeling for me
  • Kindle Direct Publishing: I would never have been able to publish a book of quotations traditionally, and while I’m still working on updating it (I’m adding a lot of cross-referencing) and it’s taking too much of my time and attention right now (when I probably should be writing some sort of guide to the Kindle Fire HD, which would be popular), it’s a passion project…and there’s nothing wrong with that ;)
  • The ability to get to my highlights online at http://kindle.amazon.com…that makes things so much easier
  • Being able to use my Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 with my Kindle Fire HD! That’s a wonderful thing, and I’m thankful that Amazon fixed a glitch with an update that had made it repeat numbers…now, it’s a practical way to write using my Fire
  • Open Road Media for bringing us well-known books without text-to-speech access blocked, and to Amazon for including them in discounted deals
  • The US Department of Justice, for bringing a legal action that is ending the Agency Model…not all of it so far, but they have made progress, and it’s not over yet
  • Jeff Bezos…for having enthusiasm, innovation, and leadership
  • Amazon’s incredible customer relationship team, which so often provides such personal attention

I could keep going, but I want to make sure I thank you, the readers (and especially the subscribers). You not only make all of this possible for me, but you make it so much more valuable. You are, honestly  the main reason I do this…I love to hear from you, to learn from you, and to just know you are out there.

Best to you and yours today and throughout the year!

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

A Halloween classic to read aloud

October 31, 2012

A Halloween classic to read aloud

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.

Some of you may have recognized this post from previous years…yeah, ILMK has been around long enough to have annual traditions.  ;)

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

In honor of the 4th of July: Teddy Roosevelt’s “Books for Holidays in the Open”

July 4, 2012

In honor of the 4th of July: Teddy Roosevelt’s “Books for Holidays in the Open”

The Fourth of July holiday is a celebration of the United States of America, and our Presidents form part of that history. TR is thought of as a man of action, and indeed he was. However, he was also a book lover (including poetry), and a prolific author.

This is chapter nine of A Book-Lover’s Holidays in the Open, originally published in 1916.

===

BOOKS FOR HOLIDAYS IN THE OPEN

I am sometimes asked what books I advise men or women to take on holidays in the open. With the reservation of long trips, where bulk is of prime consequence, I can only answer: The same books one would read at home. Such an answer generally invites the further question as to what books I read when at home. To this question I am afraid my answer cannot be so instructive as it ought to be, for I have never followed any plan in reading which would apply to all persons under all circumstances; and indeed it seems to me that no plan can be laid down that will be generally applicable. If a man is not fond of books, to him reading of any kind will be drudgery. I most sincerely commiserate such a person, but I do not know how to help him. If a man or a woman is fond of books he or she will naturally seek the books that the mind and soul demand. Suggestions of a possibly helpful character can be made by outsiders, but only suggestions; and they will probably be helpful about in proportion to the outsider’s knowledge of the mind and soul of the person to be helped.

Of course, if any one finds that he never reads serious literature, if all his reading is frothy and trashy, he would do well to try to train himself to like books that the general agreement of cultivated and sound-thinking persons has placed among the classics. It is as discreditable to the mind to be unfit for sustained mental effort as it is to the body of a young man to be unfit for sustained physical effort. Let man or woman, young man or girl, read some good author, say Gibbon or Macaulay, until sustained mental effort brings power to enjoy the books worth enjoying. When this has been achieved the man can soon trust himself to pick out for himself the particular good books which appeal to him.

The equation of personal taste is as powerful in reading as in eating; and within certain broad limits the matter is merely one of individual preference, having nothing to do with the quality either of the book or of the reader’s mind. I like apples, pears, oranges, pineapples, and peaches. I dislike bananas, alligator-pears, and prunes. The first fact is certainly not to my credit, although it is to my advantage; and the second at least does not show moral turpitude. At times in the tropics I have been exceedingly sorry I could not learn to like bananas, and on round-ups, in the cow country in the old days, it was even more unfortunate not to like prunes; but I simply could not make myself like either, and that was all there was to it.

In the same way I read over and over again “Guy Mannering,” “The Antiquary,” “Pendennis,” “Vanity Fair,” “Our Mutual Friend,” and the “Pickwick Papers”; whereas I make heavy weather of most parts of the “Fortunes of Nigel,” “Esmond,” and the “Old Curiosity Shop”—to mention only books I have tried to read during the last month. I have no question that the latter three books are as good as the first six; doubtless for some people they are better; but I do not like them, any more than I like prunes or bananas.

In the same way I read and reread “Macbeth” and “Othello”; but not “King Lear” nor “Hamlet.” I know perfectly well that the latter are as wonderful as the former—I wouldn’t venture to admit my shortcomings regarding them if I couldn’t proudly express my appreciation of the other two! But at my age I might as well own up, at least to myself, to my limitations, and read the books I thoroughly enjoy.

But this does not mean permitting oneself to like what is vicious or even simply worthless. If any man finds that he cares to read “Bel Ami,” he will do well to keep a watch on the reflex centres of his moral nature, and to brace himself with a course of Eugene Brieux or Henry Bordeaux. If he does not care for “Anna Karenina,” “War and Peace,” “Sebastopol,” and “The Cossacks” he misses much; but if he cares for the “Kreutzer Sonata” he had better make up his mind that for pathological reasons he will be wise thereafter to avoid Tolstoy entirely. Tolstoy is an interesting and stimulating writer, but an exceedingly unsafe moral adviser.

It is clear that the reading of vicious books for pleasure should be eliminated. It is no less clear that trivial and vulgar books do more damage than can possibly be offset by any entertainment they yield. There remain enormous masses of books, of which no one man can read more than a limited number, and among which each reader should choose those which meet his own particular needs. There is no such thing as a list of “the hundred best books,” or the “best five-foot library.”

Dozens of series of excellent books, one hundred to each series, can be named, all of reasonably equal merit and each better for many readers than any of the others; and probably not more than half a dozen books would appear in all these lists. As for a “five-foot library,” scores can readily be devised, each of which at some given time, for some given man, under certain conditions, will be best. But to attempt to create such a library that shall be of universal value is foreordained to futility.

Within broad limits, therefore, the reader’s personal and individual taste must be the guiding factor. I like hunting books and books of exploration and adventure. I do not ask any one else to like them. I distinctly do not hold my own preferences as anything whatever but individual preferences; and this chapter is to be accepted as confessional rather than didactic. With this understanding I admit a liking for novels where something happens; and even among these novels I can neither explain nor justify why I like some and do not like others; why, among the novels of Sienkiewicz, I cannot stand “Quo Vadis,” and never tire of “With Fire and Sword,” “Pan Michael,” the “Deluge” and the “Knights of the Cross.”

Of course, I know that the best critics scorn the demand among novel readers for “the happy ending.” Now, in really great books—in an epic like Milton’s, in dramas like those of Æschylus and Sophocles—I am entirely willing to accept and even demand tragedy, and also in some poetry that cannot be called great, but not in good, readable novels, of sufficient length to enable me to get interested in the hero and heroine!

There is enough of horror and grimness and sordid squalor in real life with which an active man has to grapple; and when I turn to the world of literature—of books considered as books, and not as instruments of my profession—I do not care to study suffering unless for some sufficient purpose. It is only a very exceptional novel which I will read if He does not marry Her; and even in exceptional novels I much prefer this consummation. I am not defending my attitude. I am merely stating it.

Therefore it would be quite useless for me to try to explain why I read certain books. As to how and when, my answers must be only less vague. I almost always read a good deal in the evening; and if the rest of the evening is occupied I can at least get half an hour before going to bed. But all kinds of odd moments turn up during even a busy day, in which it is possible to enjoy a book; and then there are rainy afternoons in the country in autumn, and stormy days in winter, when one’s work outdoors is finished and after wet clothes have been changed for dry, the rocking-chair in front of the open wood-fire simply demands an accompanying book.

Railway and steamboat journeys were, of course, predestined through the ages as aids to the enjoyment of reading. I have always taken books with me when on hunting and exploring trips. In such cases the literature should be reasonably heavy, in order that it may last. You can under these conditions read Herbert Spencer, for example, or the writings of Turgot, or a German study of the Mongols, or even a German edition of Aristophanes, with erudite explanations of the jokes, as you never would if surrounded by less formidable authors in your own library; and when you do reach the journey’s end you grasp with eager appetite at old magazines, or at the lightest of literature.

Then, if one is worried by all kinds of men and events—during critical periods in administrative office, or at national conventions, or during congressional investigations, or in hard-fought political campaigns—it is the greatest relief and unalloyed delight to take up some really good, some really enthralling book—Tacitus, Thucydides, Herodotus, Polybius, or Goethe, Keats, Gray, or Lowell—and lose all memory of everything grimy, and of the baseness that must be parried or conquered.

Like every one else, I am apt to read in streaks. If I get interested in any subject I read different books connected with it, and probably also read books on subjects suggested by it. Having read Carlyle’s “Frederick the Great”—with its splendid description of the battles, and of the unyielding courage and thrifty resourcefulness of the iron-tempered King; and with its screaming deification of able brutality in the name of morality, and its practise of the suppression and falsification of the truth under the pretense of preaching veracity—I turned to Macaulay’s essay on this subject, and found that the historian whom it has been the fashion of the intellectuals to patronize or deride showed a much sounder philosophy, and an infinitely greater appreciation of and devotion to truth than was shown by the loquacious apostle of the doctrine of reticence.

Then I took up Waddington’s “Guerre de Sept Ans”; then I read all I could about Gustavus Adolphus; and, gradually dropping everything but the military side, I got hold of quaint little old histories of Eugene of Savoy and Turenne. In similar fashion my study of and delight in Mahan sent me further afield, to read queer old volumes about De Ruyter and the daring warrior-merchants of the Hansa, and to study, as well as I could, the feats of Suffren and Tegethoff. I did not need to study Farragut.

Mahaffy’s books started me to reread—in translation, alas!—the post-Athenian Greek authors. After Ferrero I did the same thing as regards the Latin authors, and then industriously read all kinds of modern writers on the same period, finishing with Oman’s capital essay on “Seven Roman Statesmen.” Gilbert Murray brought me back from Greek history to Greek literature, and thence by a natural suggestion to parts of the Old Testament, to the Nibelungenlied, to the Roland lay and the chansons de gestes, to Beowulf, and finally to the great Japanese hero-tale, the story of the Forty-Nine Ronins.

I read Burroughs too often to have him suggest anything save himself; but I am exceedingly glad that Charles Sheldon has arisen to show what a hunter-naturalist, who adds the ability of the writer to the ability of the trained observer and outdoor adventurer, can do for our last great wilderness, Alaska. From Sheldon I turned to Stewart Edward White, and then began to wander afar, with Herbert Ward’s “Voice from the Congo,” and Mary Kingsley’s writings, and Hudson’s “El Ombu,” and Cunningham Grahame’s sketches of South America. A re-reading of The Federalist led me to Burke, to Trevelyan’s history of Fox and of our own Revolution, to Lecky; and finally by way of Malthus and Adam Smith and Lord Acton and Bagehot to my own contemporaries, to Ross and George Alger.

Even in pure literature, having nothing to do with history, philosophy, sociology, or economy, one book will often suggest another, so that one finds one has unconsciously followed a regular course of reading. Once I travelled steadily from Montaigne through Addison, Swift, Steele, Lamb, Irving, and Lowell to Crothers and Kenneth Grahame—and if it be objected that some of these could not have suggested the others I can only answer that they did suggest them.

I suppose that every one passes through periods during which he reads no poetry; and some people, of whom I am one, also pass through periods during which they voraciously devour poets of widely different kinds. Now it will be Horace and Pope; now Schiller, Scott,  Longfellow, Körner; now Bret Harte or Kipling; now Shelley or Herrick or Tennyson; now Poe and Coleridge; and again Emerson or Browning or Whitman. Sometimes one wishes to read for the sake of contrast. To me Owen Wister is the writer I wish when I am hungry with the memories of lonely mountains, of vast sunny plains with seas of wind-rippled grass, of springing wild creatures, and lithe, sun-tanned men who ride with utter ease on ungroomed, half-broken horses. But when I lived much in cow camps I often carried a volume of Swinburne, as a kind of antiseptic to alkali dust, tepid, muddy water, frying-pan bread, sow-belly bacon, and the too-infrequent washing of sweat-drenched clothing.

Fathers and mothers who are wise can train their children first to practise, and soon to like, the sustained mental application necessary to enjoy good books. They will do well also to give each boy or girl the mastery of at least some one foreign language, so that at least one other great literature, in addition to our own noble English literature, shall be open to him or her. Modern languages are taught so easily and readily that whoever really desires to learn one of them can soon achieve sufficient command of it to read ordinary books with reasonable ease; and then it is a mere matter of practise for any one to become able thoroughly to enjoy the beauty and wisdom which knowledge of the new tongue brings.

Now and then one’s soul thirsts for laughter. I cannot imagine any one’s taking a course in humorous writers, but just as little can I sympathize with the man who does not enjoy them at times—from Sydney Smith to John Phœnix and Artemus Ward, and from these to Stephen Leacock. Mark Twain at his best stands a little apart, almost as much so as Joel Chandler Harris. Oliver Wendell Holmes, of course, is the laughing philosopher, the humorist at his very highest, even if we use the word “humor” only in its most modern and narrow sense.

A man with a real fondness for books of various kinds will find that his varying moods determine which of these books he at the moment needs. On the afternoon when Stevenson represents the luxury of enjoyment it may safely be assumed that Gibbon will not. The mood that is met by Napier’s “Peninsular War,” or Marbot’s memoirs, will certainly not be met by Hawthorne or Jane Austen. Parkman’s “Montcalm and Wolfe,” Motley’s histories of the Dutch Republic, will hardly fill the soul on a day when one turns naturally to the “Heimskringla”; and there is a sense of disconnection if after the “Heimskringla” one takes up the “Oxford Book of French Verse.”

Another matter which within certain rather wide limits each reader must settle for himself is the dividing line between (1) not knowing anything about current books, and (2) swamping one’s soul in the sea of vapidity which overwhelms him who reads only “the last new books.” To me the heading employed by some reviewers when they speak of “books of the week” comprehensively damns both the books themselves and the reviewer who is willing to notice them. I would much rather see the heading “books of the year before last.” A book of the year before last which is still worth noticing would probably be worth reading; but one only entitled to be called a book of the week had better be tossed into the wastebasket at once. Still, there are plenty of new books which are not of permanent value but which nevertheless are worth more or less careful reading; partly because it is well to know something of what especially interests the mass of our fellows, and partly because these books, although of ephemeral worth, may really set forth something genuine in a fashion which for the moment stirs the hearts of all of us.

Books of more permanent value may, because of the very fact that they possess literary interest, also yield consolation of a non-literary kind. If any executive grows exasperated over the shortcomings of the legislative body with which he deals, let him study Macaulay’s account of the way William was treated by his parliaments as soon as the latter found that, thanks to his efforts, they were no longer in immediate danger from foreign foes; it is illuminating. If any man feels too gloomy about the degeneracy of our people from the standards of their forefathers, let him read “Martin Chuzzlewit”; it will be consoling.

If the attitude of this nation toward foreign affairs and military preparedness at the present day seems disheartening, a study of the first fifteen years of the nineteenth century will at any rate give us whatever comfort we can extract from the fact that our great-grandfathers were no less foolish than we are.

Nor need any one confine himself solely to the affairs of the United States. If he becomes tempted to idealize the past, if sentimentalists seek to persuade him that the “ages of faith,” the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, for instance, were better than our own, let him read any trustworthy book on the subject—Lea’s  “History of the Inquisition,” for instance, or Coulton’s abridgment of Salimbene’s memoirs. He will be undeceived and will be devoutly thankful that his lot has been cast in the present age, in spite of all its faults.

It would be hopeless to try to enumerate all the books I read, or even all the kinds. The foregoing is a very imperfect answer to a question which admits of only such an answer.

===

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. The excerpt from Books for Holidays in the Open by Teddy Roosevelt originally appeared in 1916.


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