Archive for December, 2009

I have a Kindle…now what?

December 25, 2009

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. 

Initial use

Kindles are very easy to use.   Your Kindle should have a User’s Guide and a dictionary on it 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 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. 

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).

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.


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 20,000 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
  • 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


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

  • Try a restart.  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.


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

Flash! Non-US stores get a lot more books

December 24, 2009

I’ve been saying it was going to happen pretty quickly (over the next year or so). 

One of the world’s largest publishers has just made its books available through the Kindle store for non-US customers.

I’m not naming the publisher, because they block text-to-speech on their Kindle books…and that’s a policy with which I disagree.  I think it’s a personal decision as to whether you buy books from them or not, but I don’t want to promote them.

Suffice it to say that, if you are a non-US customer, you may see a lot more titles available to you today.

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

Flash! New podcast interview with Bufo

December 23, 2009

I’ve appeared once before on Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles

I’m happy to have appeared again in a special holiday podcast recorded today.  You can’t hear it on your Kindle unless you download it first and then put it in your Audible folder on your Kindle.  If you aren’t sure how to do that, see this earlier post.  You can listen to it online, though.

We talked about tips for new Kindle owners, and I was happy to share the time with “Kris Kindle”.  😉  You can get to it here:

The Kindle Chronicles #75 

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

Flash! Free one-day shipping on the Kindle international…going, going…

December 23, 2009

I mentioned when there was free 2-day shipping…there are 8 hours left (roughly, as I write this) for free 1-day shipping on the Kindle 2 international! 

There are some limitations to it, but those are spelled out here.

Looks like the cut-off is basically midnight Eastern time on the 24th (middle of the night tonight, Wednesday the 23rd).

Disclosure: if you buy your Kindle through this link, I do get a cut from Amazon, but it doesn’t affect your pricing or anything.  I don’t recommend products for that reason, but I thought you might want to know.

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

Flash! A fix for blogjams?

December 23, 2009

Several people have been reporting that some of their blogs have not been updating on their Kindles.  It seems to have been since the recent software update, but that’s not necessarily the cause.

Anyway, one of my readers told me about having that problem with this blog.  I recommended clearing the cookies, and that seems to have worked!

When you are in browser mode on your Kindle, hit the Menu-Settings.  You’ll see the option to clear/delete the cookies.  You may also want to do the cache.

You can see more information on Kindles and cookies in this earlier post.

Of course, if your blog isn’t updating, you won’t see this.  I’m hoping people spread the word…

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

Publisher profile: Pocket Books

December 23, 2009

This is a profile of a publisher that does not block text-to-speech for the Kindle at time of writing.  I want to recognize these publishers, and give you a bit of background on them.

Paper history

Pocket was crucial in US publishing history.  The idea of cheap paper editions had caught on in Europe, but it wasn’t until that magical year of 1939 that Pocket Books, under the direction of Robert de Graff, popularized the format in the United States.

For twenty-five cents (roughly the equivalent of four dollars in 2009), you could get a classic like Shakespeare (five tragedies in one volume) or Wuthering Heights (a bestseller that year), or a genre book, like the ghost comedy Topper or the fantasy/adventure novel, Lost Horizon.

This is somewhat of a parallel for me to what is happening with e-books.  We are getting cheaper editions, and they are heavy on classics and genre works.  However, we also are getting the mainstream, and that’s nice.   🙂

Over the years, the Pocket kangaroo (named Gertude) has had a lot of books with cult followings, like the Perry Mason books and the Star Trek books.

They also had the important strategy of moving book sales out of only bookstores into other places, like drugstores and variety stores.  You might not be able to buy your books in a grocery store if it wasn’t for Pocket.

Official Company History Page  

Family ties

Pocket is (since 1966) part of Simon & Schuster, which in turn is part of the New York based CBS Corporation.

Pocket itself includes:

  • Downtown Press
  • G-Unit
  • MTV Books
  • Paraview (uses Pocket phone number)
  • Star Trek (which may say Pocket)
  • Threshold Editions
  • WWE (used Pocket phone number)

Simon & Schuster also distributes Baen Books (science fiction and fantasy), Games Workshop Group (best known for the Warhammer games), Harlequin (romances), Merck (best known for the Merck Manual medical reference books), and the World Almanac.

Other Simon and Schuster imprints include the Free Press, Scribner, and Simon and Schuster.


 Carolyn Reidy is President and CEO of Simon and Schuster.  She took over the company in January of 2008.   Her experience in publishing goes back to 1976, and she has also worked for Random House and William Morrow.

Louise Burke in in charge of Pocket Books. 

Company contact information

Ebook Customer Service form 

Toll free Customer Service phone number: 1-800-223-2336

Customer Service e-mail:

New York offices:

Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Phone: 212-698-7000

In the e-book world

Pocket has embraced e-books, which isn’t too surprising given their innovative approach to publishing in the past.  According to their website, they actually have more e-books available than they do new mass market paperbacks or trade paperbacks (although the combination of trade and mass market would be larger).  It certainly says something that e-books is the format with the largest number of titles.

Amazon has 1,195 e-books by Pocket as I write this.  It’s important to realize that I am only talking about books with the Pocket name, not other imprints (like Baen, which they distribute, and Juno).

Kindle Store search for Pocket Books 

Some books appear in more than one category, but 939 of them appear under fiction (79%). 

The most popular Kindle book they have right now is Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin.  It’s #488 (again, as I write this) out of 396,117…that’s pretty good).

While that book comes from a particular viewpoint, it’s not the type case…they have a lot of different things.

For example, they have several Star Trek novels…nowhere near the 1201 they have in the Amazon store altogether!

Generally, they seem to be releasing Pocket branded e-books a day after the mass market paperback, although I didn’t look at a big sample.

Pocket e-books in the Kindle store

Here is a sampling of their books in the Kindle store.  You can also get Pocket e-books from other sources.

Ghost Hunting 

by Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, and Michael Jan Friedman

If you watch the Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters show, you’ll know Jason and Grant…plumbers by day, proplamologists by night.  🙂

But I Trusted You 

by Ann Rule

This is the fourteenth book in the true crime series from Rule, who had a huge hit with her book on Ted Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me.

Wuthering Heights 

by Emily Bronte

This classic was one of their first paperbacks…they still do quite a few classics in e-book.

A Highlander Christmas

by Janet Chapman

The latest in a romance series.

This Family of Mine: What It Was Like Growing Up Gotti 

by Victoria Gotti

A tell-all biography by a member of the infamous family.

Star Trek (new movie tie-in)

by Alan Dean Foster

Pocket has been the Star Trek publisher for decades, and they continue with this novelization from science fiction novelist Foster (who has also written quite a few other tie-ins)

Rise of the Horde 

by Christie Golden

This is the fourth in a series of World of Warcraft books…the company does have a gaming connection.

 Nightmares & Dreamscapes 

by Stephen King

Here’s a nice collection of King short stories, from a company that doesn’t block text-to-speech access.

A House in Fez: Building a Life in the Ancient Heart of Morocco 

by Suzanna Clarke

Contemporary first person non-fiction, bringing a glimpse of what it is like to move into another culture.

101 Reasons the ’90s Ruled 

by M.C. King

Pop culture…I’m guessing the author and I might have different highlights for this decade, but this companion to the E! miniseries is likely to spark a few personal memories for you.

Hari Maut (World Terrorism Series) 

by Sanjay Gupta, Tarun Kumah Wahi, Manish Gupta, Lalit Sharma (illustrator)

A graphic novel by the CNN commentator/neurosurgeon/Surgeon General candidate…in Hindi?  I think this is the same person.  I tried a sample on my K2: it actually looked pretty good!  I could even see using this to show people the graphics capability of the Kindle.  As to the Hindi: since it is part of the picture, it reproduces…the Kindle wouldn’t be able to do it if it need the character set, currently. 

Well, that’s a pretty eclectic bunch!  If you want to support company’s that don’t block to text-to-speech, or even if that isn’t an issue for you, you’ll probably be able to find a Pocket Book to give you a great reading experience on your Kindle.

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

Flash! Last day to get the Kindle in time for Christmas with free 2-day shipping

December 22, 2009

Amazon has a countdown clock going, but basically, they are giving you free two-day shipping on the Kindle 2 international.

There are a few caveats (like they could run out, although I don’t think they will).  One big thing: if you add anything else to the same order (like a cover), it will be the two-day shipping charge for the other items.  Instead, place two separate orders, if you don’t mind getting the cover later, and save the charge.

Amazon two-day offer details page

I do think it’s the best EBR (e-book reader) out there right now, and it would make a great gift!

Disclosure: if you buy from this link, I do get a cut as an Amazon Associate.  That doesn’t affect what you pay for it, but I thought you might want to know. 

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

Flash! Kindle for Blackberry has a page!

December 22, 2009

Getting closer…

Kindle for Blackberry page 

You can sign up to be notified when it’s actually ready.  I’ll  post about it as well.  🙂

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

Serial thrillers

December 21, 2009

“To be continued…”

Do those words strike terror into your heart, or give you an anticipatory thrill?

For me, it’s a bit of both.  I remember hating that in a comic book, where I’d have to wait a whole month for the conclusion (or even the second part of three) in a story.

On the other hand, I like movie serials.  I never saw them in a movie theatre that way…once a week, with the hero caught in an apparently inexplicable trap, only to be saved and thrust into danger again the next week.  However, they did use to run them that way on TV as I remember…something like “Saturday Cliffhangers”.

In books, I like one to be self-contained, usually.  I don’t mind if there is a series (I’ve read the 181 original Doc Savage  adventures), and I don’t even mind if there is an arc. 

Many of the books we consider great novels were originally serialized.  It might be one chapter in each issue of the Strand Magazine, for example.

Allen McDiarmid, a reader of mine, correctly asked me when I was going to do the second chapter of  A Kindle Carol.  It’s been since December 1st that I published the first part.  That’s too long in-between, but it has been busy.  Research and opinion posts can be more catch as catch can for me.  Ten minutes here, ten minutes there…I can maintain the continuity in my head reasonably well.

When I write fiction, I tend to sit down and write a whole piece at a time.  I want to get to a good breaking point before I stop.  I may go back and polish it, but I would have a hard time stopping in the middle of a scene and then picking it up again. 

That got me thinking.   Culturally, it may be a very good time for serialized literature again.  Obviously, it works in TV, but that’s something different.  I think that people would like reading a chapter a day…something they can do at lunch at work, for example. 

The Kindle and other EBRs (E-Book Readers) are particularly well-suited for that.  If you are going to carry around the complete works of Sherlock Holmes in a hardback, for example…well, that’s awkward.  Whip out your Kindle in the break room, though, and read a chapter (if you don’t get called into a meeting, or run into your boss, or something).

People tend to talk about the modern short attention span.  Some think that  Sesame Street encouraged it.  That may be a question of the Big Bird and the egg, though.  Laugh-In also did a lot of short bits.

However, people will watch eight straight hours of  America’s Next Top Model  or Keeping up with the Kardashians on the weekend…or at least, the cable channels run those kind of marathons, and we have to presume they have some kind of idea what people want. 

Is it something that has changed over time?  Do our modern lifestyles better fit “bite-size” pieces than eight-course meals?

Let’s look back over some serialized fiction, and then consider if it is something you would want now.

Serialized Novels

There may be a reasonable guess that a serialized novel (say, one chapter a month), is not going to be the same kind of great literature that a novel published all at once is going to be.   Inherent in the format is a bit of gimmickiness…if you know you are going to be read one chapter at a time, you will probably tend to make each chapter more significant.  Your publisher isn’t going to want a two-page chapter, and your readers won’t want a month where nothing much happens.

You could compare that to, say, TV shows (especially soap operas) and movies. 

That format, though, hasn’t hurt the reputations of some of these works:

Great Expectations (by Charles Dickens)

It took nine months for  Great Expectations to be published in All the Year Round (from December 1860 to August 1861).   That publication was a weekly, and obviously featured different works in different issues.  Besides Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities was also serialized in AYR), Wilkie Collins had The Woman in White and other works).

Note that this was the first publication of Great Expectations.

Other well-known serialized novels include:

  •  The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1894-1895 in the New Review)
  •  White Fang by Jack London (May to October 1906 in The Outing Magazine)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (November and December issues of  Vossische Zeitung)
  •  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1873-1877 in the Russian Messenger)
  • The Green Mile by Stephen King (six separate volumes in 1996)
  • The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein (September, October and November of  1951 in Galaxy Science Fiction)

I wrote Doctor Watson’s Blog: A Kindle Abandoned  deliberately as a serial…although it’s not long enough to be a novel.  That seemed to be pretty well received.

I do think it can be glorious to sit and read right through hundreds of pages.  My record is three and a half books in a day.  🙂   I’m not likely to have those kinds of days now, though.  I’m much more likely to have a half hour here, a half hour there.  I read a chapter before I go to sleep at night.  I listen to books in the car.  I read at lunch.  I think I’m not alone in that.  Well, I may be alone effectively when I’m doing that, but you know what I mean.  😉

I think publishers should think about that.  Not just ten stories once a month, like the short story magazines do, but even a story a day.  Having to distribute that on paper would be disastrously expensive.  Doing it in a blog format like this makes sense, I think.

Given that, I’m going to try an experiment and start another blog.  Don’t worry, family and friends.  I’m not going to write a thousand words a day.  🙂  I’m going to do 221B Blog Street, and serialize the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories.  One chapter a day.  I don’t think I’ll be able to entirely resist writing anything in it…I may throw in a note or two, and I know the first issue will need an explanation.  I may write something about Holmes and that world in-between the books. 

We’ll see if people are interested in it, and if they are, I may try something else later. 

One thing that concerns me is that people may fall behind.   I’m hoping that most people will feel like they get to it every ten days at least, so they can keep up on their Kindles.  If not, they can always read them on the web.

You can subscribe to the blog here.

If you do try it, let me know what you think.

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

Flash! Amazon reports that December 2009 is the best sales month for the Kindle ever!

December 20, 2009

Well, they crowed last month when November had been the best sales month for the Kindle ever.

Now, Amazon announces that December 2009 is already the best sales month ever for the Kindle…with 12 days left to go!  It will sell well after Christmas in my opinion: some Amazon gift cards will go for that.

Amazon is also giving free 2-day shipping to the Continental US…order by December 22nd to get it delivered by the 24th.

Here is the link to order the Kindle 2i:

Kindle 2 international 

Here is the Amazon press release on the sales:

Press Release

It’s worth noting that the Kindle DX is backordered for four to six weeks.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they came out with the Kindle DX international within six weeks, and shipped those instead…just a guess, though.

So, that nook’s a real Kindle Killer, huh?  😉   I think they’ll both sell pretty well, although the nook needs some tweaking to get past the bad reviews.

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

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