Books, Bond books

Books, Bond books

With the latest James Bond movie, SPECTRE, opening in the USA this weekend, I thought a look at James Bond books available for the Kindle was in order.

Ian Fleming wrote fourteen original James Bond books (three are short story collections)…coincidentally, one has to assume, the same number as the “Famous Fourteen” original (Wizard of) Oz books by L. Frank Baum.

Not only are all of what Amazon identifies as the

James Bond (Original Series) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

available for the Kindle, they are in reader-friendly versions: text-to-speech is enabled; they have X-Ray (Amazon’s reference to characters, concepts, and more in a book); they are low price ($2.99 each); and they are available at no additional cost through

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

Amazon’s subser (subscription service) which is $9.99 a month for “all you can read” (and there have been discounts for longer period agreements).

One reason these benefits are available?

The e-books are published by Amazon.

Amazon announced the acquisition of the “backlist” of James Bond for its mystery imprint, Thomas & Mercer back on April 17, of 2012.

Arguably, it’s still the biggest exclusive Amazon has.

I re-read the first book in the series, Casino Royale, in part because of Amazon’s acquisition. I reviewed it here:

Review: Casino Royale

before I generally moved book reviewing to my

Goodreads account

based on feedback from my readers on this blog.

I  found it well-written, although with some (unsurprising) potentially objectionable material.

If I was beginning with Bond, would I start there?

I would…it’s an origin story of sorts.

However, as Tack Carlson noted in my

Surviving “The End”: advice for literary characters (part 1)

first novels are often different…they may shape the characters we then come to know.

That was certainly true for the Oz series (the first and most famous book is my least favorite of the Famous Fourteen…and I often suggest kids start the Oz books with the second in the series), and it’s true here…although this is one of the best of the original Bond books.

Gee, how many parallels are there with the Oz books and Bond? Interesting question which I may explore later…

Anyway, this is a book where Bond has considerable self doubt. There is a notable philosophical debate about the morals of what Bond does…with Bond doing the challenging of the value.

Bond has been huge in popular culture…in addition to the books, there are the movies, and so many other things, including cartoon series, radio, and videogames.

One of my earliest memories is being at a drive-in movie theatre for the original Dr. No movie. Of course, that was so long ago, I wouldn’t consider myself a reliable witness. 😉 I’m also sure I slept through most of it…as my parents no doubt intended. 🙂

The first book was published in 1953, and the series got a huge boost when John F. Kennedy listed one of the Bond books as one of his favorites, and made additional references to Bond.

Fleming’s last Bond book was published posthumously in 1966.

1968 saw famous author Kingsley Amis, who had written a non-fiction book about Bond, continuing the series with

Colonel Sun (at AmazonSmile*)

Unlike the Oz books, though, that didn’t make for a successful, living series.

The series didn’t really resume (although there were novelizations) until 1981’s

Licence Renewed (at AmazonSmile*)

by another author, John Gardner.

That was it: the series was alive again, and has continued since then (Gardner actually wrote more Bond books than Fleming).

Note that License Renewed is not part of what Amazon licensed for Thomas & Mercer. It costs nearly three times as much at $8.99 at time of writing, and is not part of Kindle Unlimited.

I think that’s worth considering, for people who think of Amazon as the “big bad” for readers.

If you want to read James Bond, Amazon is the easiest way to do so. You could get the free month of KU, and if you read quickly enough, read all fourteen of them for free. 🙂 In fact, several people on your account could do it…six at a time for each book. You can only have a total of ten books out at time, so you’d have to coordinate which titles you were all reading to some extent, but it could be done.

If you’d prefer to own them, you can get the 14 e-books for $41.86. Buying them in paperback, they are (again, at time of writing) $7.48 each: $104.72 total.

Now, that doesn’t show that Amazon is better for the publisher or for the author (although it doesn’t show that it isn’t), but for readers who shop at Amazon, we can see the advantages.

If you choose not to shop at Amazon?

Well, that would be a problem if you want to read them as e-books.

Barnes & Noble does carry the Thomas & Mercer p-books…I don’t think you would discover it to be difficult to get the p-books, even if you didn’t shop at Amazon (although you would still be supporting Amazon).

There are so many non-fiction books about Bond! There are fannish specializations, cultural analyses, and trivia books.

A search for James Bond in the USA Kindle store has 775 results, and 235 of those are available through Kindle Unlimited.

If you want to read Bond before (or after) seeing SPECTRE, Amazon makes it easy. Oh, and they also have a single volume

The SPECTRE Trilogy: Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice (James Bond – Extended Series) (at AmazonSmile*)

By the way, can’t you imagine a scene where Q, Bond’s gadget master, is issuing Bond a top secret, experimental device…

Bond: “Is it a weapon?”

Q: “Some would say so. It’s a portable library: we call it a Kindle.”

Bond: “Books? I’m afraid that would be opening a new chapter in my lethal methodology.”

Q.: “Information is power, Bond. Do pay attention. When you open this special cover, the screen will illuminate. To reveal the list of books, simply swipe your finger across the screen like this. You can then find whatever you might need for background on your latest mission. We have also provided you with special intelligence, which you will find under Docs.”

Bond: “May I?”

Q hands Bond the Kindle. Bond takes it…and then throws it across the lab, where it chops off the head of a target dummy.

Bond: “My mother always told me reading would go to your head…”


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

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.

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