On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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January 2011
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Free Kindle Books on Open Library

Open Library is an amazing non-profit project (partially funded by California State Library). It is trying to catalog book (and e-book) titles and their locations, thus creating a gigantic library. As Open Library owners describe, “One web page for every book ever published”. The idea is to be able to find any book’s location – be it in a store, library, or in electronic version. Open Library is an open project. Anyone can (and is encouraged to) participate: adding book titles, editing the existing catalogue, fixing typos. Also, their software and documentation are also open. There is no registration required for downloading free e-books. However, you need to register on Open Library if you want to participate in the project.

KindleI have to warn you: finding where to download a free e-book is not really intuitive in Open Library. To find a free e-book, you need to type the book title/author’s name in the search bar (there is also an advanced search option, where you can also look for a book by ISBN, subject, place, person, or publisher); check “Only show e-books”. On the results’ page the list of books will have one of three icons – borrow, DAISY, or read.  All the available e-books have the “read” icon beside the book title.  Press “read”.  It should open the book in read-online mode.  Press the icon “i” on the top right corner, next to the “play” option.  It will open a menu with available e-book formats: PDF, Plain Text, DAISY, ePub, and finally, my favorite, “Send to Kindle” option.  Ta-da!

As you might have noticed, other than “read”, there are two more icons appearing in the Open Library search results: “borrow” and “DAISY”. “Borrow” finds the book in the closest to your current location library (it searches by zip-code); and DAISY is a format for vision-impaired readers. According to Open Library, DAISY offers “the benefits of regular audiobooks, with navigation within the book, to chapters or specific pages.” You can find out more about DAISY on their official website.  As far as I understand, DAISY format is not that easily accessible.  One needs to get a key issued by the Library of Congress NLS program.

Quite frankly, I think I’m very impressed with Open Library’s book catalogue idea and its execution.

Some Thoughts on Free E-books

KindleHow often do you read free e-books on your Kindle? Always? Most of the time? Sometimes? Rarely? Does the fact that the book is free, make your reading process more enjoyable? Yes? No? Maybe?

As I’m looking for different sources for free e-books libraries, I come to conclusion that every single source for free e-books has some disadvantages. Aside from Project Gutenberg and ManyBooks.net (most of its books originate from Gutenberg), all of the free e-book libraries are highly commercialized. It really depends, which way a website owner decides to go – either infest a book catalogue’s pages with ads; create membership fees to highly disadvantage free membership’s choices; or even insert advertisement pages in the “free” e-books.

Of course, it’s understandable. There is absolutely no profit for these websites’ owners to invest their time in producing high quality free e-books. So, the free e-books theme is just a way for many to bring users to the website. And advertisements are their actual products. I see so many fake free e-book sites without real content – it’s starting to get on my nerves. It appears that all the domain names with “free e-books” are taken for these exact purposes. To find one site, be it with ads, but containing actual e-books, I go through ten fake ones.

I mean, really, ginormous kudos to Gutenberg for doing what they are doing. And if you are feeling generous, I do encourage you to make a donation to Gutenberg Project to keep them alive. It is tax-deductable.

Another issue with free e-books is that, of course, they are poorly edited. Even Amazon freebies’ content suffers in the quality: as some people noticed that most of Amazon Free Kindle books have editing errors (such as missing passages). Also, my beloved Gutenberg’s e-books are not all perfectly formatted.

Do you notice when a book is poorly edited? Does it bother you much?

Kindle Books Hit New Milestone: Beating Out Paperbacks

So, as I recall it was last summer when Kindle books began beating out purchases of Hardcovers on the Amazon site.  This was a big deal because it illustrated for people that eBooks were pretty clearly here to stay in a way that previous announcements of numbers (not that Amazon was the company making any involving numbers) and vague statements about the future of the industry couldn’t do.  Now, Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) has issued a release announcing that in addition to achieving their first ever $10 Billion quarter, Kindle books are now outselling paperbacks by a fair amount.

Specifically, there are 115 Kindle Editions going out for every 100 paperbacks.  There’s really no way to significantly top that as a milestone, that I can think of.  From here on out, it’s all going to be iterations of the same.  “Twice as many as paperbacks” and that sort of thing.  A similar bit of info was put into the press release to tell us that over the same period as that being measures for that comparison with paperbacks, Kindle books outsold hardcovers by a factor of three.  So, yeah.  Big year.

Now, Amazon has a reputation for only giving us rather fuzzy numbers when it comes to anything having to do with the Kindle.  We know that Kindle device sales numbers for the most recent generation are in the millions, but no more than that other than that they’re a bigger seller than the ever popular Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Nice to have some sort of reference point, of course, but hardly anything you can do specific analysis with.

Overall, good news, but it’s hard to say how good.  We know that Kindle sales, and therefore almost certainly Kindle book sales, are up.  The apps that they release for practically every possible platform with a screen, portable or otherwise, are ever more available and easy to use.  This is good news for Kindle Edition sales as well.  The only thing that we’re vague on right now is how good.  No word if part of it involves a decline in paperback sales, or if half the sales for the year were immediately post-Christmas.  There’s simply no way to determine if there was something huge making this possible.  Was it, however unlikely, the announcement of Kindle for Windows Mobile 7 that put sales over the edge?  The world may never know…

Regardless, some other points of fun information were included as well.  There are now over 810,000 Kindle Editions for sale through the Kindle Store(and that excludes all free books, since that would bring it up into the millions).  Of those books, over 670,000 are available for under $10. While I would love to have solid numbers on the Under $5 range, that’s still encouraging.  Wider acceptance means better selection and hopefully more opportunities for readers.  Maybe next year, Amazon won’t have any reason to point out that their sales number comparison didn’t exclude books with no Kindle Edition counterpart because that will be so rare as to not be an issue.  Ok, yeah, that one’s probably a good way off yet, but it’ll be nice when we do see it.

Library Books and the Kindle, What’s the Deal?

When the Kindle vs Nook competition began, a lot of those of us who take an interest in such things were making a fairly big deal about the advantages of the Nook’s EPUB compatibility.  This remains an advantage for the Nook and any number of other eBook readers to this day, oddly enough.  This, when it comes down to it, is really what’s behind the inability of the Kindle to pick up books at your local library.

Most of you will know what I’m talking about.  For those who don’t, here’s the basic situation as I understand it.  The standard in eBooks is currently the EPUB.  What Amazon is using for their Kindle platform is a variation on the Mobipocket format which is basically the generation previous to that.  For whatever reason, some people think it’s because it keeps the Kindle platform the focus of Kindle devices and software rather than give up any potential control over distribution, the most up to date distribution systems just don’t quite click with Amazon.   Sadly, these are the very systems in place for libraries around the country to take advantage of!

Library services, for example Media on Demand, tend to use Overdrive Inc’s software.  It’s a way to distribute their books in EPUB format, using the Adobe Digital Editions DRM (which is distinct from Amazon’s proprietary right’s management methods), in order to give people copies of eBooks that will become unusable after a set period of time. It’s a neat concept, since it allows for a single “copy” of an eBook to be sent to people without the usual risk of unauthorized copies.  It’s understandable that publishers would be somewhat concerned about that, since there’s nothing to stop people from just holding on to the files themselves, but libraries are awesome and should be supported even as the digital text option takes off.

So, for the moment, Kindle owners are still stuck waiting on the sidelines when it comes to borrowing books from libraries.  Not really surprising since we’ve only in the past month or so seen the activation of even single lending enabled Kindle Editions of books, but still more than a little disappointing for new owners who want to get the most out of their purchase or gift acquisition.

Is there hope for the future?  Of course!  Look forward to new and interesting options when it comes to book borrowing.  Eventually, somebody will figure out a good way to get the ball rolling.  In the meantime, it’s probably helpful to keep in mind that many libraries will offer at least some of their books in PDF format, or at least help walk you through the process of grabbing some public domain titles to put onto your Kindle if you’re not confident doing so on your own.  While PDF documents don’t like quite as good on the eReader display as the newer formats do, they’re still quite readable and there’s a lot out there to hold you over.  No need to be too horribly jealous of all those Nook and Kobo owners. If all else fails, check out the Kindle Lending Club I mentioned in an earlier post.  It hasn’t been going for long enough to have a great impression about reliability, but some option is better than none!

An Interview With the WOWIO CEO

Some Background:

We’ve talked quite a bit here in the past about the potential for advertising entering into digital book media.  The convenience provided by eBooks, both for readers in easy acquisition and for publishers in terms of easily and instantly updating an “edition” of a text without need for the delay of printing and shipping, is undeniable and provides all sorts of potential for advertisers.  Intuitively, it would seem like you’re more receptive when doing something relaxing like laying back with a Kindle than you would be while watching the nightly news’s depictions of the day’s horrible political gaffs or crime sprees, wouldn’t it?

The big roadblock, so far, has been the reader response.  Readers seem to absolutely hate the idea of ads in books on principal.  In the interest of being fair, I’ll admit that I used to be of the same opinion.  Over the past several years, however, I’ve gotten some great eBooks at discounted rates through sites like WOWIO at times when books would have been otherwise out of my budget for whatever reason, and I’ve been impressed with how they handle the ad insertion.  It’s tasteful, unobtrusive, and doesn’t interject into the reading experience in any way.  All the things you wouldn’t think advertising likely to be.  And it made my books cheaper, which I like.

After I commented on the site a while back, our editor Andrei, actually got invited to do a little Q&A session with WOWIO CEO Brian Altounian.  Needless to say, the opportunity was more than welcome.  Here’s the result, for your enjoyment:

The Interview:

Please describe how WOWIO does its business and what sets it apart from other online book stores?

WOWIO isn’t so much a book store as an online destination and community that serves as a digital media distribution marketplace. Through our family of sites which includes WOWIO.com, DrunkDuck.com, WEvolt.com and PopGalaxy.com, we provide opportunities to create, share and consume digital media content, including comics and eBooks. Our goal is to provide the best, most entertaining content possible while helping generate revenue for creators and publishers.

The thing that really sets WOWIO apart from others is our business model. We’ve developed a model that is driven by advertising which allows us to reach the 18-35 year-old audience, and we’ve proven that this model can work. We’ve worked with several major partners such as Maxim Magazine and Fandango.com to bring rich, interactive content to our customers.

Another differentiator is our mobility. While some eBook providers limit where their customers can access their content, we allow our customers to access libraries over multiple devices and screen sizes. Since our library is synched to our website, as long as you can access the web you can access your content.

Lastly, our members are not just consumers, but also creators. They are a very vocal and creative community that provides insight and new, sharable content that similar online content providers cannot match. For example, budding comic book writers can upload their strips to DrunkDuck and allow others to view, comment and share the work.

What made you decide to go into eBook business?

I knew that media was headed in a digital direction, had watched the challenges faced by traditional media in making that transition, and saw an opportunity to establish a model and content experience that could scale appropriately for publishers, authors, creators and advertisers as this convergence occurred. We wanted to create a better business model that could change the landscape of eBooks and I think with our patent issuance and some of our recent advertising programs, we have begun to realize that vision.

In addition to the advertising subsidized model, we wanted to establish industry innovations around the blended media eBook “reader” experience – we add other forms of media, such as audio and video, into the text – to enhance levels of engagement, creativity and immersion and are on pace to set that bar again with some of our forthcoming projects.  Basically, we saw a lot of needs that would emerge in the traditional publishing space as the digital transition occurred and felt that we could accelerate the gap between technology emergence and content provision through our family of digital distribution sites.

DRM-free is highly supported by book readers but it is not a popular idea with the publishers. How do you find the balance between the two? Do you believe that more good has come from it than harm for WOWIO so far?

I think more good will always come from increased solutions to digital innovation in the publishing space. The good thing about WOWIO is that we are fans, readers, publishers and creators, too – so we get perspective from all sides, we welcome healthy debate, and make the best decisions we can on behalf of our creators, publishers and customers.

People inherently have an attachment to the products they purchase and the DRM-free model allows us to fulfill those goals for customer experience. Customers will buy more books and go deeper on the list once they experience an author. Customers do not feel disconnected from a product they purchased and this model provides a sense of customer experience and loyalty to the product. It also rewards authors and publishers that provide a great reader experience with new and recurring customer bases.

Many consumers have strong negative attitude towards ads in eBooks because they fear that ads will be intrusive and disruptive to book reading experience. Has it been a problem for WOWIO so far? Do you foresee it being a problem in the future?

We understand the concerns consumers have with ads in eBooks but we’ve created a model that not only avoids the intrusion so many fear, but one that allows users easier access to their favorite content.

For example, ads do not pop up throughout the book. There is an ad at the beginning before a reader starts a story and one at the end when the book is completed. And since we use an ad-supported business model, that means ads help make the titles more affordable or even sometimes completely free. It also provides an additional source of revenue for our publishers as well as an opportunity to get their content into the hands of more readers.

The feedback on our model has been very positive so far. But we think that others jumping into this space will need to be mindful of how the ads are presented because if the ads are too intrusive or take away from the reading experience, it will have an extremely negative impact.

Ads in books have been tried before but with little success. What makes you believe that eBook ads will be more successful?

One of the reasons this model has not worked before is that the ads were presented in a very obstructive way. The ads got in the way of the content and discouraged people from finishing the book.

Ads in eBooks present a different kind of opportunity for publishers, advertisers and consumers because the new technology allows the ads to be presented in completely new ways. We can ensure that they remain unobtrusive but we can also include additional elements to enhance the user experience, such as outbound links and video content.

Also, the ads placed within eBooks on WOWIO allow us to offer our books for free or at a discounted price making them much more attractive to readers. For example, in the deal we did with Fandango, they provided a free copy of Gulliver’s Travels on WOWIO for users that purchased tickets to the recent Jack Black film through their site.

But the only way it will work in eBooks is if publishers and advertisers keep the experience simple, clean and refrain from ruining the reader’s experience.

Current ads in sponsored WOWIO eBooks are static and pre-defined when the book is published. Do you have plans for dynamic ads or ads that are more targeted to a specific user?

Absolutely. The technology allows us to insert multiple forms of advertisements, such as video or animated content. But our ads are not pre-defined – the type of ad and the titles that include ads will depend on the sponsor, the publisher and sometimes the author. We work with all parties involved to determine which titles are best suited for ads, how long they run and what content is included.

What devices do customers use to read eBooks sold by WOWIO? Is Amazon Kindle a popular choice?

Amazon Kindle is definitely a popular choice, probably due to the compact size and ease of use. Users can take it and access their library anywhere. But what’s great about WOWIO is that our customers aren’t limited to a specific device. So if your Kindle’s batteries are low and only have a laptop available, or if you don’t own an eReader at all, you can access your library and continue right where you left off.

Where do you envision eBook industry and your company in five years from now?

I see WOWIO emerging as a leading blended media distribution provider. WOWIO will continue to serve as a leader in eComics and eBooks, bringing on leading publishers in both comics and traditional publishers.

The publishing industry is going to change several times over the course of the next five years, all of which will be impacted by our patent, our advertising model and, most importantly, by our innovative blended media immersion approach. It will be an exciting space that we look forward to helping define with great end-user products and experiences in the years to come.

And in Closing:

Admittedly, this was a fun one for me, so maybe I’m slightly biased.  Not going to try to deny that.  To me, however, the points made here make sense.  If you can provide a customer with something they will enjoy for less money than they would pay for it elsewhere, they are likely to buy from you even if it means flipping through two pages of ad material.  Kindle books can make this happen in a way that print books never could, which seems to me like it makes the use of ads inevitable.  The only fear is that people new to the concept will take it too far rather than knowing where to draw the line and avoid damaging the reading experience.

To be honest, this solution even works out better for publishers than the current DRM model does.  If you can provide an eBook cheap to free, people are unlikely to bother pirating it.  And let’s be honest and say that it takes far less work to remove the DRM protection on your average eBook than it does to edit individual pages from said book.  What’s in there is staying there unless it’s truly obtrusive or offensive.  Publishers love security.  There will always be a large portion of the audience who would rather pay more for an untouched copy of their book, but this is going to happen in order to make a connection with everybody else.  Let’s hope that a company that really does understand their audience does play a big part in defining the future of this aspect of the industry.

Free E-books on Malay Archipelago in Sejarah Melayu Library

This source for free e-books, articles and academic papers will probably be appreciated by very particular type of readers. Sejarah Melayu Library’s resources focus on Malay Archipelago (also called Indonesian Archipelago) and surrounding areas. All e-books, articles and academic papers are available for your Kindle for free and in .PDF format.

WallaceBasically the library has seven sections:
General section contains miscellaneous materials on Malay Archipelago that (I am guessing) do not really fit into other categories.
Histories and Other References focuses on history and geography.
Travelogue is self-explanatory: travelers’ notes about Malay Archipelago.
Language section contains dictionaries & free grammar e-books.
Fiction consists of novels, fables, poetry and other literary materials that have connections to Malay Archipelago.
Papers and Articles section has journal articles and academic papers available for downloading.
News and Dispatches has historical newspapers, gazettes, chronicles, and reports.

The layout and navigation for Sejarah Melayu Library is straightforward. Notice that you need to press the tiny plus signs in the menu, instead of the titles. There is no registration required to use these materials. All documents I checked out were in good quality PDF.

I think, this is a precious source for the scholars doing a research on Malay Archipelago; intrigued travelers planning to visit the area; and those hungry for information polymaths.

In addition to Sejarah Melayu Library’s resources, Amazon offers somewhat outdated, but free Kindle Books on this topic:
The Malay Archipelago, the Land of the Orang-utan and the Bird of Paradise; a Narrative of Travel, With Studies of Man and Nature Volume I by Alfred Russel Wallace (Volume II is also available for free); Through the Malay Archipelago by Emily Richings; and Blown to Bits The Lonely Man of Rakata, the Malay Archipelago by R. M. (Robert Michael) Ballantyne.

Happy researching!

State Of The Union Address Collection On Kindle

State Of The Union Address Collection

State Of The Union Address Collection

A complete collection of State Of The Union Address Speeches by US Presidents has been published by State Of The Union Address Library on Amazon Kindle. It includes speeches of every president starting with George Washington in 1793 up to the most recent 2011 speech of Barack Obama. While you can also read these texts for free on the website itself and in many other public sources, this book conveniently puts them all together in one publication with active table of contents.

Having all of these texts at hand (courtesy of aforementioned website) I’ve decided to do a small project – I ran all these speeches through readability analyzer at readability.info to get readability scores by different systems. I did this merely for fun and publish the raw data as it is without making any kind of political statement. Make of it what you will and don’t blame anyone since all that you will see here are mere statistical numbers calculated by a machine that doesn’t care one way or another.

Here are some obvious trends that I’ve noticed:

  • State of the Union speeches tended to be much longer in the 19th century and much shorter in the 18th. There are two notably long speeches in the 20th century: Harry Truman’s speech of 1946 (end of World War II) and Jimmy Carter’s speech of 1981 that summarises his presidency.
  • Most readability indexes started to decline starting from the beginning of the 20th century. While it may signify that US presidents and their speech writers started to target a wider audience with these speeches (perhaps due to a much wider distribution via electronic mass media) you should also keep in mind that all these tests were created in the 20th century with modern English language in mind.

Here’s the raw data and some select graphs related to these speeches:

Year President Party Words ARI Coleman-Liau Flesch Fog Kincaid Lix School Grade
1790 George Washington None 1153 23 14 29.2 23.8 19.4 69.7 11
1790 George Washington None 1476 18.8 13 42.7 20 15.8 61.5 11
1791 George Washington None 2384 21.1 13.8 34.4 22.2 17.9 66.2 11
1792 George Washington None 2174 18.8 13.3 38.8 20.3 16.3 61.6 11
1793 George Washington None 2043 18.6 12.6 42.9 19.5 15.9 59.8 11
1794 George Washington None 2990 20 13.2 38.6 20.9 16.9 64.1 11
1795 George Washington None 2058 20.5 14.1 35.5 21.5 17.3 65.9 11
1796 George Washington None 2953 19.9 13.1 38.2 20.8 17 63.6 11
1797 John Adams Federalist 2138 19 13.1 41 19.7 16.1 61.4 11
1798 John Adams Federalist 2294 21.5 13.2 35.8 22 18.1 66.2 11
1799 John Adams Federalist 1580 22.3 13.6 31.9 22.9 18.9 68.6 11
1800 John Adams Federalist 1446 18.3 13.4 41.9 19.7 15.6 60.5 11
1801 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 3297 19.5 13 39.1 20.6 16.7 62.8 11
1802 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 2279 19.2 12.4 43.1 19.7 16.2 61.2 11
1803 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 2356 26.3 13.8 25.6 25.7 21.6 76.3 11
1804 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 2166 22.9 13 34.5 22.8 19 68.7 11
1805 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 3024 20 12 43 20.4 16.8 62.6 11
1806 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 2943 20.6 12.8 39.3 21 17.3 63.9 11
1807 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 2472 21.1 12.8 39.2 21.2 17.5 65.2 11
1808 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 2769 20.6 13.1 37.4 21.5 17.5 65.2 11
1809 James Madison Democratic-Republican 1905 24.5 13.2 27.2 25 20.7 72.8 11
1810 James Madison Democratic-Republican 2526 22.3 13.8 31.5 22.7 18.8 69.4 11
1811 James Madison Democratic-Republican 2350 26.6 13.7 23.3 26.3 22.2 77.6 11
1812 James Madison Democratic-Republican 3329 20.4 13.2 36.8 21.3 17.4 65.8 11
1813 James Madison Democratic-Republican 3339 25.7 12.9 27.7 25.4 21.4 75.5 11
1814 James Madison Democratic-Republican 2192 22.5 12.7 35.5 22.2 18.8 68.4 11
1815 James Madison Democratic-Republican 3237 28.8 13.8 16.4 28.2 24.1 83.6 11
1816 James Madison Democratic-Republican 3445 25.1 13.2 25.5 25.5 21.3 74.8 11
1817 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 4515 19.4 12.5 42.6 20 16.4 61 11
1818 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 4458 21 13.2 37.8 21.3 17.5 65.1 11
1819 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 4796 19.1 12.5 44.9 19.5 15.9 60.3 11
1820 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 3542 21.7 12.4 37.7 21.9 18.2 65.9 11
1821 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 5947 20.6 12.2 41.3 20.8 17.3 64.1 11
1822 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 4845 21.5 12.4 37.9 21.9 18.1 65.9 11
1823 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 6516 18.7 12.7 42.8 19.8 15.9 60.6 11
1824 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 8535 18.3 12.4 45.5 19.2 15.4 58.8 11
1825 John Quincy Adams Whig 9187 22.9 12.6 32.5 23.3 19.4 69.5 11
1826 John Quincy Adams Whig 7797 23.7 12.6 31.7 23.9 20 70.6 11
1827 John Quincy Adams Whig 7176 23.2 13 32.2 23.4 19.5 70 11
1828 John Quincy Adams Whig 7494 20.6 12.8 37.4 21.2 17.5 65 11
1829 Andrew Jackson Democratic-Republican 10655 19.1 12.8 40 20.4 16.5 62.3 11
1830 Andrew Jackson Democratic-Republican 15118 20.8 13.1 36.2 21.6 17.7 65.1 11
1831 Andrew Jackson Democratic-Republican 7292 23.3 12.8 33.1 23.3 19.5 69.9 11
1832 Andrew Jackson Democratic-Republican 7984 21.2 12.7 36.8 21.9 18 66.3 11
1833 Andrew Jackson Democratic-Republican 8017 23.2 12.6 34 23.2 19.4 70 11
1834 Andrew Jackson Democratic-Republican 13591 22.5 12.8 33.8 23.1 19 68.7 11
1835 Andrew Jackson Democratic-Republican 10937 24 12.7 31.6 24 20.1 71.5 11
1836 Andrew Jackson Democratic-Republican 12516 22.4 12.5 34.6 22.8 19 68.6 11
1837 Martin Van Buren Democratic-Republican 11581 22.1 13 33.8 22.7 18.8 68 11
1838 Martin Van Buren Democratic-Republican 11646 23.8 13.3 29.6 24.1 20 72 11
1839 Martin Van Buren Democratic-Republican 13521 21.2 12.7 37.2 21.7 17.9 65.6 11
1840 Martin Van Buren Democratic-Republican 9101 26.9 13.7 23.1 26.5 22.3 78.2 11
1841 John Tyler Independent 8374 22.2 12.4 34.6 22.6 18.9 67.8 11
1842 John Tyler Independent 8551 21.9 12.4 36.4 22.3 18.5 66.4 11
1843 John Tyler Independent 8149 22.4 12.6 34.6 22.7 18.9 67.9 11
1844 John Tyler Independent 9424 18.9 12.7 41.1 19.9 16.2 61.1 11
1845 James Polk Democratic 16243 20 12.5 40.4 20.6 16.9 63.1 11
1846 James Polk Democratic 18474 21.2 12.2 38.1 21.6 18 65.3 11
1847 James Polk Democratic 16673 20.2 12.1 41.1 20.7 17.1 63 11
1848 James Polk Democratic 21610 19.6 12.6 40.6 20.4 16.7 62.1 11
1849 Zachary Taylor Whig 7750 20.4 13.1 36.7 21.4 17.4 65 11
1850 Millard Fillmore Whig 8450 19.4 12.8 40.1 20.5 16.6 62.9 11
1851 Millard Fillmore Whig 13511 20.5 12.5 38.8 21.2 17.4 64.8 11
1852 Millard Fillmore Whig 10090 19 12.7 41.6 20 16.2 61.7 11
1853 Franklin Pierce Democratic 9720 22.4 13.1 32.9 22.8 19 68.6 11
1854 Franklin Pierce Democratic 10286 21.2 13.5 35.5 21.7 17.8 66.8 11
1855 Franklin Pierce Democratic 11746 23.4 13.3 30 23.7 19.8 70.9 11
1856 Franklin Pierce Democratic 10632 22.3 13.3 31.4 22.9 19 68.9 11
1857 James Buchanan Democratic 13873 19.3 12.7 41.1 20.3 16.4 62.3 11
1858 James Buchanan Democratic 16595 18.2 12.8 43.2 19.3 15.5 60 11
1859 James Buchanan Democratic 12639 18.1 12.4 44.6 19 15.5 59.7 11
1860 James Buchanan Democratic 14231 16.6 12.7 45.5 18.2 14.5 56.3 11
1861 Abraham Lincoln Republican 7094 17.5 12.4 44.8 19 15.2 59 11
1862 Abraham Lincoln Republican 8557 14.1 12 54.1 15.7 12.3 50.7 9
1863 Abraham Lincoln Republican 6294 17.4 12.8 44 18.6 15 58.5 11
1864 Abraham Lincoln Republican 6046 15.7 12.4 49.4 17.2 13.6 54.7 11
1865 Andrew Johnson Democratic 9331 18.2 12.4 44 19.3 15.6 59.1 11
1866 Andrew Johnson Democratic 7304 20.5 13.6 35.2 21.3 17.5 65.2 11
1867 Andrew Johnson Democratic 12210 17.2 12.5 45.6 18.7 14.9 57.4 11
1868 Andrew Johnson Democratic 9946 19.4 13.1 39.7 20.3 16.5 62.7 11
1869 Ulysses S Grant Republican 7871 17.2 12.5 45.8 18.5 14.8 57.6 11
1870 Ulysses S Grant Republican 8925 17.9 12.3 45 18.8 15.3 59.1 11
1871 Ulysses S Grant Republican 6520 17.1 12.9 44.1 18.7 14.9 58.4 11
1872 Ulysses S Grant Republican 4038 19.1 12.8 41.1 20.3 16.3 62 11
1873 Ulysses S Grant Republican 10195 18.9 12.6 41.5 19.8 16.2 61.8 11
1874 Ulysses S Grant Republican 9316 18.3 12.7 42.2 19.6 15.8 60.6 11
1875 Ulysses S Grant Republican 12410 19.2 12.6 40.6 20.2 16.5 61.5 11
1876 Ulysses S Grant Republican 6946 19.6 12.7 40.6 20.4 16.7 62.2 11
1877 Rutherford B Hayes Republican 8193 20.2 12.9 37.4 21.1 17.3 64.4 11
1878 Rutherford B Hayes Republican 8114 19.2 13.2 39.1 20.4 16.5 62.9 11
1879 Rutherford B Hayes Republican 11886 20.6 13.2 35.5 21.7 17.7 65.6 11
1880 Rutherford B Hayes Republican 6695 19.9 13.9 35 21.3 17.1 65 11
1881 Chester A Arthur Republican 3876 18.6 14.2 38.8 19.7 15.8 62.9 11
1882 Chester A Arthur Republican 2810 17.1 13.7 42 18.6 14.8 59.4 11
1883 Chester A Arthur Republican 3877 18.9 13 40.2 20.3 16.3 62.8 11
1884 Chester A Arthur Republican 9192 17.8 13.3 41.7 19.2 15.4 60.1 11
1885 Grover Cleveland Democratic 20058 19.6 13.4 37.9 20.6 16.8 63.3 11
1886 Grover Cleveland Democratic 15455 20.2 13.3 36.7 21.1 17.3 64.8 11
1887 Grover Cleveland Democratic 5440 23.2 12.5 32.9 23.5 19.6 69.6 11
1888 Grover Cleveland Democratic 9192 20.9 13.4 35.2 21.8 17.8 66.1 11
1889 Benjamin Harrison Republican 13227 16.6 12.7 45.5 18.3 14.5 56.8 11
1890 Benjamin Harrison Republican 11746 17.5 12.9 43.9 18.7 15.1 58.8 11
1891 Benjamin Harrison Republican 16615 18.9 12.3 42.3 20 16.3 60.7 11
1892 Benjamin Harrison Republican 14188 17.4 11.9 47.9 18.5 14.9 57.7 11
1897 William Mckinley Republican 12307 17.7 12.8 42.9 19.2 15.4 59.3 11
1898 William Mckinley Republican 20612 19.1 13.2 39.7 20.2 16.4 62.7 11
1899 William Mckinley Republican 15358 19 13.5 38.1 20.4 16.4 62.8 11
1900 William Mckinley Republican 19538 18.5 13.5 39.5 19.8 16 61.7 11
1901 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 19772 15.6 12.3 49.3 17.4 13.6 54 10
1902 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 9908 15.9 12.3 49.3 17.5 13.8 54.4 11
1903 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 15131 16.6 13 45.8 18 14.4 56.7 11
1904 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 17632 17.8 12.7 44.2 19 15.3 58.2 11
1905 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 25215 16.8 12.3 46.1 18.4 14.7 56.8 11
1906 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 23802 18.8 12.1 43.4 19.9 16.1 60.6 11
1907 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 27661 17.2 12.4 45.9 18.6 14.8 57.5 11
1908 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 19646 16.8 12.5 47 18 14.4 56.3 11
1909 William H Taft Republican 14036 20.5 13.5 35 21.7 17.5 65.6 11
1910 William H Taft Republican 6785 20.9 13.9 34 21.9 17.8 66.9 11
1911 William H Taft Republican 24008 18.2 13 42.2 19.6 15.6 60.7 11
1912 William H Taft Republican 25488 19.3 13.3 38.8 20.5 16.5 63 11
1913 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 3640 16.8 11.7 49.2 18.1 14.5 56 11
1914 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 4560 12.7 10.6 62.6 14.4 11 45.9 8
1915 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 7758 17.7 11.7 48.6 18.8 15 58.2 11
1916 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 2137 20.8 13.1 36.5 21.3 17.6 65.5 11
1917 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 3993 14.1 10.8 58.6 15.5 12.2 49.8 9
1918 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 5562 17.3 11.5 50.9 18.3 14.6 55.9 11
1919 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 4833 16.3 13 45.7 17.9 14.2 56.8 11
1920 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 2792 20 12.4 40.5 20.4 17 63.2 11
1921 Warren Harding Republican 5718 15.4 13.4 44.2 17.9 13.8 55.3 11
1922 Warren Harding Republican 5833 15 13.7 44.9 17.1 13.4 55.1 11
1923 Calvin Coolidge Republican 6806 11.4 13.6 54.2 14.1 10.3 47.1 8
1924 Calvin Coolidge Republican 7091 14.7 13.4 46.9 16.8 13 53.9 10
1925 Calvin Coolidge Republican 11015 13.3 13.3 50.8 15.6 11.8 50.6 9
1926 Calvin Coolidge Republican 10477 13.6 13.2 50.2 15.9 12.2 52 10
1927 Calvin Coolidge Republican 8942 12 13.6 54.5 14.3 10.6 48.2 9
1928 Calvin Coolidge Republican 8215 13.3 13.8 50.8 15.5 11.7 51.2 10
1929 Herbert Hoover Republican 11259 16.2 14 42.1 18.1 14.2 56.7 11
1930 Herbert Hoover Republican 4696 17 14.5 38.3 18.9 14.9 58.3 11
1931 Herbert Hoover Republican 5834 14.7 15.1 43.4 16.9 12.9 55.1 11
1932 Herbert Hoover Republican 926 16.4 12.9 46.1 18.4 14.3 58.4 11
1934 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 2312 17.2 13.3 44.1 18.6 14.8 58.7 11
1935 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 3603 14.6 13 48.7 16.5 12.9 52 10
1936 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 3857 12.8 11.6 57.9 14.8 11.3 47.2 8
1937 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 2796 15.1 13.4 46 17.4 13.4 53.2 10
1938 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 4715 14.7 12.6 49.1 16.7 13.1 52.2 10
1939 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 3846 12.8 12.6 54.3 15.1 11.4 48.6 9
1940 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 3298 14.3 11.8 54.3 16 12.5 50.2 9
1941 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 3416 11.7 11.7 59.7 13.8 10.5 45.8 8
1942 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 3585 10.1 10.6 67.9 12 8.9 40.7 6
1943 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 4702 11.5 11 63.8 13.5 10.1 44 7
1944 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 3902 11.9 11.4 59.4 14.1 10.7 45.5 8
1945 Franklin D Roosevelt Democratic 8362 13.5 12.3 54.3 15.3 11.8 49.8 9
1946 Harry S Truman Democratic 27982 13.9 14.2 46.4 15.9 12.4 52.9 10
1947 Harry S Truman Democratic 6163 12.5 13.6 51.2 14.8 11.3 49.1 9
1948 Harry S Truman Democratic 5232 10.6 12.4 59 13.1 9.7 44.3 8
1949 Harry S Truman Democratic 3503 11.1 13.2 56.1 13.8 10.1 46.1 8
1950 Harry S Truman Democratic 5246 12.2 12.3 55.6 14.5 11.1 48.4 9
1951 Harry S Truman Democratic 4101 8.4 11 70 10.8 7.7 38.7 6
1952 Harry S Truman Democratic 5475 8.8 10.5 70.3 11.2 8 38.2 6
1953 Dwight D Eisenhower Democratic 7043 12.4 14.2 49.2 15 11.3 50.2 9
1953 Harry S Truman Democratic 9784 11.7 11.7 60.9 13.8 10.3 45.1 8
1954 Dwight D Eisenhower Democratic 6147 13.2 14.3 49.1 15.3 11.6 51.6 10
1955 Dwight D Eisenhower Democratic 7290 13.6 14.9 44.7 16.2 12.3 54.3 11
1956 Dwight D Eisenhower Democratic 8379 13.6 14.5 47.5 15.7 12 53.3 10
1957 Dwight D Eisenhower Democratic 4236 13.3 13.9 49 15.6 11.8 51.1 10
1958 Dwight D Eisenhower Democratic 4971 11.5 13.4 55 13.9 10.4 48.6 9
1959 Dwight D Eisenhower Democratic 5009 11.3 13.5 54.5 13.6 10.3 46.5 8
1960 Dwight D Eisenhower Democratic 5760 13.6 13.7 49.2 15.5 12.1 51.9 10
1961 Dwight D Eisenhower Democratic 6295 15 15.2 43.8 16.5 13 56 11
1961 John F Kennedy Democratic 5329 14.2 12.6 51.5 15.8 12.5 52.2 10
1962 John F Kennedy Democratic 6631 12.9 12.3 55.6 14.6 11.4 49.4 9
1963 John F Kennedy Democratic 5340 11.9 11.7 59 13.9 10.7 47.3 8
1964 Lyndon B Johnson Democratic 3318 11.9 11.3 59.9 13.6 10.7 46.4 8
1965 Lyndon B Johnson Democratic 4414 8.5 10.9 70.2 10.7 7.7 39.3 6
1966 Lyndon B Johnson Democratic 5345 10.9 11.1 64.1 12.7 9.7 43.9 7
1967 Lyndon B Johnson Democratic 7289 10.6 11.3 63.9 12.6 9.5 44 8
1968 Lyndon B Johnson Democratic 4974 9.6 11.3 65.7 11.7 8.7 41.8 7
1969 Lyndon B Johnson Democratic 4174 10.5 10.8 65.7 12.5 9.4 42.5 7
1970 Richard Nixon Republican 4571 11.2 10.8 62.9 13.1 10.1 44 7
1971 Richard Nixon Republican 4600 11.9 10.9 61.6 14.1 10.6 45.1 8
1972 Richard Nixon Republican 4056 11.6 11.3 60.5 13.7 10.5 45.4 8
1973 Richard Nixon Republican 1734 14.8 12 52.1 16.2 12.9 53.8 10
1974 Richard Nixon Republican 5285 12.6 10.7 60.8 14.4 11.2 47.3 8
1975 Gerald R Ford Republican 4139 10.1 12.3 58.6 13 9.6 44.2 8
1976 Gerald R Ford Republican 5106 10.3 12.2 60.4 12.9 9.4 43.2 7
1977 Gerald R Ford Republican 4769 12.3 12.5 55.1 14.6 11.1 48.2 9
1978 Jimmy Carter Democratic 4679 9.4 11.2 64.3 12.3 8.9 41.1 7
1979 Jimmy Carter Democratic 3361 11.4 12.1 59.5 13.8 10.1 45.8 8
1980 Jimmy Carter Democratic 3506 10.9 11.8 61.4 13 9.8 44 7
1981 Jimmy Carter Democratic 33730 15.5 15.1 42 17 13.5 56.6 11
1982 Ronald Reagan Republican 5368 11.2 11.9 60.7 13.4 10 45.4 8
1983 Ronald Reagan Republican 5747 11.4 11.7 59.5 13.7 10.3 45.9 8
1984 Ronald Reagan Republican 5147 9.1 11.7 64.9 11.5 8.4 40.7 6
1985 Ronald Reagan Republican 4421 10.3 11.8 62.5 12.5 9.3 43.5 7
1986 Ronald Reagan Republican 3559 9.4 10.9 66.8 11.5 8.6 41.1 7
1987 Ronald Reagan Republican 3981 9.3 10.9 66.8 11.7 8.6 41.3 7
1988 Ronald Reagan Republican 4952 10.2 11 63.6 12.7 9.4 42.5 7
1990 George H W Bush Republican 3847 7.2 9.7 73.5 10.2 7.1 34.5 5
1991 George H W Bush Republican 3908 8.7 11.3 66.4 11.6 8.2 39.9 6
1992 George H W Bush Republican 4865 6.6 9.7 76.6 9.6 6.4 33.6 5
1994 William J Clinton Democratic 7611 9.8 10.4 69.4 11.8 8.7 40.1 6
1995 William J Clinton Democratic 9376 9.2 9.6 70.9 12 8.5 39 6
1996 William J Clinton Democratic 6430 8.7 10.9 68.8 11.2 8 40 6
1997 William J Clinton Democratic 6847 9.6 10.9 68.2 11.7 8.6 41.4 7
1998 William J Clinton Democratic 7346 9.5 10.7 68 11.6 8.6 41.5 7
1999 William J Clinton Democratic 7718 9.8 10.9 66.2 11.9 8.9 42.5 7
2000 William J Clinton Democratic 7547 9.5 11.6 65.9 11.5 8.5 41.5 7
2001 George W Bush Republican 4486 8.1 11.3 71 10.3 7.3 39.7 6
2001 George W Bush Republican 3102 8.3 11.3 70.4 10.6 7.4 38.9 6
2002 George W Bush Republican 3951 9.6 12 67.1 11.4 8.3 42.7 7
2003 George W Bush Republican 5489 10.4 12 63.1 12.3 9.2 44.5 8
2004 George W Bush Republican 5399 10.3 12.1 65.2 11.9 8.8 44.5 8
2005 George W Bush Republican 5252 11.6 12.2 60.2 13.4 10.2 46.8 8
2006 George W Bush Republican 5468 10.7 12.2 61.9 12.7 9.5 45.7 8
2007 George W Bush Republican 5696 9.6 10.8 67.6 11.9 8.6 40.9 6
2008 George W Bush Republican 5838 9.8 11.8 65.4 12 8.7 42.4 7
2009 Barack Obama Democratic 6033 10.3 10.4 66.4 12.5 9.4 41.8 7
2010 Barack Obama Democratic 7183 8.6 10.8 69.9 11.2 7.9 38.4 6
2011 Barack Obama Democratic 6993 8.2 10.2 72.4 10.7 7.5 37.8 5

Average scores by US President:

President Words ARI Coleman-Liau Flesch Fog Kincaid Lix School Grade
Theodore Roosevelt 19,845.88 16.94 12.45 46.38 18.35 14.64 56.81 10.88
James Polk 18,250.00 20.25 12.35 40.05 20.83 17.18 63.38 11
William H Taft 17,579.25 19.73 13.43 37.5 20.93 16.85 64.05 11
William Mckinley 16,953.75 18.58 13.25 40.05 19.9 16.05 61.63 11
James Buchanan 14,334.50 18.05 12.65 43.6 19.2 15.48 59.58 11
Benjamin Harrison 13,944.00 17.6 12.45 44.9 18.88 15.2 58.5 11
Grover Cleveland 12,536.25 20.98 13.15 35.68 21.75 17.88 65.95 11
Martin Van Buren 11,462.25 23.5 13.18 30.93 23.75 19.75 70.95 11
Jimmy Carter 11,319.00 11.8 12.55 56.8 14.03 10.58 46.88 8.25
Andrew Jackson 10,763.75 22.06 12.75 35.01 22.54 18.65 67.8 11
Millard Fillmore 10,683.67 19.63 12.67 40.17 20.57 16.73 63.13 11
Franklin Pierce 10,596.00 22.33 13.3 32.45 22.78 18.9 68.8 11
Andrew Johnson 9,697.75 18.83 12.9 41.13 19.9 16.13 61.1 11
Calvin Coolidge 8,757.67 13.05 13.48 51.23 15.37 11.6 50.5 9.33
Rutherford B Hayes 8,722.00 19.98 13.3 36.75 21.13 17.15 64.48 11
John Tyler 8,624.50 21.35 12.53 36.68 21.88 18.13 65.8 11
Harry S Truman 8,435.75 11.15 12.36 58.69 13.49 10.08 45.35 8
Ulysses S Grant 8,277.63 18.41 12.64 42.61 19.54 15.81 60.4 11
John Quincy Adams 7,913.50 22.6 12.75 33.45 22.95 19.1 68.78 11
Zachary Taylor 7,750.00 20.4 13.1 36.7 21.4 17.4 65 11
Average Value 7,742.37 16.5 12.55 47.25 17.89 14.25 56.39 9.78
William J Clinton 7,553.57 9.44 10.71 68.2 11.67 8.54 40.86 6.57
Abraham Lincoln 6,997.75 16.18 12.4 48.08 17.63 14.03 55.73 10.5
Barack Obama 6,736.33 9.03 10.47 69.57 11.47 8.27 39.33 6
Dwight D Eisenhower 6,125.56 13.06 14.18 49.11 15.26 11.64 51.5 9.78
Warren Harding 5,775.50 15.2 13.55 44.55 17.5 13.6 55.2 11
John F Kennedy 5,766.67 13 12.2 55.37 14.77 11.53 49.63 9
Herbert Hoover 5,678.75 16.08 14.13 42.48 18.08 14.08 57.13 11
James Monroe 5,394.25 20.04 12.54 41.31 20.55 16.84 62.71 11
George W Bush 4,964.56 9.82 11.74 65.77 11.83 8.67 42.9 7.11
Chester A Arthur 4,938.75 18.1 13.55 40.68 19.45 15.58 61.3 11
Lyndon B Johnson 4,919.00 10.33 11.12 64.92 12.3 9.28 42.98 7.17
Ronald Reagan 4,739.29 10.13 11.41 63.54 12.43 9.23 42.91 7.14
Gerald R Ford 4,671.33 10.9 12.33 58.03 13.5 10.03 45.2 8
Woodrow Wilson 4,409.38 16.96 11.85 49.08 18.09 14.51 56.41 10.38
George H W Bush 4,206.67 7.5 10.23 72.17 10.47 7.23 36 5.33
Richard Nixon 4,049.20 12.42 11.14 59.58 14.3 11.06 47.12 8.2
Franklin D Roosevelt 4,032.83 13.35 12.11 54.96 15.32 11.78 48.99 8.75
James Madison 2,790.38 24.49 13.31 27.99 24.58 20.59 73.49 11
Thomas Jefferson 2,663.25 21.28 12.86 37.65 21.61 17.83 65.74 11
George Washington 2,153.88 20.09 13.39 37.54 21.13 17.06 64.05 11
John Adams 1,864.50 20.28 13.33 37.65 21.08 17.18 64.18 11

Average scores by US political party:

Party Words ARI Coleman-Liau Flesch Fog Kincaid Lix School Grade
Republican 9,026.30 14.85 12.50 50.57 16.60 12.98 53.27 9.54
Whig 8,931.88 21.21 12.76 36.38 21.86 18.00 66.19 11.00
Independent 8,624.50 21.35 12.53 36.68 21.88 18.13 65.80 11.00
Democratic 7,913.96 14.32 12.30 52.55 16.02 12.53 51.74 9.09
Democratic-Republican 6,076.17 22.14 12.90 34.98 22.48 18.62 67.83 11.00
None 2,153.88 20.09 13.39 37.54 21.13 17.06 64.05 11.00
Federalist 1,864.50 20.28 13.33 37.65 21.08 17.18 64.18 11.00

State Of The Union word count by year trend:

State Of The Union Word Count By Year Trends

State Of The Union Lix Readability Index By The Year

State Of The Union Lix Readability Index By Year

Dusk World – An Interactive Adventure Game for Kindle

Dusk World adds a whole new dimension for Kindle and Kindle DX games.  It is an interactive, adventure game mixed with a graphic novel interface.  Throughout the game you play the part of Agent Patriot, a war hero who was framed for murder.  Dusk World takes place in Dusk City, and the path of the game is determined by the choices you make.

The reviews were all across the board.  I selected a few that give a good overview of Dusk World and the ones that suggest what parts need a little work.

Rover “Rover”

“*The Good*
-Perfect fit for kindle. Mix of reading and game-playing feels like a modern choose your own adventure book.
-Dark, comic-style graphics look great!
-More complex choices than a choose your own adventure book. You can choose what to say to people, and fairly freely roam around an area and do things in not necessarily a prescribed linear order.
-”Combat” sequences that entail typing a series of characters (these can be skipped if necessary).
-Mysterious, comic-booky story. If you like comic-book stuff, you will like it. If not, you might still like it.
-Well designed, easy to use interface. Opening story helps you with how to play, no need to read instructions.

*The Bad*
-Kind of linear–choices often don’t matter in dialog, and despite the fact that you can roam around freely a lot, much of what you do doesn’t matter except triggering the couple actions necessary to progress the story.
-Can be a bit boring/repetitive at times. Since many actions don’t have much consequence, you can often just run through each menu option, trying everything until something works or you get what you want.
-Page turn times a bit slower than in books due to graphics.”


“Love this interactive graphic novel! I will agree with some of the other reviews…the story and interactive content is a bit thin, but I see great potential for future books. The novelty of it has won me over (it brings back my childhood love of comics) and I think the younger readers could be drawn to this type of Kindle book (with the right content, of course). Writers/artists…get cracking!!”

JD “jd”

“Now, many games say this. They say, pick your life, appearance, but it is all the same ending. Dusk world lets you become a powerful mob leader, a superhero, and you pick! Out of the couple of destinies you make, you pick! Small choices create who you are, and dusk world implements this logic.”

When Kindle games were introduced, there was concern that they might draw away from the Kindle’s primary purpose; reading.  Dusk World does a great job of intersecting reading with gaming, so it managing to maintain the core purpose of the Kindle while bringing it to a new level. As the reviewers said, the game has it’s hang ups, but this will be something that can be remedied in future games for the Kindle.

Kindle Singles: Selection of Short Stories for the Kindle

Leaving HomeAmazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) recently announced Kindle Singles, which are short stories written by popular authors such as Jodi PicoultRich Cohen and Jonathan Littell, as well as magazine writers and journalists such as Mark Greif and Sebastian RotellaKindle Singles are set at a good price as well.

Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, wrote Leaving Home, a collection of three short stories that as Amazon puts it: “Leaving Home‘s three emotionally charged stories deal with a gamut of pain, regret, unconditional love, memory, motherhood, and friendship that the author renders almost palpably.”  The first story, “Weights and Measures” describes the trauma of dealing with the loss of a child,  The second is a letter that Picoult wrote to her son when he left for college and the last, “Ritz” is about a mother’s much needed vacation.

Picoult is a master at dealing with controversial issues in some of her most well known novels, My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, Change of Heart and House Rules.  Her next novel, Sing You Home arrives March 1.

octomomMany of the Kindle Singles touch on current issues such as Greif’s Octomom and the Politics of Babies and Rotella’s Pakistan and the Mumbai Attacks: An Untold Story. Richard Cohen got the opportunity to spend some time with John Milius, who wrote the screenplays for the movies, Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn and Dirty Harry. Milius is the basis for the ultra conservative gun welding Walter on The Big Lebrowski.  The Real Lebrowski provides a more realistic glimpse of the infamous movie director’s life and into the world of show business.

Jonathan Littell, the author of Kindly Ones and a war correspondent for Le Monde, provides a harrowing account of the Lord’s Resistance Army campaign in The Congo called The Invisible Enemy.  Thousands of children were captured and made slaves by members of the this horrendous movement.  Littell includes stories from children who managed to escape and from anti-LRA officers.

The selection of Kindle Singles touch on heavy, emotion evoking issues that many of us can relate to at some point or another.  You have a choice of romance, thrillers and first hand accounts of major events, as well as stories from the international stage.  The prices range from 99 cents to $2.99.  So, if you are looking for something short, yet worthy of reading for your Kindle or Kindle DX, these are worth a try.

Nook Still Going Strong in Kindle vs Nook vs iPad Study

It’s gotten to the point where everybody and their grandmother, quite literally in most cases, has their own page on the Facebook, Twitter feed, or something similar these days.  You might even post to them from your Kindle from time to time.  Whole network news stories have formed based off of memes and rumors spreading across the social network giants.  We’re all aware of the pervasiveness of the phenomenon and clearly Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) and Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) are too, given the integration into their eReaders.  So, if you want pure, unfiltered information relating to pretty much anything then it only makes sense to consider pulling the comments from these sources.  Easier said than done though, given the millions of posts being done on every topic imaginable, or none at all, on a daily basis.

In spite of this, we have Crimson Hexagon, a company that specializes in just this sort of data gathering and analysis!  Looking at relevant Twitter Tweets, and no they don’t specific how “relevant” is defined for the sake of this study, they have released a study of the comparative levels of customer satisfaction among owners of the Kindle, Nook, Nook Color, and iPad (though specifying that only tweets specifically related to the iPad’s eReader usefulness are taken into account).

The results are fairly predictable, in a way.  Kindle definitely takes the lead in terms of sheer user comment volume, having averaged approximately a thousand tweets per day against the five hundred or so for the various Nooks.  The iPad came in with the lowest numbers, but that was mainly acknowledged to be the result of culling all non-eReading related posts for the sake of the study.  Both of the Nook types, and the Kindle, had around an 80% positive reaction rate, with the iPad coming in lower due to its bulk and glossy screen as might be expected.  Users preferred the iPad for its versatility, but the displays, affordability, and convenience of the dedicated eReading devices wins out.

One of the more interesting things that comes out of this for me is the positivity of the Nook Color’s reception.  Now, I’ve recently gotten one again and this time I’m forcing myself to hold onto it to stay up to date on what it can do and how it’s holding up by comparison.  That said, I’m still distinctly unimpressed by many things about it.  The fact that this study emphasizes the fact that most Nook Color owners consider it affordable at the current price, for example, took me completely by surprise at first (I would mention library books, but let’s face it…that’s an awesome feature for the Nook that you can’t really be surprised by at this point).  I see two possible explanations.  Either owners in general have little experience with eReaders before they got this one, having put off such a purchase on the basis of “who wants a black and white screen” or something similar, or the fact that it’s basically a cheap tablet PC is boosting its reception out of the eReading community.  I’m not saying those are the only cases in which somebody can like their Nook Color, just that they seem to me like they would have to be the most prominent to see these kinda of numbers.

Still, my own possibly flawed analysis aside, it’s great to see that the Nook product line is still keeping consumer attention.  The Kindle is still the best one for me at the moment, but it would be silly to hope for a market to stay strong with only one good product being offered for it.  It would be really nice to see a hardware update to the original Nook that could give Amazon a run for their money.

Nook 3G Being Phased Out

In an interesting, but not exactly surprising announcement through Engadget, we have learned that the Nook 3G is on its way out.  At this point in time, what 3G models are left are pretty much all there will ever be, so now’s the time to pick one up if you’re interested in the more expensive, if somewhat more accommodating, version of this successful Kindle competitor.

There are a few theories being thrown around to try and figure out the logic behind this move.  One of the more popular ones, though in my opinion the least believable of the bunch, is that this is a prelude to the release of a 3G model for the Nook Color.  Were this to be the case (according to the supporting rationale behind this), the classic Nook model would then be moved to the category of “budget Nook”, given a price cut, and there would subsequently be no room for a higher priced model.  Why do I think this unlikely?  Mostly, there is no chance that Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) is going to do something as silly as putting unrestricted free 3G access onto one such an easily rooted, but highly versatile, device.  Their costs would explode.  Even the existing 3G Nooks have less 3G functionality than the equivalent Kindle models, being completely restricted to accessing the B&N book store.

Another possibility being tossed around, slightly more likely but still not quite making sense to me personally, is that this is a sign that B&N is getting ready to release a new version of the Nook with the improved E Ink Pearl screen, like that of the Kindle.  If this were the case, the assumption is that in order to sell the more expensive model in greater quantity, production of the 3G device would begin earlier than the WiFi model so that early adopters would be left without the option.  This one, however, relies on the assumption that the $50 price increase between the two models represents a significant per-unit profit increase for Barnes & Noble, and I just don’t buy that.  Between the extra hardware and the additional cost incurred in making the 3G coverage contract-free, there simply can’t be that much margin left for profit in such a small price hike.  Much as I hope we see a Nook with a better screen at some point soon, this one is far fetched.

No, this is probably something simpler.  Not the heralding of a new launch or update to the Nook line, but a streamlining of production and a removal of some of the complications of upkeep.  There have already been some reports of people having their Nook’s coverage temporarily denied by AT&T for whatever reason, which has to be one of any number of headaches B&N is enduring. Since they’re pretty much pinning their hopes on a more tablet-like future for eReaders, there’s not as much need for 3G coverage, especially when it is as highly restricted as the early Nook’s was. WiFi isn’t all that hard to come by anymore.  This shouldn’t hurt people all that much.  If all else fails, there’s always the Kindle with its unrestricted 3G coverage.  If you’re completely set on a Nook 3G, however, there’s still time!  Right now they may be turning down bulk orders, but the product hasn’t been pulled from shelves.  Grab one while you can.

Slingo for Kindle

slingoAnother fun and well known game is available for the Kindle and Kindle DX.  This one is called Slingo.  It is a combination of Slots and Bingo.

The board consists of 5 columns and 5 rows.  At the bottom is a row of numbers, one for each row on the board.  If you spin the reel and get a number that matches a number on your board, you get to check that one off.  To win, you need to match the numbers in rows of 5 horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

Important tokens to keep an eye out for in Slingo:

Joker – represents any number, so it can be viewed as a “wild card”

Devil – It takes half of your points.

Cherub – This token saves you if you get a Devil.  It can also double your points.

Coins – When these appear, you get 1000 extra points!

The reviews for Slingo are great overall.  Many of the reviewers have played this game via other methods.


“This is so great! I love playing Slingo on my PC, now I can take it with me. Another great thing is that it helped my grandchildren learn how to manuever the Kindle 2 by playing Slingo. They got use to the small buttons on the Kindle and feel more comfortable using it now.”

Ellen Bridges:

“The only thing missing from this game is the sound. But I never did like listening to the Devil laughing whenever he took half my points, so I enjoy not having to hear him.

This Kindle version is a very good adaptation of a classic hand-held and PC game, and I think it is well worth the price. If Amazon keeps this up, I may have to unload a few books from my Kindle to make room for the games! (Not really, as each game seems to take up the same amount of memory as just one book.)”

R.A. Eskenazi:

“I bought my Kindle to read books..that’s it, just to read books. But I saw that Slingo was available for download and decided to give it a try. Now I wish I hadn’t because it is so darn addictive! I can’t stop playing it! The game is just like the online version. A bingo/slot hybrid. Its a quick game that keeps you occupied. If I have one complaint its that I wish it could have sound. Other than that, its a fun game and works well on my Kindle!”

Free E-books for Newbies (Part II)

If you’ve been in relationship with your Kindle for a while now, then there is nothing new for you in this post. If you are new to the whole e-books searching process, then I will be proud to present you the best source for free e-books available on the internet.

Basically, the biggest chunk of free Kindle e-books is resting on the backs of two elephants: the aforementioned Amazon’s free e-book collection and Gutenberg project.

Don QuijoteGutenberg is the most gorgeous e-book project I have seen so far. It is almost twice as large as Amazon Classics. There is no registration needed for downloading e-books. There are no flashing and eye-irritating advertisements (compared to other free e-book libraries). Gutenberg e-books are available in Kindle-friendly .MOBI format; and usually, there is an option, whether you want to download a book with or without images.

Aside from the enormous collection of classics, Gutenberg has an impressive collection of books in foreign languages – Spanish, Greek, Latin, Russian, German, French, Japanese etc. Maybe I will finally fulfill my dream to read Don Quijote in the original.

It has the majority of well-known old texts, so if you are a History student – you will always be able to find some works of such authors like Herodotus, Thucydides, Plutarch etc.

The universal problem with the quality of free e-books does not escape Gutenberg. Most books are converted in MOBI format automatically, so there is no guarantee that the e-book will look perfectly on your Kindle.

Kindle 3G: The Long Saga How I Bought Kindle 3G and Some First Impressions

Last weekend I spent in Best Buy, waiting for the world’s slowest customer associate to bring me Kindle Wi-Fi.  During the [insert a large number here] minutes of me standing near the Kindle display, and the associate going back and forth: writing down, re-writing and double checking the code in order to check if they have any Kindle Wi-Fi’s in stock, I pondered about the world’s slowest turtles and the meaning of life.  After the eternity, I learned that they do not have any Kindle Wi-Fi’s left in stock.  A logical person would leave the store and perhaps, order the damn thing online.  An irritated person, however, grabs the available box with Kindle 3G with one hand, and holding a sweaty (by this time) Best Buy’s get 10% off coupon (the original reason, why I ended up in Best Buy) with another hand and heads over to the cashier.  Well, the coupon does not apply to Kindle, which says so (the cashier points into the tiny card) in very fine print.  Perhaps, a logical person gets pissed and walks away.  But not me, I like sticking to my plans and that is how I ended up getting Kindle 3G.

So here are my first impressions.

Impression #1: (as I unwrapped my purchase immediately in the car) OMG, it fits in my purse!!!

Impression #2: (as I got extremely hungry, while waiting for the world’s slowest customer associate, I went straight to the restaurant.  I started playing with my new Kindle and accidentally pressed the text to speech button) OMG, how do I turn off this Robocop’s voice reading Jane Austen?

And now, to the serious business.

Pages.  The page-turning buttons are extremely comfortably located.  Flip.  Flip.  Flip.  Ah, it feels nice.

Keyboard.  The arrow keys are hit and miss.  Sometimes, I click and nothing happens.  Sometimes, I do not click and the unwanted things occur.

Also, there is plenty of unused space between the keyboard and the screen: why not have a full keyboard (i.e.  include the number keys)?

Normal headphone jack instead of those annoying custom ones – awesome!

Text to speech feature: nice to have it, but I don’t think I will be using it at all.

Integrated dictionary: priceless!

Wooden Dock for Kindle

kindle dockI just came across a beautiful wooden dock available on Etsy that can be used for either the Kindle or the Nook.  It doesn’t mention the Kindle DX and whether it would fit, but it is worth checking into.  What a neat idea.  There aren’t many docking stations out there that is custom made for the furniture it sits on.   Supply is limited, and it is not mass produced.  The Kindle dock comes in a variety of wood and finishes: cherry, hard maple, oak, hand painted marble and rusty metal.

You can view more information about the Kindle dock here.  Each dock is $18.

Some Free E-books from Forgottenbooks.org

Forgotten Books was recommended to me by a reader, Glynn, who, I’m guessing, is affiliated with this company.   Forgotten Books is an independent publishing company focused on reviving old print.

To tell the truth, I do not really like what Forgotten Books is doing with their free e-books feature.  And the reason being – their free e-books are in low quality .PDF format.  To attain a copy of a high-quality .PDF, a person has to pay a membership fee.  I have hard time understanding, why Forgotten Books are trying to charge for better quality .PDFs for the books that are free from copyright and generally available online for no cost.

Fol Tales From the RussianAlthough, they do have this e-book of the day for free feature – if you sign up for their subscription, you can download their book of the day in good quality .PDF for your Kindle for free.  Today’s book of the day is actually the reason, why I changed my mind and decided to write about this source.  Today’s book of the day is Folk Tales From the Russian by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal (first published in 1903).  The Tsarevna Frog, Father Frost, Baba Yaga and other awesome fellows!  This book is also available on Google Books (in .EPub and .PDF) and on Surlalunefairytales (online only) for free.  Also, it is available on Amazon for $1.75. Russian Folklore tales are wickedly good.   I sincerely encourage you looking into them.

So, I signed up for the subscription and downloaded Folk Tales From the Russian from Forgotten Books.  I have to say that putting a line through the e-book is very uncool of you, Forgotten Books.  Google Books’ version of this book is way better quality.

Perhaps, Forgotten Books’ other books of the day will be as cool as today’s.  And I hope they will improve their not-so-reasonable-for-now free e-book offers.

Free Kindle Books for Newbies

What is the first thing a new Kindle owner does? Right! The dance of joy. Okay, but the next thing?

Dorian GrayAs for me, it was the diving into the ocean of Amazon’s free classics I always wanted to read, but did not have the patience to. Now – guess what, when I’m stuck on an airplane, frankly, I have no escape. Also, getting free classics from Amazon, with their 1-Click feature, is the most convenient way for me to upload the books on Kindle.

Great Expectations – one day I’ll read it, maybe, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I haven’t read it yet. Click.
Well, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is my sacred text I always have on my bedside. Click.
The Picture of Dorian Gray – to have it in my pocket always available for re-reading.  Upload.
The Sayings Of Confucius – to impress one professor I know.  Click.
The Prince – for the same purposes as the book mentioned above.  Click.

However, remember that with free cheese there is always a catch. According to Amazon’s reviewers, some of these books are sloppily edited (missing certain passages and such), which completely ruins the experience if you are trying to savor one of your most favorite books. On the other hand, if you want to get familiar with some works for the general education purposes and you are not planning on conducting an in-depth analysis of this or that character, then perhaps the imperfect, but free editions will suffice for you.

Also, Amazon has a page with limited time offers for certain e-books. Some e-books are listed for a nominal price, some are cheaper than usually, and some are free.

John F. Kennedy inaugural address on Kindle

John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address

John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address

And picking up yesterday’s theme of Google Doodles… You can get the full text of John F. Kennedy 1961 inaugural address on Kindle… In case you are wondering this is the speech that contained the famous and now immortal words: “And so, my fellow Americans. . .ask not what your country can do for you. . .ask what you can do for your country.”

Free Kindle Books on Feedbooks

Feedbooks is a book store, selling books and e-books with an unpredictable price deviation in comparison the Kindle Books on Amazon.  Some books are cheaper and some books are more expensive than Amazon’s selection.  So, before buying a book from Amazon, perhaps, you would want to check it out on Feedbooks first.  You might save a dollar, or two.  Or not.

FitzgeraldHowever, e-books are being sold all over the internet.  Finding places where to buy e-books is not that challenging any more.  So, from this point of view, Feedbooks’ selection of priced books is not much of an interest for me.  I’m on the quest of finding free e-book libraries for your Kindle.  And if you click on “Public Domain” section, Feedbooks provides a limited, but still worthy of checking out selection of free e-books.  The registration for downloading the free e-books is optional.

ForsterOnce you found that special book for your solitary enjoyment, do not press “download” immediately.  It will automatically download the e-book in EPuB format.  Click on the book’s title and then you will have a choice of downloading the book in PDF or “Kindle” format, which is actually .MOBI.

As I already said, by all means, it is not a large free e-book library.  However, you can still find Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which is not available on Amazon for free (the prices vary from $0.95 to $11.99).  Also, there is Cory Doctorow’s I, Robot available for free (not available in Kindle Books on Amazon).  And those, who complained about free Kindle Edition of E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View (missing passages and such), give it a try to this version on Feedbooks, maybe it is better.

Happy reading.

Paul Cézanne on Kindle

Paul Cézanne by Heinz Duthel Amazing Illustrated Biography

Paul Cézanne by Heinz Duthel Amazing Illustrated Biography

As the world celebrates 172 birthday of French post-impressionist artist Paul Cézanne. I would like to point out an illustrated Kindle eBook: “Paul Cézanne by Heinz Duthel. Amazing Illustrated Biography“. Besides the information about Cézanne’s life it also contains dozens of illustrations in the end. Images are in color and of decent resolution, so if you buy this book, I strongly recommend viewing it either on iPad or Kindle of PC app.

Paul Cézanne (19 January 1839 – 22 October 1906) was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavor to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century’s new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. The line attributed to both Matisse and Picasso that Cézanne “is the father of us all” cannot be easily dismissed.

Cézanne’s work demonstrates a mastery of design, colour, composition and draftsmanship. His often repetitive, sensitive and exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognizable. He used planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields, at once both a direct expression of the sensations of the observing eye and an abstraction from observed nature. The paintings convey Cézanne’s intense study of his subjects, a searching gaze and a dogged struggle to deal with the complexity of human visual perception.

Kindle Book Recommendations: Biography

One of the more interesting types of literature for many people is, in my experience, the biography.  Fortunately the Kindle library has plenty of ways to accommodate this interest.  While my taste tends more toward literary figures and such, one of the most popular areas to look at in today’s politically charged social environment is to look back through the historical political biography.  There’s also obviously always a bit of an urge to understand what drove the people who inspire us.  Here’s a few that I hope you might find interesting.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Edmund Morris

Theodore Roosevelt is a figure of fairly mythic proportions in American History.  He was a larger than life figure, practically a legend in his own lifetime, who struggled with problems that we can recognize today with no great amount of difficulty. He worked to combat corporate greed, terrorism, and environmental irresponsibility while making huge progress toward human rights reform and economic expansion. He’s also the guy we have to think for the national park system, if I remember correctly.

I’ll cop to not having read through this one all the way yet, though I did pick up a copy based on great reviews and a good reputation.  If you’ve ever wanted to know more about Teddy Roosevelt, this seems a good bet.  I’d say it’s well worth it.  It’s insane that anybody actually managed to live a life like his.

The Kindle Edition is $9.90

Last Words – George Carlin & Tony Hendra

This is the autobiography(or sort-a-biography) of George Carlin.  I’m going to make the assumption that you know who that is, because it would make me sad if you didn’t. I can’t even begin to say how much of an influence Carlin was on me, and I know I’m not alone in that, so it’s really amazing to get some insight into what made him the man he was.  This isn’t a humor book like his other writings, though there are laughs to be had, but I simply can’t recommend it enough.

It’s rare that anybody can be such a public figure, with so many admitted faults, and still have such amazing personal integrity.  He made it through family trouble, drug addiction, and a number of other problems without descending into the hypocrisy he loathed.  Maybe you wouldn’t like it if you weren’t a fan, I’m not sure, but it is at least worth a look.

The Kindle Edition is $9.99

The Autobiography of Mark Twain: Vol 1 – Mark Twain

Everybody knows who Mark Twain was.  The funny thing is that he knew they would for a long time to come well before he died.  This is the first volume of three, the next of which won’t be released for another 25 years.  It’s a fun read, if a little bit self-serving at times.  This is one place where the Kindle edition really stands out for making a heavily annotated edition easier to read.  All the footnotes, author’s notes, original dictation transcription, etc are hyperlinked to the relevant section of the main text.  Normally, Kindle books make flipping back and forth to reference things a pain, but this time it’s done right.  If you’ve ever been curious about the author we all grew up reading and hearing about, this book provides a lot of answers.

The Kindle Edition is $9.79

Kindle Screensavers – What Do They Mean?

Ever wondered about the story behind the Kindle and Kindle DX screensavers?  Here are a few tidbits about them.  If you ever get a chance to go to New England, you will find the artifacts of the lives of many of these famous literary figures.

Famous Authors, Playwrights and Poets

Harriet Beecher Stowe – She is the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Stowe was born on June 14, 1811 and was the daughter of the well known religious leader, Lyman Beecher.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a revolutionary anti slavery novel that set the anti slavery movement into motion.  Stowe publicly spoke out against slavery and included her views in her other writings.  She wrote 20 books total.  You can visit her house in Hartford Connecticut.  It is right beside the Mark Twain house.

Mark Twain – One of my favorite authors.  He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Both are hilarious, and I love the way Twain writes in the the jilted dialogue that they speak in.  His house is in Hartford, Connecticut, and is a sight to see.

John Steinbeck – Also a favorite of mine.  His most well known novel is The Grapes of Wrath, which is set during the Great Depression, and follows a family of Oklahoma sharecroppers who face economic hardship and desperation.  They somehow manage to hold on to a glimmer of hope for the future as they travel to California to find work and a better future.  Of Mice and Men is another one of his famous works and describes the tragic journey of two ranch workers, one of whom is mentally retarded.

Agatha Christie – Bestselling writer of detective novels.  She has sold 4 billion copies of her novels which is the most copies of books sold short of the Bible.  Many of her books are available on the Kindle, including the Secret Adversary, which is free.

Jane EyreCharlotte Bronte – Well known for her novel, Jane Eyre.  This is a gripping story that involves many plot twists and turns, a tragic fire and a crazy ex wife.

James Joyce – He is most well known for his book, Ulysses.  The protagonist, Leopold Bloom and the other characters of this book are modeled off of Homer’s Odyssey.  Ulysses is one of the greatest works of modern literature.

Virginia WoolfMrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse are two of her most major literary contributions. Woolf struggled mentally with sexual abuse and from nervous breakdowns following the death of her mother and father.  You will find her life experiences reflected in her works.

Alexandre Dumas – He began his career as a playwright, but later switched to novels including Count of Monte Cristo and The Three MusketeersThe Count of Monte Cristo chronicles the resurgence of Napoleon and the events of the Bonaparte family’s reign.  The novel gets its name from an island that Dumas visited where Louis Napoleon, Napoleon’s cousin was imprisoned. It also discusses the racial prejudice against his father, who was of Haitian descent and a general in the French Army.  The Three Musketeers features d’Artagnan, a guard over the musketeers.  The three musketeers are three friends who have an extremely tight bond.  They look after each other at all times.  This novel is the first of three novels in a series called the d’Artagnan Romances.

Jules Verne – One of the founders of science fiction.  Well, what was considered science fiction in the nineteenth century that is.  His novels, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days all explored sea and space travel before they were even invented.  Considering how mainstream those are now, it is really interesting to have historical reference to these ideas as something far fetched or futuristic.

Emily Dickinson – Most of her fame came after her death when most of her poems were Emily Dickinsondiscovered.  She lived in the Dickinson family homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts her whole life with the exception of her brief stint at Mt. Holyoke Seminary.  Death of loved ones throughout her life resulted in a great struggle with depression.  I visited her grave not too long ago, and got a glimpse of her house.  The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson is available on the Kindle

Jane Austen – For more information about Jane Austen and her novels, check out the Pride and Prejudice Kindle Blog Post or the Jane Austen Kindle Blog post.  She does a great job of capturing the social atmosphere of the early nineteenth century.

Durer – An important figure in the Northern Renaissance and one of the first European landscape artists.

Authors Formerly Used as Screensavers

Edgar Allan Poe – He is known for introducing the detective-fiction genre and also was a contributed to the science fiction genre. His poem, “The Raven” was a huge success.  Poe completed one semester at the University of Virginia, but left due to lack of money.  He also tried and failed as an officer’s cadet.  So, you can probably see how his life struggles influenced the tone of his writings.

Oscar Wilde – An Irish writer, playwright and poet, his most well known works are The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being EarnestEarnest is a play that puts a humorous spin on the Victorian social scene.

John Milton
– He served under Oliver Cromwell during a time of religious and political upheaval in England.  His most famous work is Paradise Lost, an epic poem about Adam and Eve, their fall from grace and the consequences that follow.  This poem does a great job of exploring the major issues of the time.

Lewis Carroll – Author of the famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  His tales are unique and great for the imagination.

Symbols and Paintings

Sibylla Samia – depiction of the ancient Greek priestess who prophesied Jesus’s birth in the stable.

“Albertus” page – glyphic, serif font named after the thirteenth century German philosopher Albertus Magnus

Hercules Constellation – Fifth largest constellation and is named after the Greek mythological hero Heracles.  The constellation was named by the ancient astronomer Ptolemy.

Man at table with lion in foreground

17th century astronomer & his wife w/ giant sextant

the Audubon finches-in-a-tree


Illuminated page with Iohannis aquila in upper right corner

Cathedral floorplan

Woman with Book

Kindle 3

Kindle Themed Screensavers

Kindle definition – formerly one with falling letters, now it is the definition with a tree in the background.

Kindle feedback request w/ some sort of coding machine – On the Kindle DX, the feedback email is [email protected]

These are all of the ones I’ve found so far, if you know of any others that I may have missed, let us know!

Some Free E-books on Free-ebooks.net

I am slightly disappointed with www.free-ebooks.net for trying to rip off fellows Kindle-ers, but it might be useful for someone, so I will hide my judging stare away.

111 Egg RecipesI have many problems with this site.  The first one is the domain name – “free ebooks” is kind of a way overboard name for a site with such limited availability of the actual free e-books.

Another issue with this site is that .MOBI format is available only for an upgraded membership.  They have e-books in .PDF format for no charge, but here is the catch – you can download only 5 books per month for free.

One more minor annoyance: they require users to register for downloading e-books.

Also, the site’s content is poorly edited – some book titles have typos, sometimes authors’ names are missing and so on.

So, yes, the site is limiting from all ends.  However, the selection and variety of the books is quite large.  The library is not restricted by the usual classics, to the availability of which we are so used to.  I enjoyed the quantity of “100 Recipes of Something-Something” type of cook books: 111 Egg Recipes, 300 Chicken Recipes, 300 Recipes for the Grill and so on.  I also liked the selection in the Tutorials section.  There are books like: Build Your Own Home Theatre, An Introduction to Pipe Band Drumming, or even How to Create a Garden Pond.

Hence, if you are looking for a very specific book, this is a good back-up source.

Kindle’s Kobo Competition for 2011

While this has been an amazing and record breaking year for the Kindle, we haven’t heard much about the more basic, but highly publicized in its time, Kobo eReader.  For those who may not remember, the Kobo device made a splash a while back when they released the first widely available eReading device at $150.  This is widely percieved to have been the move that prompted both Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) and Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) to drop their prices from the $2-300 range when they did.

Their eReader, simply called the Kobo Wireless eReader, is a fairly basic device offering few of the frills you might expect elsewhere these days.  The idea was a reading device built for the task of reading a book off the rack and nothing else.  It’s not the quickest or the prettiest, but it does get the job done.  Where it shines most is the integration into the Kobo Books Store.  They have traditionally offered competitive prices on a huge selection of texts, often with less restrictive DRM formatting than can be found elsewhere.

All that being said, it seems that Kobo is hoping to give Amazon a bit more competition for that top of the market position this year.  They have a similar selection of reading apps to that which Kindle fans have become accustomed to over the past couple years.  Apps are available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre, PC, Mac, etc. They have agreements with big names like Samsung and RIM to get these manufacturers’ devices preloaded with the Kobo reading app, which will be a big deal in the expanding tablet PC market place, and have stated that they hope to see their software preloaded on over 20 million individual devices over the course of 2011.  Talk about improved exposure…

Where does this leave the physical eReader?  As best I can tell it simply isn’t the focus of a major push right now.  The current incarnation is superior to the first offering, most notably for its wireless connectivity (which was a pain to do without, I can assure you from personal experience),but at heart it’s the same device.  You get your books, they go on a shelf, you grab them and read them.  It gets a little bit interesting when you’re trying to navigate using just the one multi-directional button in the corner, but even that isn’t too bad. It’s just not great, which it would need to be to make a big impression on the dedicated eReader marketplace with the Kindle around.

It’s hard to say at this point whether Kobo has a real shot at securing a large part of the eBook distribution pie.  They’re well positioned, have some good word of mouth going, and clearly have plans for the year ahead, but the competition on both sides, plentiful new distributors and entrenched old names like Amazon, might be a bit too much to make headway.  As for the Kobo eReader, I’m going to say that, personally, I’m counting it out of the race unless something changes.  The competition now is for the media distribution, after all, not so much the hardware.  Not sure who but a long-time customer would pay more for the Kobo alternative than is being charged for either a Kindle or Nook.

Free E-books from BookRix

Here is another emerging resource with free books – bookrix.com. This is not the largest e-book library in the world; it has a little bit less than 13,000 books available for your pleasure. The site has a good and clean design and it is not overwhelmed by ads.

The downside of this library is that it is less Kindle-friendly as we are used to. BookRix offers books in EPub format and that means conversion for the Kindle crowd. Hello, Calibre.

Edgar PoeThere is an optional registration for the book lovers, which is actually a good thing – BookRix has a pretty solid roster of active users. I like when e-book libraries have user involvement, because that usually means there are book reviews. And book reviews help me in deciding which new and unusual book to pick.Joseph Conrad

So if you were thinking to read good old Edgar Poe’s The Raven for free, then welcome to BookrRix ($0.99 on Amazon). Also, BookRix has Joseph Conrad’s Mirror of the Sea available for free ($0.95 on Amazon).

BookRix is an emerging-author-friendly site. So, if you are hiding your first book creation under the pillow, not sure if the world is ready to buy it, but kind of, hesitantly, but surely, want the world to read it for free, then Bookrix has a good audience for you. Try it out! Maybe your baby will get harrypotter-popular!

And, of course, if you are not a snobby classics-only avid reader, then perhaps you will discover a young author you will fall in love (of literary admiration, that is).