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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May 2011
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2011 Book Expo America Free Kindle Samples and more

The 2011 Book Expo America brought all kinds of exciting events and upcoming projects for the Amazon Kindle and others.  Amazon Publishing offered author signing and interviews, Kindle excerpts and more.

Amazon Publishing has a collection of free Kindle downloads that provide excerpts and teasers for upcoming releases.  The new releases will be available in the Summer and Fall of 2011.  Some full versions are available for preorder.

This is a great opportunity to test drive some books and authors that you haven’t gotten a chance to try.

We’ve already seen the competition heating up with the latest Nook releases.  I actually got a chance to check ou the NookColor recently, and thought it was pretty decent.  At the expo, Kobo introduced the new Kobo Touch.  It depends mostly on touch screen with the exception of one home button at the bottom, which is similar to the iPad set up.  Based on reviews, the Kobo touch looks pretty clean and can probably hold it’s own in the e-reader market.

The Kobo may sound great in theory, but in order for it to be accessible, it’ll have to have some kind of voice navigation feature.  Currently, the Kindle is way ahead of both the Nook and Kobo readers because of its accessibility features and text to speech option.  The iPad also has a lot of great accessibility features of its own, however, the iPad will be more competitive with the rumored Kindle Tablet than the current Kindle e-reader.


$250 Amazon Gift Card Sweepstakes

Become a fan of Amazon Kindle on Facebook and enter for a chance to win a $250 Amazon Kindle Gift Card.  The sweepstakes ends on June 23.

10 people will be randomly selected, and the gift card can be used to buy all kind of Kindle goodies.  Its even more than enough to buy a new Kindle and a good stock of e-books.

The Amazon Kindle Facebook fan page does a number of sweepstakes from time to time so, check them out, and who knows, you might just get lucky.  The page also has a lot of great Kindle thoughts, reviews and special offers.



Can the Kindle Out-Deal Groupon?

I’ve been giving some thought to the implications of the still fairly new Kindle w/Special Offers as far as directed marketing goes, especially in light of the increasingly common speculation about Kindle Tablet PCs. The fact that this made such a splash, both in terms of controversy and in its success, only serves to emphasize the importance of the concept they are dealing with. It seems like Amazon is in a good position to capture the attention of huge numbers of deal seekers, and that there is some reason to believe that this is exactly their intent in the near future.

We know that people get excited about a good deal, even when it is on something they don’t necessarily need.  The site Groupon has become amazingly popular recently for providing exactly this sort of deal.  You sign up, log in, grab the deal of the day in your area, and likely end up making a purchase that would otherwise either have never occurred to you or been dismissed as wasteful.  They basically rely on the fact that they can localize the deals to the point where hundreds of communities have something interesting going on in their area at any given time.  It isn’t exactly a new concept, but it can be powerful when properly executed.

Amazon is in a position to take a swing at something like this from multiple angles at once.  The most obvious approach is through the newest Kindle.  You have to have an Amazon account to use it in the first place.  Amazon has, as a result, potentially detailed information about the purchasing habits of just about any of these customers and can use something along the lines of their recommendation system to personalize deals to individual tastes.  This is on top of the more widely ranging deal options.  Already we’ve seen things like the $20 Gift Card for $10, which you can’t really go wrong with but which also guarantees Amazon a sale that might not otherwise have taken place.  They also made the acquisition of popular deal of the day site Woot.com last June that offers a framework for even more impulsive buying opportunities.  All of this is in addition to the Gold Box Deals, sales, and otherwise plentiful discount opportunities to be found on any given day on the Amazon.com website itself.  There’s a lot going on here.

If at all possible, I expect to see this concept extended to the upcoming Kindle Tablet as part of the most basic experience of using the site, whether it focuses on media, app sales, or simply referrals.  The success of such an effort would be exactly the thing to allow Amazon to undercut the competition on purchase prices without putting themselves at a disadvantage.  While I don’t expect it will be nearly this amazing, I doubt anybody would mind getting the occasional special offer screensaver on their Kindle Tablet if it means that they get iPad-like functionality for less than the cost of a Nook Color.

Amazon’s Ad-Supported Kindle Comes Out On Top

Not too long ago there was a fair amount of debate over whether or not customers could possibly accept a version of the Kindle which incorporated advertising.  As it turns out, the answer is a resounding yes.  Apparently while there may be any number of knee-jerk reactions to connecting advertising and the reading experience, nobody gets all that upset in practice so long as the whole thing is handled subtly and with the intention of keeping it unobtrusive.  This is good news for Amazon at the moment and might be great news for Kindle enthusiasts in the long term.  It all depends on how the trend holds up.

The fact that you can find the Kindle w/ Special Offers at the top of the Best Sellers list works as a proof of concept as far as ad-supported Kindles are concerned. Customers are willing to buy it.  Their biggest complaint so far seems to be the fact that they had to.  You see, many consumers feel that if they are going to be providing Amazon with revenue from advertising on an ongoing basis, it is wrong for them to expect an initial investment on the part of the end-user.  There is a certain amount of justification to this. It is definitely possible to see that being the goal, given projections that the Kindle may soon be a free or nearly free device.  At the moment, it still needs to prove itself as a worthwhile place for advertisers to buy time on.  Let’s assume that this works out and Amazon has no problems finding companies that would love nothing more than to advertise to readers around the world.  This opens the door for not only the free Kindle, but highly affordable Kindle Tablet devices subsidized by advertising.

There is the concern, of course, that this could prove too tempting a success and result in an intrusive ad presence in eBooks themselves.  I would call this unlikely.  In an earlier interview on the topic, Jeff Bezos mentioned that part of the reason they are choosing to keep the advertising completely separate from the reading experience, besides simply the undesirability of such an immersion destroying addition, is that maintaining the separation improves the impact of the ads when they are shown.  Simply put, more ads would mean less impact per ad rather than more overall impact.  If the advertisers are not seeing results, the whole endeavor flops.

So far we’ve seen Amazon do a great job of anticipating the needs of the customer.  They offer the most full-featured, affordable dedicated eReader on the market in the form of the Kindle and now they are selling it at what is almost certainly less than cost. If they sometimes turn to unorthodox methods to provide customers with the best value for their money rather than following the most vocal demands and desires of the moment, so much the better.  I think there will be a time when the Kindle w/ Special Offers is the only one they continue to offer as a dedicated eReader, but I also see it costing next to nothing by that point.  Any thoughts?

Is Amazon’s Kindle Destroying the Publishing Industry?

This isn’t a new topic, but it also doesn’t seem to be going away.  There are some very loud people convinced that the Kindle spells the end of the book and they’re quite willing to say so.  In a very, very limited way, they’re right.  The problem is that they’re missing the point.

You see, books have come a long way already over the years.  It doesn’t matter if you decide to cite oral tradition, serialized texts, or pretty much anything else as the origination point for the modern concept of the book, it’s not possible to deny that the book as we know it is an evolution from something else.  The transition to the medium we know and love today, which is itself distinct from the books produced prior to the printing press for example, has allowed for more variety and enjoyment to emerge than ever before.  The Kindle, and other eReaders like it, is simply the next stage in the ongoing progression.  It takes the established situation and makes it more efficient to deliver, less restrictive in terms of publication, and more generally accessible overall.

In a way, this is the heart of the problem.  The publishing industry isn’t built around the text.  In the end, it doesn’t matter if they are selling the most amazing piece of literature ever written or the latest exploitation of the vampire romance novel phenomenon so long as people are buying.  The industry makes its money by selling the book as a physical object and offering the person or people who produced the information inside a cut of the profit.  If you take away the paper, their model seems less sustainable.

If anybody sitting at home can do the work to get a novel written, polished, and put up for sale with no need for a middle-man and at a higher percentage than the publishing houses are prone to offering, then what is the point of courting them?  What we need to see now is some initiative on the part of these companies.  What are they bringing to the table?  It isn’t enough to cite history and what they’ve done before.  If the Kindle is supposed to be single-handedly destroying publishing as we know it, you have to assume that it has more to do with what the public considers to be worth their money than it does with Jeff Bezos being an evil genius bent on taking over the world.

If they are going to stay afloat, people need to be informed about what advantages there are in going with a publisher.  The doors need to open up a bit.  If this isn’t enough, then it isn’t a sign that somebody is out to get them, it’s a sign that publishers simply aren’t providing authors with decent value anymore. The industry isn’t changing on a whim, it’s changing because things like the Kindle platform are making it possible for authors and readers to avoid the red tape and pointless markups that are left over from a time when successful publishing was literally impossible without an impressive backer.  We’re moving on.

Is The New Amazon Kindle Hollywood Tablet Meant For Movies?

Maybe it is owing to the fact that the rumored high-end Kindle Tablet is code named “Hollywood”, but there has been some talk going around recently about the possibility that this is going to be a video focused device. The idea is being described as a sort of Kindle for movies.  With the most recent information that has come out regarding technical specs, especially in the context of the last few developments in the Amazon.com media services.

At the moment there are a few ways to get video to your computer.  You can go with Netflix and stream all the movies you want, but really the selection is fairly limited and the quality has a tendency to be questionable at times.  Youtube is generally the cheapest and most widely supported option, but it isn’t usually the best way to find what you want to watch.  Apple will sell you movies, but they seem comparatively overpriced.  Even Cable companies will typically provide On-Demand video for subscribers, but these tend to be the worst of the bunch in any number of ways.  In spite of there being a number of avenues, however, nobody has really come up with an impressive option.  The best choice so far is probably Netflix, but if Amazon can come up with a decent streaming/downloading service selection then it shouldn’t be terribly hard for them to make it work. The Amazon Instant Video Store seems to be a push in that direction and might well be paving the way for the new Kindle Tablet.

The “Hollywood” version of the Kindle Tablet will supposedly be featuring the quad-core NVidia Tegra 3 .  This would make it faster than any other tablet on the market today by a fair margin while at the same time not sacrificing battery life at quite the extreme that a quad-core processor in a tablet would imply.  It would also support a display resolution of up to 1920 x 1200, which is a noticeable step up from the iPad’s 1024 x 768 and would allow for HD quality movie viewing.

While the available information would therefore seem to support the idea of a movie viewing Kindle equivalent, the Kindle Tablet’s other specs remain a big factor.  Without knowing what will be available in terms of storage, connectivity, and display technology it is fairly difficult to figure out exactly what is going on.  Storage may be a moot point, given Amazon’s cloud-based music service and the ability to stream movies, but it would make more sense to allow for full downloads to ensure maximum performance and battery life.  Connectivity would have a lot to do with quality concerns as well, of course.  The display is really the big point.  Since Amazon has basically built an entire campaign based on the shortcomings of the iPad’s LCD display compared to that of the Kindle, we have to assume that they have something else in mind for the Kindle Tablet. Which way they go on that point may well be the most interesting bit of information in the end.

Amazon Kindle Now Sells More Books Than Print

Long before we had the Kindle to play with, Amazon was still making a big impression in book sales.  They got started over 15 years ago now and in that time managed to become the number one destination for anybody wanting to pick up reading material.  This in itself is an amazing achievement for any company.  Then, 4 years back, they introduced the Kindle.  A good situation got better.  In these four years, Amazon has brought the eBook from a fad to a point where sales of electronic texts exceed those of print books in their entirety.

That’s right, it finally happened.  Since April 1st, Amazon’s Kindle Store has sold 105 Kindle eBooks for every 100 print books they have sold in any format.  We knew it was going to happen eventually, of course.  First they outsold hardcovers last July, then paperbacks six months later, and now this.  The speed of the progression is as impressive as the accomplishment itself.

To put this in the proper perspective, a couple things need to be kept in mind.  For one, all of these milestones I mention were factoring in only paid sales.  The free editions that tend to be the first selection of the new Kindle owner were left out for obvious reasons or else this probably would have happened a while back.  Really, how many people make their way through all their free downloads though?

Also, given the timing, this clearly came prior to and had nothing to do with the introduction of the discounted, ad-supported Kindle w/ Special Offers. This means that you can’t consider this more widely appealing Kindle offering to be part of the trend when Amazon lets us know that their 2011 Kindle Edition sales to date have been more than three times those of 2010.  When you consider than in about a month the Kindle w/ Special Offers has become the best selling member of the Kindle family by far, the trend seems poised to continue.

The Kindle Store is now home to over 950,000 titles, including 109 of 111 current NYT Best Sellers.  The vast majority of these titles are priced under $9.99, including the aforementioned Best Sellers.  Again, these numbers don’t even try to factor in the millions of titles that are available for free due to expired copyrights or the many books available through other sources that can be used on the Kindle.  On top of this, new titles are being added all the time including many from Amazon’s successful self-publishing platform.  Over 175,000 books have been added to the store in 2011 alone.

We’ve known for a long time that the eBook was on the rise.  It was only a matter of time before it became the dominant format.  While this is only citing the success of one retailer, Amazon is leading the way.  They have localized stores in multiple countries, are steadily expanding, and continue to distribute the most popular eReader on the market in spite of steadily increasing competition from tablets and competing eReaders.  Even without the upcoming Kindle Tablets, the Kindle is demonstrating an ability to keep up the momentum.

Unique Leather Kindle Covers

leather casesIf you are in the market for a unique, high quality style Kindle 2 or Kindle 3 cover, check out this etsy shop.  The leather covers are handmade and custom designed by Tovicorrie, a small business owned by a couple based in London.

The designs are printed directly onto the cover.  There are some really pretty flower designs, as well as more abstract ones.  So, you have a good variety to choose from based on your taste.  As you can see from the pictures, the case has a snap at the bottom to allow for easy sliding in and out, as well as charging.

The inside of the leather Kindle case is lined with suede to help protect your Kindle from scratches.  The case is also sturdy enough to handle traveling or toting around.  The sturdiness and protection are keys to a long lasting case.

Tovicorrie also has a number of cases available for the iPhone or iPod as well.

Kindle 3G with Special Offers at Last

kindleYay! Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) listened to its customers, and has now added the Kindle 3G with Special offers to the Kindle family.  I’ve seen a lot of comments about this on the Kindle reviews on Amazon’s site, and the Amazon Kindle Facebook page.

Amazon is offering the 3G Kindle with special offers for $25 less at $164.  It includes all of the perks of the Kindle 3G with the addition of sponsored screensavers and ads.  When I was looking at the overview of the new Kindle, I noticed how much the battery life has improved.  Three weeks with wireless on, and 2 months with it off.  That is awesome.

A couple of great special offers include: $10 for $20 Gift Card, and $100 with new Amazon Visa Card sign up.  I wish I had that offer when I signed up for my Amazon Visa Card!  These offers end June 4th and May 30th respectively.

After Amazon’s announcement, there were complaints about how people have just bought the Kindle 3G.  If you have bought a Kindle within the last 30 days, you may still send it back and get the newer special offers version.

Now, is the Kindle DX next in line?  On another note, it will be interesting to see how the tablets Amazon is supposedly working on will affect the Kindle DX.

Amazon is Getting Ready to Release Dual-Core and Quad-Core Kindle Tablets

Continuing the recent trend of slowly filling in the details of the upcoming tablet additions to the Kindle family, we have finally gotten a little bit in the way of technical specs. It is certainly true that you have to take everything these tipsters say with a grain of salt, but the timing seems right for more information to be making its way out and the site that released the information has a fairly reliable track record. Here’s what we’ve got to think about at the moment:

The first of the new Kindle Tablet devices is code-named “Coyote”.  This tablet, seemingly the introductory model, will run on NVidia’s Tegra 2 processor.  Not an unusual choice in the world of Android phones and tablets at the moment, but it seems to do the job fairly well.  While it won’t make the Coyote stand out particularly, there’s nothing to be particularly disappointed by.

The more impressive model is code-named “Hollywood”.  The Hollywood model will be making use of NVidia’s upcoming T30 “Kal-El” quad-core processor.  It will likely come as little surprise to most of you that the quad-core model is likely to be ridiculously fast by comparison.  NVidia has reported that the new processor will be approximately 500% the speed of the Tegra 2.

The only obvious comparison that you can draw at this point in the Tablet PC field is to the iPad.  None of the others have managed to make a particularly impressive splash by comparison.  Given what we know at this point, it would seem that Amazon has opted out of carving themselves off a chunk of the market to call their own and is jumping straight into contesting Apple’s dominance.

Consider what it was that gave Apple the edge in all this.  Yes, they came out with a very affordable tablet and they beat everybody else out.  The biggest factor, though, was their being poised to take advantage of every stage of tablet usage.  You don’t just buy your iPad from Apple, you also need apps if you want to do anything.  In many cases, you can’t even get by with just the app.  You need media to run with the app.  Apple makes a profit off of hardware, software, and media because they get a cut from every single step.  Amazon is now in a position to do the same.  They have themselves some new hardware, an app store, every sort of media you can think of, and an already strong following that while not as extensive as the iPhone owner community was at the launch of the iPad, is still impressive. It is obvious that the first people likely to be successfully targeted for the new device are the many satisfied customers of the Kindle since they have some experience with the company’s hardware already.

As with the Kindle, it is going to take a truly impressive product and an extensive support system for Amazon to hope to come out on top here.  The thing is, they seem like they have that.  Is Amazon going to come out with an iPad killer?  Of course not.  They are likely going to create the first meaningful rivalry that the tablet world has seen so far, though.  It is to be hoped that the Kindle vs iPad competition will do as much for tablets as the Kindle vs Nook has managed so far for eReaders.

AccessTechGeek now a Kindle Blog

accessibility and technology geekI decided to try my hand at publishing my blog on the Kindle Blog platform just to see what happens.  Anyone can submit their blog through Amazon’s Blog Publishing platform as long the blog provides good quality content, and has a niche.

Accessibility and Technology Geek is a disability awareness blog.  I write about how various devices such as the Kindle, iPhone, iPad, etc are being made accessible for people who have vision loss, hearing loss or mobility impairments.  I have friends share their own personal thoughts and experiences so that the blog has a variety of different voices and viewpoints.

The new gadgets, including the Kindle, can be considered assistive technology themselves, and have made great strides in recent years to allow people with disabilities to access them right along with everyone else.  The Kindle includes large font sizes, audio, excellent text to background contrast, and an accessibility plugin for the Kindle for PC application.

One of the reasons why I published AccessTechGeek to Kindle Blogs is to make the blog itself a lot more accessible.  With the Kindle, it can be read anywhere.  Plus, the Kindle fonts can be enlarged pretty big, so it is a easier reading experience.  Sometimes I find that the glare of the computer screen can be really hard on my eyes.  So, reading it on the Kindle can bring some relief.

The blog content is updated daily.  If you just want to give AccessTechGeek a trial run, there is a 14 day free trial for just signing up.

Converter App for Kindle

7 Dragons, the creator of the hit Kindle application, Notepad, also has a cool app called Converter available for just 99 cents.

One of the most useful conversions that Converter provides is temperature.  While the US is on Fahrenheit, the rest of the world uses Celsius.  When my family had foreign exchange students come from Brazil last year, we had to constantly make approximate conversions when we wanted to talk about the weather.  Same situation applied to weights and measures.

Based on information from Converter’s Amazon page, this app includes 76 conversions within these 11 categories:

- Angle
- Area
- Energy
- Length/Distance
- Power
- Pressure
- Speed
- Temperature
- Time
- Volume
- Weight

Converter includes keyboard shortcuts that make conversions easy to do on the fly.  If you’re an avid reader (or gamer) like me, you probably have your Kindle with you all the time.  Quite a handy tool, I’d say.

Since Converter is relatively new, released last week, there aren’t that many reviews yet.  But the gist of it is, you get a great deal for the bargain.  It is very helpful for the average users, but might be a bit too simple for physicists.  Maybe they’ll add more complex conversion apps in the future.

I’ve been impressed with the types of apps that have been developed for the Kindle platform.  In addition to the fun games, there are also apps that can be really useful for everyday tasks.

Free Kindle Textbooks

At first, when I came across this free e-book source, I was suspicious that this website will be our regular free e-book scam full of links that lead to anything, but the e-books. However, after some quality time spent on Open Culture, I was impressed by the textbook section.

To access it, press “Textbooks” on the right top corner. Though, the list of free textbooks is not very extensive, the variety of subjects is pretty nice: Linguistics, Physics, Mathematics, Political Science, Music, History, Biology, Economics & Finance, Engineering, Earth Science etc.

The textbooks are offered in various formats. The reason for this is that the books are hosted on different servers. This is a well selected collection of links that lead to text-books’ locations. For example, A Textbook of the History of Painting by John Charles Van Dyke is actually located on Project Gutenberg site. Hence, there is an option for downloading it in MOBI format for your Kindle. Introduction to Physical Oceanography by Dr. Robert Stewart is hosted by Texas A&M University and it is in PDF format. Calculus by Gilbert Strang is offered by MIT in PDF format.

Also, Open Culture collects the list of the usual classics and links for free audiobooks.

Open Source’s list of textbook perhaps is one of the better lists I’ve seen so far. Hopefully, you kindlized students out there will find this source useful. Happy studying!

Considering a Possible Kindle Phone

The big thing to talk about right now, as far as Amazon and the Kindle goes, is the upcoming Kindle tablet.  While we have yet to receive official word from Amazon about things like release dates, technical specifications, or pretty much anything else, the more recently leaked information indicates the potential for more than just the Kindle tablet or even a series of Kindle tablets.  We could be looking at a version of the same idea scaled down to a four inch screen to compete directly with the iPhone and/or iPod Touch.  Did anybody else see this as a strong possibility in light of the opening of Amazon’s cloud-based music storage service?

Whether one or both comes to be is up in the air yet.  It makes a lot of sense to assume that something along these lines is coming, though.  Amazon already has a marketplace filled with apps that are made for use on an Android smartphone. Of course many of them will scale up just fine to a larger screen for the Kindle Tablet, but they’ll be best represented on the 4″ screen they were made for.  On top of this, the ability to offer a particularly cheap device as part of the new product line will help to ensure a positive reception.

The question of whether or not it will be a real cell phone or simply something to run apps on is still rather hard to speculate on.  Amazon has some existing connections to the world of cellular providers, but mainly due to the need entailed by the Kindle 3G.  To launch themselves into the cell phone market at the same time as releasing their first tablet PC would seem like a great way to complicate things more than they need to be.  This doesn’t necessarily rule it out, of course, since consumers would definitely welcome an affordable, functional iPhone alternative at this point, especially if it uses an LCD alternative that allows for extended battery life as some have considered likely for the entire Kindle Tablet line. Even if there is no specific function as a phone, per se, I can’t imagine that Amazon would miss the opportunity to make them into functional communication devices by allowing things like Google Voice or Skype to run through them.  Since it is pretty much inevitable that the Kindle Tablets will have WiFi, as does everything these days, there will always be plenty of options.

So far there is no solid information on the potential release date for anything in this line of devices besides that it is likely to be in the second half of 2011. Given the scheduled announcement by Barnes & Noble of a new entry in the Nook series, however, it would be completely unsurprising if things are being timed for a bit of overshadowing.  There has certainly been a history of competition between the two ever since the Kindle vs Nook rivalry began.  The exchange should be fun, if nothing else.

Helpful Software Update Tip

My Kindle was experiencing major battery drain, causing me to recharge every 2-3 days.  Since my Kindle is almost a year and a half old I thought it might be time for a replacement.  So I asked around, and didn’t find much in the way of help.  So, I finally called Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) thinking that I’d probably have to replace either my Kindle or battery.

But, it just turned out that I needed to update my software.

Where to Download Software Updates

So, for Kindle 2 users like me, the latest software update is 2.5.8.

Latest generation Kindle users need software update 3.1.

The above pages will provide ways to update the software automatically, or via USB.

To check to see what software update you have on your Kindle,  go to Home, then click the Menu button.  Go to Settings.  Once you are in your settings, you’ll see what current software update you have.  Click the Menu button again, and if you need to update your software, the selection is available, if not, it is greyed out.

Amazon Customer Service

I’m so used to major companies having either automated or poor customer service that I was pleasantly surprised to see that Amazon’s was excellent.  They offer phone call, email or chat options, and give a step by step guide on how to fix the problem.  The software update issue was resolved quickly, and now my battery is good as new.

So, next time you have any issues with battery drain, don’t panic!  It most likely is a simple fix like this one was.

PageBot for Kindle

I’ve written a few posts in the past about how the Kindle can be made accessible for people with visual impairments. The Kindle and Amazon have made great strides towards accessibility both within the device itself and through external attachments.

The latest gadget to join to Kindle accessibility lineup is PageBot by Origin Instruments. PageBot has a number of adaptive switches that can help people with motor disabilities navigate the Kindle’s “previous” and “next” page buttons, as well as the keyboard. I think that is awesome because the buttons are small, and require some muscle strength to use them. Currently, PageBot is available online starting May 12 for Kindle 2 and Kindle DX. The Kindle 3 version will be available in June, 2011.

PageBot is also compatible with Sip/Puff and other switches that are designed for people who are paralyzed or have any other motor disability that would prevent them from using their hands.

PageBot includes a mount for tables, shelves and any other similar surfaces, as well as a foam padding to prevent mechanical shock.

If you are concerned about battery power, PageBot is designed to run on low battery power. So, the Kindle’s battery should be able to handle it quite well.

Official list of features according to Origin Instrument’s website:


  • The Kindle is supported in a rugged mount with facing surfaces of compliant foam
  • Includes a four degree-of-freedom articulated arm with integrated clamp for mounting
  • Dual electro-mechanical actuators for the Kindle’s Next Page and Previous Page buttons
  • Dual switch connectors for interface to adaptive switches with standard 3.5 mm plugs
  • Stereo input capability for interfacing dual switches with a single cable
  • Integrated USB host for adaptive switches that emulate a USB mouse
  • Integrated Keep Awake mode prevents the Kindle from entering sleep after a pause in reading
  • Micro-USB power input for compatibility with the standard Kindle power adapter
  • Optional rechargeable battery pack supports wireless portability and full on-the-go reading
  • PageBot exposes all Kindle features for manual access, including the Amazon Whispernet wireless antenna(s), the stereo headphone jack, the Kindle battery recharge port, and the Kindle’s buttons and switches
  • The Kindle can be inserted or removed from PageBot for convenient sharing with friends and family members

Origin Instruments has a number of other assistive technology gadgets for the iPhone, iPod Touch and others.  I encourage you to take a look at them, and pass this along to anyone who might could use PageBot for their Kindle.  A great way to provide a pleasurable reading experience for all audiences.

Rumor Has Amazon Unveiling Whole Family of Kindle Tablets

It is definitely no longer a secret that Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) is working on a Kindle Tablet.  It hasn’t been for a good long while now.  While Amazon has not officially come out and confirmed or given any details on what we can expect, little by little details are leaking out and causing talk.  Most recently there has been at least one extensive and plausible rumor put outvia the popular Android-focussed site “Android and Me” from a supposed industry insider with direct knowledge of the project .  The new news is different from what we were expecting in some respects, but it generally fits what we know surprisingly well.

Supposedly at this point we should be expecting not just one tablet but a whole family of devices.  There is some question of where Amazon will be drawing the line, but we can expect multiple tablet sizes and possibly a smartphone or iPod Touch-like pocketable device.  This makes a certain amount of sense if you think about the fact that Amazon will be looking to play up the versatility of their app marketplace.  To get the greatest possible diversity of use, it only makes sense to allow the hardware to accommodate a range of different needs.

There was an earlier rumor going around that pushed the idea that Amazon would be going with a specially skinned version of Android 2.3, but that seems to be falling away a bit.  The more recent news indicates that Android 3.0 or later is more likely.  It is even possible, according to the interview in question, that Amazon has been working directly with Google to some extent in order to optimize the experience.

The display type is still quite definitely in question, especially given a recent comment by Bezos that the color E Ink screens are still “not ready for prime-time”.  Even assuming that this isn’t just reticence, however, it does not rule out the use of Mirasol displays or something along the lines of the Pixel Qi display.  Having seen the videos of the upcoming front-lit Mirasol displays that are supposed to be available this fall, I’d say that these are a good contender if there ends up being no further delay in production.

The big question for me personally is whether or not the Kindle tablet will stand out as an open platform.  The big that people are having to the iPad, increasingly since the Apple decision to basically exclude everybody else from making a profit on eBooks by distributing to their devices, is the closed environment and arbitrary enforcement of rules.  Amazon is not perfect in this regard.  Books have been pulled from the Kindle store before without warning.  It would be nice to see this develop as a fairly open marketplace, however.  Competition is good for everybody.

To head off certain concerns, let me say ahead of time that there is no indication that this will be a replacement of the Kindle eReader. In addition to simply being a proven consistent source of income for Amazon, the Bezos interview I mentioned earlier also included the line “We will always be very mindful that we will want a dedicated reading device.”  This is just an expansion of the hardware presence that they’ve been doing well in developing.

Novel Ways to Customize Your Kindle Experience

There are any number of advantages that Kindle owners have over those sticking to traditional paper books.  You get greater portability, prices (in general), selection, versatility, and more.  That does not mean that there aren’t compromises, though.  There are some satisfactions that only old-fashioned paper books can give.  Most of them, from what I have seen, have a lot to do with presentation.  Naturally, in an effort to capitalize on the shortcoming, there have been some interesting things that people come up with to cope.

Kindles to Show Off

There’s something satisfying about having an impressive bookshelf full of your old favorites and collections.  It can be the effort of a lifetime and contain more memories than you could hope to share.  While you can definitely build the memories with eBooks, the Kindle doesn’t work nearly as well when it comes time to impress people with what you’ve built.  That means you have to be a bit ostentatious!  In this area, a company by the name of Amosu Couture can help.

This company has made a name for itself in providing people with disturbingly expensive consumer products dressed up in gold, diamonds, crystal, and other things that generally have little place on a cell phone.  To give you an idea of the clientele they cater to, a shiny leather BlackBerry case will run you just over $200.  Among their newer products, and serving quite well to compliment the £2799.00 iPad variant, is a 24ct. gold plated Kindle for a mere £1199.00.  It isn’t nearly as understated as a nicely equipped bookshelf full of well-loved texts, but if your goal is to impress…

Kindles to Sign

Moving aside from such superficial considerations for a moment, there’s another quite interesting project going on to help develop a substitute method for fans craving author signatures.  At some point in the future, presumably the near future, we’re likely to be hearing more about a program called “Autography”.

See, people who love books tend to grow quite attached to the authors who were good enough to write them.  It’s nice to be able to get an autograph on your favorite book.  It provides a tangible connection and is just generally gratifying for a lot of people.  It’s hard to get the same experience out of the Kindle.  Some people have taken to getting the back of their Kindle signed, which works since generally you won’t get much wear and tear on that area if you keep your Kindle in a case, but it isn’t the best solution.  There’s a pretty limited amount of space to work with if you have a lot of authors you like, if nothing else.

This program will allow authors to take a quick picture with the fan, sign it across the screen of their tablet PC, or presumably on a tablet input device in general, and send it along.  The signed image can them be added into the eBook after the cover page and you have a memory to hold on to.  It sounds like a bit more work than just a signing, but at the same time it’s a bit more extensive than a personalized signature, too.  I would assume that the option will be available to just get a standard postcard type of image with a personalized signature on it in order to speed things up, but for that we’ll have to wait on the release.

$10 for $20 Amazon Gift Card

Heads up for Special Offers Kindle owners, one of the best offers going around now, is a $10 for $20 Amazon Gift Card.  Just put in your special offers code at check out.  The promotion ends on June 4th.

Great way to save on Kindle e-books!

Reviewers say that the ads are not that bothersome.  Who pays attention to the screensavers anyway?  There is also a small banner at the bottom of the home screen.  Thankfully, there are no ads to look at while reading.  That would certainly be a turn off.  If I recall, there will soon be a service that gives the readers some choice of what ads they want to see.

I can certainly tell that many non Kindle Special Offers owners are feeling scammed.  But I guess you can balance it out with the ability to download books anytime you want without worrying about being in a wi-fi hotspot.




Kindle Book Recommendations: Children’s Books

Oddly enough, one of the prerequisites for blogging about the Kindle isn’t a strong rapport with young people.  I’ll admit right off the bat that I don’t know much about kids.  They’re small and high pitched and seem to enjoy climbing on things?  The few I know also seem to really like dogs.  We have that in common!  Anyway, while my practical knowledge of children is lacking I have been encouraged recently, in light of the Harry Potter eBook possibility, to look into some of the children’s lit that is available for the Kindle.  It turns out there is a fair selection out there.

The Giver – Lois Lowry

Chances are good you’ll recognize this one.  The Giver is a classic, after all.  It’s a story about a seemingly “perfect” society where everything is carefully controlled.  Population is limited, careers are carefully selected well in advance for children, there is no crime, no drama, and neither old age nor imperfection have any real place in it.  Naturally this isn’t quite the paradise it seems at a glance.

It’s a simple but powerful book that many people definitely remember fondly with good reason.  Addresses social issues, quite well in an engrossing kind of way that surely fits the educational requirement many parents have for their kids’ reading.

The Kindle Edition is $6.64

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

I was actually rather shocked to find out that this book/series was for children, given all the adults I heard raving about it.  The premise is a cross between Death Race, Battle Royale, and the Survivor Reality TV show.  While it is a bit violent, I’d say it’s definitely less shocking than your average PG-13 movie, so I doubt there will be many parental concerns overall.

The response to this book, the first in a trilogy, has been overwhelmingly positive in pretty much every age group.  The characters are strong and believable.  The plot deals with interesting, if not entirely original social issues.  There’s really nothing at all that I could find to complain about.

The Kindle Edition is $5.00

The Red Pyramid – Rick Riordan

This is the first book in the second series that Riordan has come up with so far.  The first, the Percy Jackson series, you’ve probably heard of because of the movie that came out of it if nothing else. This series is based on a similar concept, but focused on Egyptian mythology rather than Greek.  The story is presented through the eyes of a brother and sister in the frame of a transcript of the story.  It works to provide a fairly unique multi-view perspective as he switches between the siblings, and allows for some variation in the narrative voice that keeps it interesting.

There is a lot more information presented in this book than in the Percy Jackson series.  It is definitely bigger on educating the reader.  This could be because Riordan simply thought it was more interesting to talk about or because he assumed that there was a greater familiarity that you could assume when dealing with Greek mythology, but either way it fits.

The Kindle Edition is $9.39

News of a Kindle Tablet Possible for 2011

Citing certain unnamed but seemingly reliable sources, a recent report has Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) getting ready for the release of their first Tablet PC as early as the end of this year. There have been rumors and speculation flying around for months now about a possible tablet successor to the bestselling Kindle 3, but this is the first solid information we’ve had that opens the door to speculation about release dates.

Apparently Quanta Computer, a Taiwan based company, has received orders from Amazon for a new tablet PC expected to be in demand on the order of 700,0000 to 800,000 units per month during peak demand.  The same report notes that Quanta is expecting to be shipping as soon as the second half of 2011.  Definitely a good sign for people impatient to see what Amazon has up their sleeve.  The expectation at the moment is that the current supplier of Kindle screen technology, E Ink Holdings, will be tapped to provide components for the new device.  When contacted, E Ink refused to make any comment either way.  This would make it the first color E Ink tablet PC, to the best of my knowledge and assuming Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) doesn’t beat them to the punch, which would be quite the accomplishment.  It is also a safe bet that the new Kindle Tablet, whatever it ends up being called, will be running Android Honeycomb.  They’ve set themselves up an extensive app store already that should get the launch off impressively right off the bat.

While at the moment Apple holds the vast majority of the tablet PC market, there’s at least some reason for them to feel threatened at this point.  An affordable but highly functional tablet that is linked to one of the biggest distributors of digital media there is would be exactly what it takes to cut into their profits.  For all we know, this could be the driving force behind the seemingly ridiculous lawsuit Apple filed over Amazon’s use of the title “app store”.

I would not expect the Kindle Tablet to stand out based on its hardware.  Amazon is positioned in the best possible spot to take advantage of the profit potential in content distribution.  This means keeping costs down and making sure that the device gets into the hands of as many people as possible, explaining the 800,000 unit per month estimation. Chances are good that the new tablet will be just powerful enough to handle video streaming in order to pull in the Netflix and Hulu users, but nothing more extensive than that.  The Kindle vs iPad competition won’t be based on the superiority of the technology so much as who makes the better sales pitch on the software.

Amazon won’t be the first company to try to take a chunk of the tablet market away from Apple.  There are tablets aplenty to choose from these days, many of which on paper are approximately as good as or better than the iPad.  Nobody’s likely to come out ahead without a content distribution system like Amazon’s, however.  This may be the turning point.

Barnes & Noble to Release New Kindle Competition

There has been a lot of speculation going around about the possibilities for the next generation of the Kindle competitive Nook eReader.  Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) announced quite recently that on May 24th 2011 we will be hearing all about their new eReading device.  Other than that, there’s little to go on so far.

The Kindle vs Nook competition has been an ongoing factor in the advancement of the eReading industry as a whole.  Amazon finds a way to extend the Kindle’s battery life, and B&N follows suit.  B&N brings a couple games to their eReader and now you can find bunches of even better ones in the Kindle Store.  It’s all about one-upsmanship.  Though there were obviously other factors involved this was a major force in driving eReader prices below the $150 in the first place.  It has only ever worked out to the benefit of the consumer.

These days, B&N has been concentrating on the Nook Color for a while now and as a result is pretty much out of the game.  The Nook Color is an amazing mini-tablet and can be a lot of fun.  It even has some definite advantages over the Kindle for particular uses.  It does not push things very well in a one on one feature comparison, however.

I’m hoping that this announcement addresses that with the first major update to the monochrome Nook’s hardware.  At the moment the Kindle is significantly lighter, easier to read on, faster, and has far better battery life.  The comparison definitely stands a bit one sided at the moment.  That said, it is hard to imagine where there is room for enough improvement to put a Nook product back on top.  The shortcomings of the Kindle, such as they are, have more to do with the software end than the hardware these days.

It is more likely that we’ll be seeing an update to the Nook Color.  The most recent software update for that device has made it capable of taking on the iPad in a limited sort of way, opening it up to a large variety of apps and drastically improved functionality.  The whole Nook Color endeavor has been such a success for B&N that it seems difficult to imagine that they won’t seize the chance to capitalize on the success with a boost to the somewhat underpowered hardware.

There is a lot of money to be made in digital content beyond the eBook and with Amazon seemingly poised to drop their own Tablet PC by the end of the year, now is the time for Barnes & Noble to get the jump on a serious entry into the marketplace.  Who knows, we might even end up getting the first color eReader with an E Ink screen from them?  Even without that, if they can keep the price down enough it will be a big hit.

Kindle with Special Offers and Amazon Visa Deal

kindleWow, owners of the new Special Offers Kindle can gets some pretty sweet deals through Amazon (NASDAQ: Amazon).  One of the current offers is, when you order select bestsellers or classics for your Kindle, you can get a $10 Amazon.com credit.

The additional catch is that you have to use your Amazon visa card.  Now I will say this, I recently got one, and have heard great things about it.  You get points with your purchases, and can get extra points for purchases from Amazon.  Once you accrue enough points, you can redeem them for amazon.com credit and many other goodies.  So far, there haven’t been any annoying fees or promotions that most credit card companies push.

Some of the bestsellers include the recent hit Water for Elephants, The Hunger Game series and Michael Lewis’s The Big Short.  You’ll also find classics from old favorites such as Mark Twain, the Bronte sisters, and Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables).

Check out this page for a complete list of bestsellers and classics that you can choose from.

The current offer goes until May 21st.  Happy reading!


What to Buy: Amazon Kindle WiFi vs Kindle w/ Special Offers

There are more options than there used to be when thinking about which Kindle it is that would suit you the best.  You can go with anything from the $379 Kindle DX to the $114 Kindle with Special Offers and you are certain to get the best value for your money, but that doesn’t really help much with the decision.  Since the ad supported Kindle is the newest and most easily misunderstood of the line, let’s look at that one a little closer.

The best comparison is between the new Kindle and the older Kindle WiFi.  Mostly this is because they are exactly the same thing.  This is probably already common knowledge, but it’s worth reiterating.  The Kindle with Special Offers is just a Kindle WiFi with advertisements thrown into a couple places that have nothing to do with the reading experience. You will even eventually get a chance to choose ahead of time what you find least objectionable in an ad using the soon to be released AdMash service from Amazon.

Now, plenty of people have been offended by this concept.  A lot of the objections have centered on the popular opinion that advertising has no place around books.  It’s a little bit difficult to understand this point, given that most paperbacks will already have lists of other books by the publisher or even preview chapters for future books in the last few pages, but it’s a point that gets brought up a lot.  To me, this is a lot like getting upset that the local Borders has up banners advertising an upcoming sale.  If the ads don’t actually show up while you read, you’re not too likely to notice them.  Even the ones that are there while browsing your library are small and unobtrusive to the point of being almost unnoticed.

The other big objection that comes up time after time is to the fact that you have to pay for the device at all. After all, if Amazon is making money off of selling ad space then why should you have to pay for the hardware in the first place?  This one is a bit more understandable, but it’s a bit premature.  I could definitely see the Kindle becoming a completely free device in the future based on the sales of ads, but it is still an unproven money-maker for Amazon and it just wouldn’t make sense to give anything away yet.  As it is, you get a chance at some cool coupons, you save $25, and you aren’t stuck looking at an endless procession of author portraits.  Honestly, it can’t really be more annoying than most of those, anyway.

As always, no matter which option you go with you’ll be getting a great reading experience.  It’s just a matter of the little details relating to the shopping and shelf-browsing that will be different.  My personal take is that you can’t really go wrong getting the Kindle with Special Offers because there’s never a reason to complain about saving $25 and you’ll miss the majority of the ads anyway just by closing your case.  It’s all a matter of where you choose to place your priorities.

Amazon Pulls Some Explicit Comics From Kindle Store

Amazon has recently decided to exercise their policy regarding explicit material to remove a selection of yaoi manga from the Kindle Store, much to the dismay of a vocal set of Kindle owning manga enthusiasts and anti-censorship enthusiasts.  The decision is based around rules prohibiting “Pornography and hardcore material which depicts graphic sexual acts”. Pretty understandable, I suppose, but it’s an oddly complicated situation.

First off, there’s the matter of precedent.  Many of the now-denied manga offerings are analogous to previously approved titles, according to their publishers, and at least two of the titles in question were previously in the store and only recently received updates that apparently brought them to the attention of whoever happened to make the latest decision.  While you cannot fault Amazon for enforcing their own stated rules, the fact that the enforcement is selective and at the discretion of the company without terribly specific guidelines is troublesome.

There is also the fact that one of the Kindle store’s largest sections at present is their erotica section, which contains thousands of depictions of potentially offensive material and remains pretty much untouched.  Some have connected the attention received by this particular brand of manga to the fact that it depicts homosexual romance between men.  It would not surprise me at all if that fact, highlighted by user complaints from somebody hoping to police the perceived morality of their favorite shopping venue, were what started this whole mess.  Since the first I heard of this, however, several heterosexually oriented titles have met with similar complaints.

This definitely leads to the conclusion that no matter how all of this began, Amazon is stepping up its enforcement practices.  Will this extend to depictions of possibly offensive content that are not being displayed graphically?  It seems unlikely Amazon will be going through the Kindle Store and deleting thousands of selling titles, but to single out one particular area that is no more guilty than the rest is a bit hypocritical.

There are some moves being made to organize boycotts and emails, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.  Some twitter users have even revived the once popular #amazonfail hashtag to raise awareness of the situation. Whether you care about yaoi or not, there would seem to be an advantage for all of us in keeping selective censorship out of the store as much as possible.  If they’re going to enforce well defined standards uniformly across all eBooks, that’s one thing.  When the rules are being applied on a case by case basis depending on the personal interpretations of individual judges at Amazon, it’s a problem.  The Kindle platform is one of the best things about owning a Kindle eReader, mostly because of the impressive selection.  If the central distribution point for all of our reading material becomes a bit irregular, it’s to all of our disadvantage.

While it is hard to say at this point if Amazon is likely to back down in time, chances are good that they’ll hold to their decision for the immediate future. If you’re interested in one of these titles and see it in the Kindle Store, it might be a good time to consider picking it up.  No eBooks that have already been purchased will be removed from user accounts, they are simply being made unavailable for future sales.