Kindle Book Recommendations: Fantasy

I haven’t had a chance to write down any interesting book recommendations for Kindle fans in a while now, but I figure that since I have a decent list piling up it might be time to share.  It’s been an enjoyable couple months of reading and I’ve got several more modern fantasy offerings that I hope you will enjoy.  I did.  They aren’t the cheapest books I could find, but they are definitely worth the asking price.

Kraken – China Miéville

This is really one of the best books I’ve read all year, even if it isn’t necessarily the best thing ever written by the author.  It is a decently complex fantasy mystery set in a London strangely reminiscent of that in Gaiman’s Neverwhere.  It’s a world of cults, secrecy, underworld politics, and strange powers.  On top of that, there is a magically missing giant squid which seems to be at the heart of a plot that could end the world forever.

I’m honestly a little confused about the mixed reception that Kraken has gotten so far.  It is averaging 3 Stars overall in the Kindle Store, but deserves more.  It worked in most ways, but some people may find it a bit off-putting from what I’m told.  While it might not be for everybody, if you think you would enjoy a complex story that forces you to understand the protagonist’s state of mind during unexpected culture shock then I’d say give it a go.

The Kindle Edition is $11.99

Something From the Nightside – Simon Green

This is the first in a fairly substantial series by Green.  It’s a quick, fun read that I can’t describe much better than Pulp Detective Fiction meets Moorcock’s Multiverse.  The main character is a professional detective with no actual detecting skill besides a “gift” that lets him find anything magically.  The fact that it manages to be a fun read is proof of the concept that it can be more interesting to watch a mystery being solved than to understand the process by which it is solved.

In a lot of ways, this reads like the author’s personal homage to all the things he loves in literature.  You’ll catch references, both overt and subtle, to the existence of things taken from dozens of different major genre works you might have read.  After something as dense and complex as Kraken, it makes a great fun diversion.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

This is sort of a harsh take on Harry Potter with a bunch of CS Lewis thrown in for good measure.  Basically, Magic is real and people learn to use it at secret schools where only the best of the best can get in and learn to manipulate the world to their liking.

Unlike many books with similar concepts, this isn’t an uplifting story of wish fulfillment and overcoming adversity.  The characters are undeniably human and manage to overcome the sort of “nerdy teenager gains superpowers” cliche that you might expect at first.  I found it to be a genuinely interesting, and occasionally troubling, look at what it really means to be offered everything you ever thought you wanted. The outline of the story is familiar, but the execution is beyond excellent.

The Kindle Edition is $12.99

Analysts Say Kindle Now Creates Nearly 10% of Amazon’s Revenue

It seems that Amazon’s Kindle is poised to hit something of a milestone in terms of its influence on the company as a whole.  A recently released Citi analysis has come to the conclusion that the Kindle now accounts for just short of 10% of Amazon’s total revenue, if you take into account all hardware and media.  While this would be a big deal in any case, it apparently merits recognition by Citi because of a rule they have which states that any segment of a particular company must achieve 10% of its total business before it can impact the growth rate of the company.  Surprisingly enough, this is not the only bit of interesting information on the report.

We all know by now that Amazon has been selling more eBooks than print books recently.  It seems to be the start of a trend.  When commenting on this development, the report also states that “We believe that industry-wide, eBooks will surpass Print books in terms of sales within 2-3 years.”  Apparently this has held up in the UK as well, where the Kindle has experienced even more rapid adoption than in the US, with Kindle books already outselling hardcovers at a rate of 2-1. They also make note of the fact that Kindle book sales have managed to triple in the past year and show no sign of tapering off any time soon.  This year over 310 million Kindle books will have been sold and next year we are looking at perhaps as many as 751.5 million. That’s a combined total of $3.8 billion from Kindles this year alone and as much as $6.1 billion next year.

Aside from numbers, what does this mean for the Kindle line?  Well, estimates have been favorably improved recently.  Amazon is now projected to sell 17.5 million Kindles this year and perhaps 26 million in 2012.  In addition, the success of the Kindle w/ Special Offers, which has managed to become Amazon’s best selling eReader so far in the short time it has been available, lends merit to the idea that we may see a Kindle priced under $100 by the end of this year. According to many analysts, this is the tipping point whereat the Kindle can feasibly become an impulse buy for customers rather than an investment, giving it that much more influence over the eReading and Publishing marketplaces.

Interestingly, none of the Citi analysis’s predictions for the remainder of 2011 or 2012 make any note of the potential merits of the upcoming Kindle Tablet.  While it has not been officially confirmed, which may well be the reason for the exclusion, it is hard to do research on Amazon at the moment without finding some information pointing out what’s coming.  Given Citi’s use of actual numbers in their sales figures and projections, something that they certainly didn’t get from the notoriously tight-lipped Amazon, it is clear that they go more than a bit beyond press releases and PR interviews.  It could have been interesting to see what their take was.