Hunger Games Trilogy Named Best Selling Series of All Time on Amazon

Hunger Games Book 1Suzanne Collins’s mega bestselling series, The Hunger Games Trilogy, is now the bestselling series of all time on Amazon.  This series has even beaten Harry Potter.  All three books are available in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library to to check out for free.  For those who aren’t Prime members, all of the books run about $5 each.

The trilogy takes place in post-war United States.  The new country is called Panem, and is composed of 12 districts that each provide different goods for the Capitol.  District 13 was supposedly destroyed when the Capitol took control.  The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen and her family live in District 12, the smallest and poorest district.

The Hunger Games is a lot like the Olympics, except that it is a group of teenagers who are put in an arena.  The 24 young tributes fight to the death until there is one remaining victor.

The Hunger Games

The first book in the dystopian series introduces the reader to the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, her best friend Gale, and fellow tribute, Peeta, along with many other interesting characters.  Katniss and Peeta represent District 12 in the Hunger Games.

Catching Fire

Katniss and Peeta are in for another fight for their lives.  The whole country of Panem is stirred up, and on the brink of rebellion.  Surprisingly, this book sucked me in a lot more than the other two.

Mockingjay

The final book in the trilogy covers the full on rebellion in Panem, with Katniss as the Mockingjay.  The Mockingjay gives them hope for a better future.  Will the Districts succeed in taking the Capitol?  It is yet to be seen.

I’m keeping the summaries short to avoid risk of spoiling anything for those who have not read the series yet.  The obstacles that Katniss, Peeta and others face are just downright bizarre.  But, there is a very human aspect to the books as well.  That’s what drew me into Harry Potter, and has done the same with the Hunger Games Trilogy.

The writing style and Katniss’s point of view also makes this trilogy so easy to relate to despite the brutal circumstances.  The reader gets a glimpse of her thoughts, emotions, reactions to various situations, and her feelings for the people around her.  I also love the sense of humor.  The characters find humor despite the dire circumstances.

 

 

 

 

 

Kindle Library Lending Off to a Slow Start

Kindle Library Lending debuted last year, and has shown modest growth, but has a ways to go before it really takes off.  The number of libraries that offer the service has grown tremendously, but the selection of books offered has not.

My local library offers access to e-books for the Kindle, Nook, and other electronic devices.  But, I rarely find anything I like.  If I do, it already has a waiting list a mile long.

One of the biggest barriers to the program is reaction from publishers.  The Big 6 are having a hard time relinquishing their books for borrowing because they’re afraid that it will make a big dent in sales.

I read an article earlier today that got me thinking more about this dilemma, and I began to mull over ideas suggested in the article that might help them get over their fears.

E-books are easier to get and transport than regular books.  So publishers are afraid that book sales will go the way of music sales did about 10 years ago.

I think with careful handling through licensing, a compromise can be reached.  The result would be a benefit for both libraries and publishers.  By adding e-books to their collection, libraries can shake their old stereotypes and offer something that is new and exciting.

For publishers, the benefit is the exposure to books that can lead to a purchase.  There are people who borrow books from a library, like them a lot, then purchase them to read again.

Another option is to join Amazon Prime and use the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  It has a much broader selection, but you can only check out one a month.  I have checked out a lot more books from there than from my library.  I am currently waiting very impatiently until the next month to download the third book in the Hunger Games Series on my Kindle.

I think it is important to still get the word out about e-book borrowing in libraries.  Increasing the demand for books can’t hurt.  Just remember, it is the publishers not the libraries themselves, that are setting the book limits.  I hope to see a future where both print and e-books will be readily available to library patrons globally.

 

 

 

Kindle Fire Release Rumors, and What is More Likely to Happen

There is a major rumor going around that six different Kindle Fire models will be released next week.  The six models may include different screen sizes, resolutions, and who knows what else. These rumors are coming from reputable sources, but no one will truly know what is going to happen until the tablet is actually released.

If that does happen, it will most likely be a 7″ updated Kindle Fire, and a 10″ tablet to compete with the iPad.  These two will possibly have 3G and wi-fi options.  The current model only has wi-fi.  Then a refurbished first generation Kindle Fire will be available at a discounted price until supplies run out.

So the focus will more likely be just two different kinds of tablets that have different connectivity offerings.  That is similar to the set up Amazon currently has with their e-ink Kindle models.

Both 7″ and 10″ models have some heavy competition from the Nexus 7, and of course, the iPad.  Amazon’s advantage will be the books and apps because there are so many of them.  I’m sure they’ll also come out ahead with the price.  In addition to these features, the Kindle Fire will need to include a camera and an updated display to remain competitive.  It makes my head spin to think about the cutthroat competition going on out in the tablet market.

One thing I’d like to see for the 10″ Kindle Fire, if released, is a keyboard. The biggest frustration I’ve had with my iPad is the inability to do more heavy duty computing.  A lot of this comes from the lack of a fully integrated keyboard.  An example of one is the soon to be released Microsoft Surface tablet.  It comes with a smart cover that houses the keyboard.  If Amazon can pull this off plus debut at a price to beat, they can pull some potential iPad consumers towards the Kindle Fire.

So, we’ll see what happens.  This holiday season’s going to be jam packed with tablet options.  That’s for sure.

 

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is a fictional account of a 50 year old Harvard psychology professor with early onset Alzheimer’s.  It is available in both Kindle and paperback editions.  This book has won numerous awards and had a long run on the New York Times Bestseller List.

I discovered this book while searching through Goodreads recommendations.  Goodreads has introduced me to a lot of different authors and genres I would never have heard of otherwise.

It is simple, yet poignant.  The book is written from the perspective of the Alzheimer’s patient as opposed to the more common caretaker viewpoint.  So, the reader gets a first hand glimpse into the daily tasks and emotions from the patient herself.

Most people think of Alzheimer’s as affecting only the elderly.  In a majority of cases those people are beyond retirement age.  Before Alzheimer’s struck, Alice held a jam packed schedule full of lectures, research, and teaching.  The aggressive disease took all of that away from her.  It not only takes a toll on her life, but on her family and friends as well.

The writing itself is really direct, with no frills.  Sometimes there is a bit of disorganization in the flow of the plot, but in a sense, it represents Alice’s train of thoughts.

Still Alice has glowing reviews.  Many of the reviewers suggest that everyone affected by Alzheimer’s in some way should read it.  I also saw multiple reviews saying how accurate Genova’s depiction of the disease is. The fictional account has a loose connection to the author because she is a Harvard educated neuroscientist herself.

Vicki Evans

“Wow! This book is so realistic and, for me, a real tear-jerking read. I teach high school and I have always told my students that if a book can draw you in, make you live vicariously through a character, and somehow help you with life experiences, then it’s a good book. This book did that for me and so much more.”

Genova has another bestselling novel: Left Neglected out, and will release Love Anthony on September 25th.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

I’ve been on a reading binge lately, both print and on my Kindle.  The latest book I read was called Sisterhood Everlasting.  It is the fifth installment of the bestselling Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

Sisterhood Everlasting will appeal to those who grew up along with the previous books.  The first four are more for the young adult audience, and the series finishes when the friends are still in college.  I actually didn’t discover them until I was already in college myself.  That was when the original movie first came out.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series consists of four friends, Carmen, Tibby, Bridget, and Lena, who all grew up in the same town.  They all have very different personalities.  They find a pair of pants that carry special meaning. It goes wherever they go, kind of like a Flat Stanley type of thing.

Sisterhood Everlasting is set ten years later.  The author took a break to write other books and explore other things, then came back to revisit her characters in this series.  The four teenagers are now almost 30, and are each finding their way in the life of being an adult.  Work, marriage, children, etc.  I could really relate to the post college craziness of trying to find my way in the “real world.”  This book is emotional to say the least, and the author does a good job of getting into the heads of her characters to capture what they were thinking.  Especially how they each handled grief in their own way.

This book has goes a lot deeper than your typical beach read.  I highly recommend it.  After shopping around, the Kindle and paperbacks are about comparable in price.  The handy part about the Kindle edition was that I could sneak a few pages during breaks at work on my phone’s Kindle app.

The following reviewer sums up Sisterhood Everlasting quite well.

Laura OC

“While I like most readers enjoyed growing up with Lena, Carmen, Bridget, and Tibby throughout the first four sisterhood books, the fifth addition to the series makes the story real and even more relatable for me. Sisterhood Everlasting shows us the consequences and joys of life decisions and that while a friendship between girls may be undeniably strong, it cannot fix all problems.”

 

Nexus 7 Thoughts

I have to hand it to Google.  They, along with Asus have put together a tablet that should do well in the market.  Based on my experience with an Asus laptop, it is a great company.  According to reviewers who have had a chance to get their hands on the Nexus 7 claim it is solid and easy to use.  It is going for a competitive $199 price, the same price as the Kindle Fire.

Good news for Android lovers.  The Nexus 7 will run on the latest Android operating system, Jelly Bean.

Here’s the catch. Google has a tendency to release a lot of projects that show promise, then they fizzle.  Note Google Wave, and Google Buzz.  Even Google Plus hasn’t found a strong footing.  They’re very innovative with their ideas, but they don’t quite follow through from start to finish.  If the tablet went in the same direction, technical support would be mediocre at best.

An advantage that Amazon has over Google as far as tablets are concerned, is seniority. Over the past year, Amazon has built up a robust app collection for the Kindle Fire.  It is also the front runner on books, which is the way it should be considering that books are what Amazon is most known for.

The 2nd generation of the Kindle Fire is expected to release on July 31 with a camera and other much needed tune ups.  So, if you can wait a month,  see what this new version has to offer, and then weigh it with the Nexus 7. Chances are that Amazon will include a lot of the features that the Nexus 7 currently offers that the first generation Kindle Fire doesn’t, such as a camera.

When it comes to buying technology, I try to wait til the 2nd generation or later.  I did this with my Kindle, iPad, and phone.  The price goes down and the device gets a tune up.

Google’s biggest asset is search engine technology.  Different companies excel at different things.  I think they have what it takes to make a good 7 inch tablet that can be competitive.  The question is, will they go the extra mile and make it better than good?

As consumers we have options that can fit different preferences as opposed to being locked into one device, which is awesome. I’ll be watching closely to see what happens with the new Google tablet, and how it will fare in the tablet market.

 

Kindle Touch Hidden Gem

There is one issue with my Kindle that I wish Amazon would make more intuitive.  That issue is deleting books directly from my Kindle.  I understand that there is a lot of room for books on the device itself, but often, people would like to get rid of books that aren’t really serving any purpose anymore.

On my Kindle 2, I just slid the 5 way toggle button to the side and it gave me a menu option to remove a book or game from the e-reader.  I just figured out how to do this randomly when I was maneuvering around on it.

Figuring out how to delete books are little more difficult on the Kindle Touch, but once you know the trick, it is quite easy.  If you have an iPad or iPhone you have to press down the app for a few seconds, and an x will pop up and allow you to close or delete the app.

Using this same idea based on the iPhone delete commands, I pressed down on a book on my Kindle’s Home screen for a few seconds and sure enough, a dialog box popped up giving me an option to delete the book.

So why is this worth mentioning?  Now that you can check out Kindle Books from the library or Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, there are a lot of books coming and going.  When you return a book, the title still shows up in the list, and says “recently returned.”

Frankly, they are annoying, and can really clutter up the device’s library.  They also hide the books you actually need or want.

A friend asked me once how to do this, so I thought I’d pass it along in case you were wondering the same thing.

And don’t worry, even if you delete a book from your Kindle, it remains stored in your account on Amazon.  You can always re download it on any Kindle or Kindle app supported device at any time.

 

 

The Tablet Divide

When I got my iPad, I also got an external keyboard.  It worked okay, but since it wasn’t directly integrated with the tablet, it did have some lag time.  My biggest hope is for the tablet to merge with the laptop.

I was unsure of how long it would take for this to happen until the release of the Microsoft Surface tablet.  It has a keyboard built into its cover.  This is the catalyst that will nudge tablets towards a hybrid laptop/tablet deal.  I’m really excited about this new development because it eliminates the need for both a computer and tablet, adds portability, and increases accessibility.

Now, to my point.  Rumors are indicating that Amazon is set to release a 10.1 inch Kindle Fire.  How much of this is just wishful thinking, it is hard to tell.  I have no doubt that the online retail giant can create a competitive larger tablet, but will they lose their original focus?

The competition gap and functionality of large and small tablets is widening.  Larger tablets more computer like in terms of power, whereas smaller tablets such as the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are more for gaming, reading, and internet browsing.

I would love to see Amazon create a Kindle Fire that would provide both an optimal reading experience and serve as a multi purpose device.  There really aren’t that many major adjustments for e-ink Kindles left, at least not any that we know of at this point.  We’ll get a glowlight version this year, and maybe color next year.

Maybe a few years from now, the technology will be there to do a hybrid e-reader and tablet.  But, considering how quickly technology changes, there may be something completely different hitting the big market by then.

So, basically, I think Amazon definitely has the resources to build a larger tablet that will sell well.  But, I would like to see them hang on to their core mission: a better reading experience. Better to excel at one or a couple of products than to make a slew of mediocre ones.

 

$79 Kindle Gets a Tune Up

The basic, non touchscreen version of the Kindle just got a new update.  The update includes improved readability, parental controls, and better support for graphics.  Good to know that this model is still getting some attention since most of the focus seems to be on the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire.

The text display is supposedly sharper and intends to provide better readability.  I have a Kindle Touch.  I am curious to see how the displays compare for both versions.  Since the $79 Kindle has physical buttons, it probably doesn’t experience the issue with text trails or shadows that the Kindle Touch does.

The best part of the update in my opinion, is the ability to view comics in side view.  The e-ink Kindle is so close to the nature of traditional comics, as opposed to the bright tablet screens, that it is only natural that it would include accommodations for better viewing.

For children’s books, the update includes Kindle text pop up, the ability to zoom into part of the screen.

Books that allow zooming have that capability.

I’m not sure how important adding parental controls is because the web browser isn’t all that easy to use to begin with.  However, a lot of young kids got this model since it is inexpensive and simple to use, so having parental controls is a nice feature to have.

With all of that said, the manual download is available for those who want to go ahead and get the new update.  This is also handy for those who don’t have wi-fi access.

If you’re willing to wait, the update will download automatically onto your Kindle sometime soon.  In their usual fashion, Amazon is being vague about when exactly it will happen.

Stay tuned.

$.99 Sale on Children’s Books for Kindle

For a limited time, there are almost 50 children’s books on sale for .99, usually around $7.  All of these are for the Kindle Fire.  How fitting that they are in full color.  That will definitely grab kids’ attention.

The collection includes a variety of classic fairy tales and parables.  Think The Velveteen Rabbit and Jack and the BeanstalkThe Velveteen Rabbit is a must have since it is such a poignant story. The Three Little Pigs and Red Riding Hood also made the list.  I also noticed a few that I didn’t recognize.

The books include music and narration by celebrities including Meryl Streep.  These features make the story much more interactive.  That’s not to say it isn’t just as enjoyable to play narrator yourself.

I will be very interested to observe how well perceived Kindle Fire children’s books are in the immediate future, as well as over the next decade or two.  It is still a very new thing, but will probably become more mainstream as tablets become more widely adopted.

The vibrant colors of the digital book creates a much more exciting visual experience than an old worn out print book does.  But, both forms have their advantages and disadvantages.

Many of the books on sale include Kindle Text pop up.  This is a cool feature that zooms into selected text with a couple of finger taps.  Once you’re done, you can just double tap anywhere on the screen and go back to normal view.

I don’t see very many reviews of the books available in digital format on the Kindle Fire yet.  Again, it is still very much a new idea, but the steep discount should at least be an incentive to give them a try.