Random highlighting

The Kindle now lets you see what other readers have highlighted. I look forward to the day when I can filter this by what my friends have highlighted.

I find what people highlight in fiction books is baffling. For example, is this quote meaningful to you?

Jace didn’t take his eyes off Simon; there was an electric anger in his gaze, and a sort of challenge that made Simon long to hit him with something heavy. Like a pickup truck.

It was to many others. They highlighted it. Is it memorable because of the pickup truck? If not, why? If so, is that really the most memorable thing they’ve read today? If so, I have a few RSS feeds to recommend.

I love reading things my friends recommend through Twitter and Google Reader. Kindle highlights, which are not by friends but by everybody, have not been so interesting …

Kindle Covers Reviewed

I reviewed three Kindle covers for my latest generation Kindle 3 Wireless Reading Device and found the perfect one.

Three Kindle covers

I tried out 3 covers, the M-Edge GO!, the M-Edge Latitude and the Belkin Grip Sleeve.

LatitudeThe M-Edge Latitude Kindle Jacket is the one I liked best for my Kindle 2 but unfortunately they changed the material. The new jacket is a lot stiffer, less pleasant to hold and did not fold over very well for reading. So if you have a Kindle 2, I recommend the Latitude jacket, but not for a Kindle 3.

The Kindle does fit very nicely and snugly into the jacket and I felt like it protected my Kindle better than either of the others.

BelkinI also tried a Belkin Grip Kindle Sleeve that I really liked. It was very light, padded and very comfortable to hold. I didn’t however want a sleeve. For sleeves, you take the Kindle completely out in order to read. This means that when you are holding your Kindle, or when you set it down for a second, it’s not protected. I imagined setting it down on the arm of the sofa and then having the dog or one of the kids knock it off. With the sleeve sitting on the table beside it … But if you are looking for a sleeve, I would recommend the Belkin one. It’s light weight, feels nice and has good padding without being bulky.


m-edge

The M-Edge GO! Kindle Jacket is the cover I decided to keep. It’s a very nice pseudo leather and adds no bulk or weight to the Kindle. (An improvement over the Kindle 2 version which was rather heavy.)

I enjoy carrying it in my hand and it fits into my briefcase quite nicely, taking up almost no room at all.


Please let us know what cover you end up buying!

How you can upgrade from a Kindle 2 to a Kindle 3 for less than $30

Kindle 2, Kindle 3 and iPad by andyi

Are you wondering if you should buy a Kindle 3 if you already have a Kindle 2? Or whether you should buy someone a Kindle 3 if they already have a Kindle 2?

The answer is yes. Not only is the Kindle 3 better than the Kindle 2 but you can also sell your used Kindle 2 on Ebay for about $160. Since a new Kindle 3G is only $189, that means you might upgrade your Kindle for less than $30!

5 other reasons to buy a Kindle 3 even if you already have a Kindle 2:

Comparing the screen quality of the Kindle 2 versus the Kindle 3 by OmegaPoint

  1. The picture is better.
  2. The pages turn faster. After using my Kindle 2 for so long, I’ve gotten used to hitting next page before I reach the end of the page because it takes a few seconds. The Kindle 3 turns pages much quicker.
  3. The battery lasts longer. My Kindle 2 battery lasts plenty long if I leave the wireless off. However, I like to keep my place synchronized on Amazon, so if I have a moment to read a few pages on my phone, it knows exactly where I left off on my Kindle.
  4. It’s smaller. It’s a bit smaller (half an inch in width and height) and lighter (1.5 ounces) but the screen is the same size.
  5. Someone else in the household can now have a Kindle with all the same books on it! (If you don’t sell it on eBay!)

Yet another feature request for the Kindle (or any eReader)

Dear Kindle developers,

Please make it easy for me to buy the next book in a series.

When I finish a book, if there’s a sequel or another book in the series, please say “Click here to purchase the next book in this series.” I would click here.

Now I have to make sure I know how to spell the author’s name, go to the Kindle store, search for the author and then figure out which book is the next one in the series I’m reading.

Thanks very much.

Stormy

P.S. If your software was open source, someone would have done this for you and Amazon Kindle users would be happier. Amazon might even make more sales.

How my Kindle paid for itself

My blog post about Kindle covers brought in enough revenue in December to pay for my Kindle. It now brings in enough every month to cover my Kindle reading habit.

KindleGranted, I could use that money for something else, but I like to think of it as my Kindle paying for itself. I mean, I wouldn’t have written a review of covers if I didn’t own a Kindle.

Amazon pays a healthy 10% affiliates fee for any Kindle product sales that you send them. Those affiliate fees have encouraged a huge number of Kindle blogs. All people hoping to get rich from Kindle sales.

They fall into a number of categories.

  1. Books. There are blogs that just talk about books available for the Kindle. Since Amazon makes it pretty easy to find Kindle books, I don’t understand the point of these blogs at all. If I want advice on what books to read on my Kindle, I’m much more likely to read a blog about the genre I like to read, not about the reader I like to read on. These blogs can be useful when they point out free books, but you can find those easily on
    Amazon’s site
    too. Or just check the bestseller
    list
    – the good free books hit the bestseller list fast. (Interestingly enough, Amazon’s own
    Kindle blog
    falls into this category of mostly about available books.)
  2. Merchandise. People have created entire blogs about Kindle accessories. I can see a blog about home accessories for people that like to decorate, but a blog about Kindle accessories? How many can you add to the little thing? A cover, a light, a screen protector, and then what? These blogs must live off searches. Much like my cover review blog post does.
  3. Kindle news. These blogs try to update you on Kindle news but there isn’t much. Some also offer tips and tricks for your Kindle and some of these are rather useful. I enjoy being able to check the time on my Kindle. (Now if they would just release the source code so I could make the time display permanently at the top of the screen …)
  4. E-reader news. Some blogs cover all the e-readers and the news about the industry including DRM issues, debates between publishers and distributors, etc. I think these are the only blogs that are going to live long term. Ones like the Kindle Review. If you want to try getting rich off Amazon Kindle affiliate sales, this is the long term category to be in. (I don’t think your chances of getting rich off Amazon Kindle affiliate sales are really good though.)

But even if most of those blogs don’t work out … Amazon’s affiliate program has given them enormous amounts of cheap advertising.

So the real question is how can you create an affiliates program around your product? Can we add an affiliates type program to Friends of GNOME? To GNOME? To Kids on Computers?

Amazon, let me give you more money!

Dear Amazon,

I would like to buy more books from you. In order to be able to give you more money for more books I need:

  1. A Kindle reader for my G1 Android phone. If I could read my Kindle books on my phone, I would buy many more books from you.
  2. Kill Kindle DRM or at least make it possible for other ebook readers to display Kindle books. (This is really to solve problem #1, reading books on my G1. But this is the best solution to that problem. It would also enable me to read books on my Linux desktop, netbook, etc.)

I have no desire to break the law, I simply want to read more of the books you sell in electronic format. I'm willing to pay you for that privilege as long as you make it easy for me to read those electronic books on the device of my choice. This could be done without any extra work on your part if you would enable others to work with you.

Please help me to spend more money at Amazon.

Sincerely,

Stormy Peters

P.S. This will be followed up with "Dear Publisher" letters to ask them not to give Amazon exclusive deals to their electronic books as it means that a large number of people that would like to read their books will not be able too. Something that Amazon could prevent.

P.S. II. I like the Kindle. I own one. I recommend it to my friends. But I would still read more Kindle books if I could read them on other devices.

P.S. III. Many of my friends are free software supporters and anti-DRM believers. They are usually also the people most willing to invest in new technology. They would be more likely to buy a Kindle if you fixed this issue.

P.S. IV. While we are at it, I would also like to be able to easily download and play Audible books on my Linux system and my G1. Again, you could enable people to do this for you if you would make the format available to others who produce hardware and music players.

Today's world is one of cooperation. Others could help you succeed in your business if you help them succeed in their business and their lives. Like your Amazon Affiliates program. Now please apply that to Kindle and Audible.

Thanks, I look forward to working with you and buying more of your products as soon as they work on all my devices.

7 Reasons Why Digital Books are the Way to Go & 4 Ways They Still Need to Improve

Digital books are getting a lot of hype right now with the announcement of Barnes and Noble’s Nook. I really hope digital books take off. And for that to happen we are going to have to have lots of digital books, multiple readers and different business models. Here are just some of the top reasons I think digital books are the way to go.

  1. Convenience. You can read the book when you want it. Recently I decided I wanted to read Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child. Since I was leaving the next day on a business trip, I first checked to see if it was available on my Kindle. If it had been, I would have bought it immediately. It wasn’t, but Amazon would ship a paper copy to me for $10.98 + $3.99 for next day shipping. I checked all the libraries of my home town and the three closest cities. None of the libraries had it. I called Borders, no go in any stores within 30 miles of me. I called Barnes and Noble. They had a copy in a store 13.5 miles away for $14.99. I didn’t get it. Yet I would have bought it immediately in digital format.
  2. Anywhere, any time. You can carry lots of books with you at once. I always read at least two books at once, a fiction and at least one non-fiction one. When I leave the house, I don’t have to decide which one to carry now. On long trips, especially vacations, I no longer pack half a suitcase of books. (That’s good since airlines now charge for checked baggage!)
  3. Privacy. Nobody can see what you are reading. Usually I’m happy to share what I’m reading but my business books get strange looks at the kids’ events. The vampire books get strange looks from lots of people. The science fiction ones get “oh, you read that?” I don’t care what anyone thinks about what I read but sometimes it’s easier to just not deal with it. That said, having a Kindle, I’ve passed my book over to tons of people so they could check out the Kindle. I’ve often wondered what they’ve thought about my reading choice, but without the cover, people don’t seem to notice what you are reading. Even when they’re reading a page of it.
  4. You read more. At least that’s what Amazon and the New York Times say. They say you read more because you can carry your book with you all the time and get what you want quickly.
    Amazon for example, says that people with Kindles now buy 3.1 times as
    many books as they did before owning the device. […] So a reader who had previously bought eight books
    from Amazon would now purchase, on average, 24.8 books

    I think they are confusing buying with reading. Kindle readers are definitely buying more books but I’m not sure they are reading more. I’ve always carried my book with me. I think I read the same amount now but I definitely buy more books from Amazon as that’s the only way to get recent books onto my Kindle.

  5. Notes. I love being able to highlight sections of books or magazines for personal reference or to blog about later. It beats typing in quotes. I really wish I’d had an electronic reader with textbooks in college. It would have saved my back and made taking notes easier.
  6. Physically easier. I know a lot of people that complain they miss the feel of a paper book. I don’t. I don’t miss holding open a paper back with one hand, or holding a hardback book in two hands. (There was a book I really, really wanted to read and I was so excited that on maternity leave I was going to be able to read it. I went and checked out this 600 page hardback book from the library and discovered that holding a baby and reading a hardback book is really difficult. Three years later I still haven’t read that book …) That said, I still mostly read paper books and I’m not going to give them up until I can check digital books out of my local library.
  7. Access. With digital books we can give books, entire libraries, to people around the world. While there are still barriers like cost and language, it is a huge step forward. Schools that could only afford a few text books per student would easily be able to not only have more copies (assuming they are also getting technology) but up to date copies. Hopefully universities, text book publishers and electronic reader manufacturers keep developing countries in mind as they come up with new business models.

We still have to fix a few things with digital books. Here’s just a start:

  1. Cross platform. I want to be able to read my book on any device I own. I should be able to read my Kindle books on my Android phone. Or my computer. It shouldn’t depend on the seller to support my device.
  2. No vendor lock in. I can put lots of different format books onto my Kindle, but the books I buy from Amazon will only work on my Kindle. (Or an iPhone if I had one.) From a consumer point of view, it would be much better for vendors to agree on a format, or a couple of formats, but make them open so all readers could display them.
  3. Sharing. People are used to sharing their books. Either we’ll have to teach them that these books are so much cheaper that everyone buys their own (not yet!) or we have to let them share. Right now Amazon lets you share with your household members and Barnes and Noble will let you share with friends for a total of 14 days per book. Or perhaps we could move to a model more like Netflix and the O’Reilly Safari bookshelf where you are getting access to movies and books but not ownership. A subscription model as opposed to a purchase model.
  4. Libraries. Libraries provide information, including books, to citizens. There needs to be a legal and acceptable way for them to give books in digital format to their readers. I could see a model where they pay more for their edition and ensure that only one person can access it at a time. 
  5. Skimming. It’s really hard to flip through a digital book the way you would a paper book. You can search for something by word but you can’t search by flipping through and recognizing the page.

What do you think (or not think) that digital books are the way to go?

Kindle 2 Covers

I have also reviewed covers for the latest generation Kindle 3.

3KindleCovers

I don’t normally write product reviews but I had such a hard time finding the right Kindle 2 cover, that I ended buying three covers before I found one I liked! And the one I ended up with is not the one I would have expected to like.

(As to why I was buying a Kindle 2 cover … my original Kindle’s screen broke – under warranty – and I used the opportunity to upgrade. However, the Kindle 2 is a different size than the Kindle 1 and does not come with a cover. So I also ended up looking for a cover.)

The Amazon Kindle Leather Cover is really popular but I didn’t try it because I really didn’t like the Amazon cover for my first Kindle.

I tried out three covers: the M-Edge GO! Jacket, the OCTO Faux Leather Slip Cover and the M-edge Latitude Jacket.

M-EdgeGO 1. M-Edge GO! Jacket (Genuine Leather–Smooth Mocha). This is the cover I had for my first Kindle and I loved it. So when I needed a new cover, I ordered this one. But it wasn’t the same as the Kindle 1 cover. The leather is not as soft, the binding is much stiffer and most important of all, it weighs 5 ounces more than the Kindle 1 cover! This cover feels like it weighs as much as the Kindle itself. And it does. The Kindle weighs 10.2 ounces and this cover weighs 9 ounces. That was a no go.

OCTO 2. OCTO Faux Leather Slip Cover. My next try was for something very lightweight but nice looking. This Octovo cover is sleek. It slips on over the Kindle, taking up no extra room, weighs practically nothing and it looks nice. If I always carried my Kindle in my laptop bag or a purse, I would go with this one. My one complaint is that you have to take it completely out of the cover to read it. (Then you have to stash the cover some where while you’re reading.) I almost kept it just for using on business trips when I stash my Kindle in my laptop bag. ~2.5 ounces*

M-edgeLatitude 3. M-edge Latitude Jacket. When I ordered the Octovo, I also ordered the M-edge Latitude Jacket. Just to see it. And I love it. (I had been looking at the Belkin neoprene but the reviews didn’t look good.) The Latitude is light weight. (Although not as light as the Octovo one.) It zips all the way around – protecting the Kindle completely. And it has a pocket on the front that fits my G1 phone and wallet. And a pocket on the back that looks perfect for a boarding pass. I’m not sure why I like it so much but I think it’s perfect for doing things like taking the Kindle along to a kid’s football practice or to a doctor’s office or to a lunch meeting you think someone might be late to.~5.5 ounces*

* Warning: all weights taken on an inaccurate kitchen scale that has been serving as a kid’s toy.

Which Kindle 2 cover or case do you like?

See also Gifts for the Kindle user that has it all.

Stacks of books are disappearing

IStock_000003968639XSmall Cushing Academy is replacing its library with TVs, a coffee shop and 18 digital readers. Why? Because students aren’t checking out books.

I can understand that if they library isn’t being used, it’s time to replace it and use the space wisely. However, there seem to be several assumptions here.

  1. Students aren’t reading paper books but they’ll read the digital books. Or perhaps they are thinking those few people that check out books will be happy with the digital readers. Maybe that’s why they only got 18 readers when they have over 400 students.
  2. Students aren’t reading so just give them the media (TVs and computers) that they are following.

Across the United States libraries are changing. They are carrying fewer books and more digital and multimedia options. From my perspective, it looks like we are reacting to a trend without understanding it. I’d like to know:

  1. Are people still reading books? (Maybe they are buying them instead of checking them out of the library.)
  2. If so, where are they getting those books and why do they get them from other places?
  3. If not, are they using the computer instead of reading?
  4. If so, what are they using the computer for?
  5. If they are using computers instead of reading books, and they aren’t reading on computers, do we want to fundamentally change what our libraries do?
  6. Is the purpose of a library to provide access to books or access to information?
  7. If it’s access to information, what does a library offer over the internet? Access to the internet for those that don’t have it at home? Help interpreting or sorting all the information out there?

I spent a lot of time in libraries growing up. As a matter of fact, I spent hours in the Cushing Academy library. (My parents taught there several summers.) Although I still love libraries and actually considered a job as director of our local library a few years ago, I no longer spend any significant time at the library.

Why don’t I spend time in libraries?

  1. They never have the books I am looking for. I think this is the Long Tail at work. I now hear about a lot of very specific niche business books. There’s not enough market for my local library to stock them. By contrast I can order them from Amazon and have them delivered tomorrow. (Or order it on my Kindle and read it now, just like I used to do at the library.)
  2. When the library has the book I am looking for it is usually a best seller and there is a really long wait for it. Then when I get it, I have to go pick it up immediately and I have to read it within a week – and I might be in the middle of another book. It isn’t convenient. I can order it from Amazon when I want to read it, have it delivered tomorrow, and turn around and sell it.
  3. It isn’t convenient. My local library is very tiny and doesn’t have any books I want to read. The closest decent size library is over seven miles away. Their online catalog is way worse than Amazon.com and they won’t put a hold on a book on the shelves. So if the book is in the library, I either have to drive up immediately or hope that nobody else checks it out in the meantime. If it’s not checked in, I have to wait for it and then immediately drive up when it’s available.

I think we spend too much time talking about how our libraries are going digital and how books are going away without stopping to ask what we want from our libraries.

I think instead the world has divided into people with different assumptions:

  1. those that think everyone will read books digitally in the future
  2. those that think reading is going away and libraries should evolve
  3. those that think reading is going away and libraries need to keep books and encourage people to read

I don’t think we know enough to know what our libraries should do.

Gifts for the Kindle user that has it all

Do you live with someone that buys themselves all the toys they want? And so when it comes time for giving gifts, you’re stuck?

Here’s some ideas for the Kindle user that has it all:

1. Kindle. Unless they have the latest Kindle, they’ll really appreciate the Kindle Paperwhite. It’s lighter, has a better screen and best of all, it’s backlit! If they already have the Paperwhite, the Kindle Fire is a really popular tablet – so it not only holds books but also let’s you browse the web and install apps. (And for kids, you can set time limits for each type of activity, so you can say 30 minutes of games, 30 minutes of browsing and unlimited reading each day.)

2. Covers. You can’t have too many covers or jackets – it’s like having multiple jackets to wear or multiple pairs of shoes. I reviewed Kindle covers when I got my last Kindle. For my Paperwhite, I got a BUILT Neoprene sleeve that I really like.

3. An Audible account. Kindles now have an amazing feature called Whispersync which allows you to switch back and forth from the audio version of the book and the visual version. So if you need to stop reading so you can get in the car to drive, you can continue listening to your book! Buy your Kindle fan an Audible account so they can get the audio versions of books.

4. A light. If they don’t have a Paperwhite or a Kindle Fire, and you’re looking for a smaller present, try a light. A light helps when reading in bed or on the airplane. This clip-on light is one of the most popular ones. This M-edge light that fits into the Kindle M-Edge cover.

5. Amazon gift card. Kindle users buy all their books from Amazon, so giving them an Amazon gift card is as good as giving them their favorite books!

6. Chargers. Like an extra power adaptor or a car charger. I keep one power adaptor in my bedroom and one in my suitcase.

Plus Kindle users are likely to like other geeky gifts

Any other ideas for the Kindle user that has it all?

Good luck!