Friday, November 28, 2008

Jeff Bezos interview

Smartmoney has an interview with Jeff Bezos, including some discussion of the future of the Kindle. One statement is that a color screen for the Kindle is unlikely.

Props to the Mobileread forums, which reported on this interview earlier.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Thanksgiving Post

Thanksgiving cornucopia
It's the first Thanksgiving for Kindlelicious, and I am going to do my best to look at things in a glass-is-half-full kind of way, even though it's a glass-half-empty kind of time. My own stock portfolio is now so small it cannot be seen with the naked eye, and I'm afraid to even look at my retirement account, but I'm thankful to have a j-o-b; I know there are many in worse shape.

My mom got out of the hospital after a long stay, I am most thankful for that.

I am thankful to live in a time when the dreams of science fiction writers are becoming reality.

I am thankful that the economic crisis has focused attention on the flaws that got us to this point; I believe that our economy and country will come out of this stronger.

I am thankful that I like to read, because if you like to read, you are never alone and your mind is always engaged.

I am thankful that I live in a very cool neighborhood with a theater, bookstore, and several coffee shops in walking distance!

I'll close by sharing a Kindle tip: if your home page table of contents has gotten big (mine is 6 pages now), you can turn to any page just by pressing a number on the keypad.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Techcrunch has new details on Kindle 2

"Coming out in Q1 2009," they say. More here.

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Book Review Blog Carnival Part 2!

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving season? One event is giving me at least two days of material, and introducing me to a bunch of great blogs as well! Yesterday, I wrote about the fiction reviews collected at residentreader. Now we're onto nonfiction.

REVIEWED AND AVAILABLE

The Life Uncommon, Nacie Carson. Kindle price $7.99. Interestingly, this is an e-book only.
The Wilde Women, Paula Wall. Kindle price $9.99.
The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge. Kindle price $9.99.
Investing for Dummies, Eric Tyson. Kindle price $9.99.

MIA

The Highly Sensitive Person, Elaine Aron.
The Idler's Glossary, Joshua Glenn.
Hairstyles of the Damned, Joe Meno.
The LBJ: Avian Life, Literary Arts. (Biannual periodical)
Birds: The Art of Ornithology, Jonathan Elphick.
Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, Taras Grescoe.
Yoga Planet, 50 Fun Activities for a Greener World, Tara Guber.
The Paris Review Interviews Vol. III
I Hate New Music: The Classic Rock Manifesto, Dave Thompson.
The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ray Kurzweil.

Well, this isn't the end yet, and Kindledude has to go get ready for his day job, but clearly a theme has emerged: there's a lot of nonfiction that hasn't been made available for the Amazon Kindle. Some I can understand: without a color screen, the Kindle isn't ready for an art book about birds (still, PRESS THE BUTTON. Let's incentivize progress, shall we?). On the other hand, the absence of a truly seminal book like The Age of Spiritual Machines is a bit of a shock.

At any rate, to find some great reviews that can help you make an informed choice about your reading list, go here.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Blog Carnival Came to Town!

A blog carnival is an event where a bunch of bloggers submit posts on a given subject, and those selected are then posted on the host site. In this case, the subject was book reviews, and the result was a cornucopia for the reader. I have read many, but not all the reviews yet. The ones I have read are high quality, insightful, informative, and, in one case, prescient. Many of the books reviewed seem fascinating. The collection is hosted at residentreader.blogspot.com. Check it out, I promise it will be worth your while.

As a Kindle blogger, I feel that I have a special role with respect to this wonderful parade of book reviews: that is, to look past the fancy costumes and determine which books are available for the Amazon Kindle, and which are missing in action (MIA). Since there are far too many reviews to handle in one post, today I focus on fiction. Remember, visit here to read the reviews.

REVIEWED AND AVAILABLE FOR KINDLE:

The Blessing Way, Tony Hillerman. Kindle price $3.50.
The Pearl Diver, Jeff Talarigo. Kindle price $7.96.
The Stand, Stephen King. Kindle price $2.95.
The Family Bones, Kimberly Raiser. Kindle price $5.56.
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer. Kindle price $6.04.
The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett. Kindle price $9.60.
Un Lun Dun, China Mieville. Kindle Price $9.00.
The Mysterious Island, Jules Verne. Kindle prices $.99 - $2.34.
Spin Control, Chris Moriarty. Kindle price $5.59.
Shade, John Olson. Kindle price $9.99.
Cycler, Lauren Mclaughlin. Kindle price $9.99.
Sleepless at Midnight, Jacquie D'Alessandro. Kindle price $5.59.

REVIEWED BUT MIA

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, Carolyn Mackler. The Ladies of Grace Adieu, Susannah Clarke.
Things Hoped For, Andrew Clements.
Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson.
The 3 Mistakes of my Life, Chetan Bhagat.
My Lady of Cleves, Margaret Campbell Barnes.

Why, you may ask, am I listing books that are MIA from the Kindle? Because, I WANT YOU TO PUSH THE BUTTON! Of course, I mean the one on Amazon.com that tells the publisher that you would like to read a book on the Kindle.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

I've recently joined...

The Mobileread forum. Not only are the folks there well-read and very informed about the Kindle (and other similar devices), they have a really cool feature--a frequently-updated index of free books that one can load onto one's Kindle and use to download from their extensive library of free books directly onto the device--without having to go to the computer first! Apparently this is similar to a feature of Feedbooks, but I have only so far tried the Mobileread one.

My personal experience was extremely good. The list seems to work better with the web browser in default mode (From the main menu, go to "Experimental." Open the web browser. From the menu, select "Default" if it is not already set), at least it did in my case.

The quality of the work available seems to be superior. Unfortunately, free books from the usual sites often have typos and other minor editorial issues to some degree--not enough to dissuade anyone from reading them, they are after all literary classics for a reason, but enough to be noticeable. Mobileread Forum members who upload free books (these are all public domain works) edit them, and even add original art sometimes. I downloaded a classic detective story and have so far found it to be flawless, which certainly adds to the reading experience.

Have a great weekend!!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book recommendations

The blog The Kindle Reader tracks new books available for the Kindle, including links to reviews. It's on my list to the right, and if you find yourself needing a book recommendation, go visit.

Here's a recommendation of mine: Kindledude just finished reading another Chris Moriarty book entitled Spin Control. Much of the science underlying the story has to do with emergence, the idea that interactions within a complex system can give rise to new properties, or even to new qualities not directly traceable to the original system. This theme is explored in respect to the personality, including the personality of an extremely complex and interesting Artificial Intelligence; ant colonies; and evolution. Of course, there are other themes as well, not least the role of non-conformists in a conformist society.

The plot involves an espionage tale involving post-human genetic constructs, Israeli and Palestinian intelligence, and a virus that may or may not be a bioweapon. A strong, related backstory involves a catastrophically failed attempt to terraform a planet. The result in a complex, intriguing, well-written and gripping novel, and one highly to be recommended.

One particular passage struck me--in addition to the fact that it is nicely written, probably because of fairly recent events that the United States has been involved in, many would say to its shame. Speaking of the interrogation style of one character:

"And then he would step in--never obtrusive or confrontational, just curious--to ask the questioon that would pull loose a new thread of memory, open up a new set of questions, recast past words in a new and revealing light, narrow down meanings and implications and insinuations until every word of Arkady's story possessed the crystalline clarity of a mathematical equation."

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Giveaway at Breeni Books

The excellent book review and author interview site Breeni Books is giving away a copy of The Book of Lilith by Robert G. Brown. Stop by, read their review, and enter the contest! And, if you don't happen to win, the book is available for the Kindle.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Them's Fightin' Words!

In an article on Wired.com titled "Seven (More) Gadgets Killed by the Cell Phone," the following disrespect for e-book readers appeared:

"... we still don't think the book is anywhere near dead. For starters, the screens on cellphones just don't cut it as e-readers (although the iPhone gets close with a decent size and high 163ppi resolution). Heck, even purpose-built e-readers aren't there yet."

"Purpose built e-readers," of course, include Kindledude's favorite e-reader. This statement got me to thinking; is the issue of relative superiority really so cut and dried as the Wired article would imply, or are there, perhaps, areas where the Kindle excels, and areas where paper books excel?

First, let's talk about getting the books. I like bookstores--the rows of shelves, the atmosphere, the coffee shop in the back, even the smell of books. I even live near a Borders. However, nothing beats the fact that I can be anywhere, decide that I want a book, and get it within a minute or two, or between one sip of coffee and another (mmmm, coffee). So score one for the Kindle.

Another related area is the physical size of one's library. Now, a nice home library is great, but we don't all have room to display hundreds, or even thousands of books. On the Kindle, enhanced with an SD card, one can easily store thousands of books in the space of a quality paperback. Another for the Kindle.

How about the experience of reading? A nicely printed book with a good typeface and high-quality paper is a beautiful thing. Aesthetically pleasing, portable, easy on the eyes, it can't be beat, yet. How close does the Kindle come? Well, the Kindle is pretty ugly and even clumsy until you get used to it. The screen on the Kindle does not quite have the contrast of paper. It is by far the best to read of any electronic format--I can read a Kindle for hours, just like a paper book, which I cannot do on any kind of computer screen (yes, Wired, even my beloved iPhone) without consequences. Score one for paper books, but as the e-ink technology improves, expect this gap to decrease.

When I read a real page-turner, a taut mystery for example, I want the pages to, well, turn. I read quickly, even more so with these types of books. This is where the slow refresh rate of the Kindle is a bit of a hindrance. This is a minor concern--one soon adapts to the Kindle rhythm--but score another here for books.

I believe we are two for two. What decides in favor of the Kindle for me is the ability to electronically search the text. A date in a historical work, the reappearance of a minor character after a long absence in a novel--it is a simple matter to return to these references and refresh one's recollection.

To me, the ways in which the Kindle does not match the paper book are relatively minor and should become vanishingly small as the technology improves, and the ways in which the Kindle are superior -- hundreds of books in your hand, immediate access, searchable text -- are much more important.

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Going Green on Kindle


In a time when (depending on which source you believe) 1/3 to 1/2 of paper is still made from dead trees, one argument for reading on the Kindle is environmental. Some people with whom I have spoken about the Kindle have remarked that a reason they would consider the Kindle is because using dead-tree paper for books, magazines, and newspapers doesn't make sense in a world of finite resources.

Perhaps more to the point: can the Kindle provide resources to help one live green? A recommended book on green living is "Go Green, Live Rich" by financial writer David Bach along with Hillary Rosner, a writer on science and environmental issues. Washington Post readers may have noticed this book recommended in a Sunday Source article. The idea of this book is to provide in simple language a collection of tips for green living that can also save money, "and potentially turn you into a green millionaire." As the author puts it, the message of the book is that "you can live in line with your green values AND you can put a million dollars in the bank."

I think there's more to this than just pie-in-the-green-sky. I wouldn't count of making a million dollars, but judging from the positive reviews and recommendations that this book has received, I think it's fair to say that it combats the belief that going green costs more than continuing to live as usual, addressing a complaint one often hears. Kindle price of $7.96.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Recently Reviewed

Reviewed Sunday in the Washington Post Book World: Loot: The Battle over Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World, Sharon Waxman. "Seeing great institutions humbled like this [i.e., being forced to return treasures] might give satisfaction to some, but what is served by such returns of art? If they're meant as a statement against looting, how does shifting a pot from New York to Rome advance that interest? These are the underlying questions of Waxman's absorbing and well-researched Loot." This book retails for $30 and has a (unusual) Kindle price of $17.82.

Unholy Business: A True Tale of of Faith, Greed, and Forgery in the Holy Land, Nina Burleigh. The Post calls this book a "bracing account of the case of the James Ossuary, an ancient limestone box that turned up in Jerusalem in 2002 with an inscription reading "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Kindle price $9.99. I remember the story and the book sounds fascinating--it's on my "save for later" list.

Well reviewed but MIA: Small Crimes, Dave Zeltserman. This crime noir novel is compared favorably to the works of James M. Cain, James Ellroy, and Patricia Highsmith--but it's not available for the Kindle. All one can do is click the "I'd like to read this book on the Kindle" link on Amazon's page and hope for the best!

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Friday, November 14, 2008

New for Kindle

Descarte's Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict between Faith and Reason, Russell Shorto. Described as a "historical detective story about the creation of the modern mind," this intellectual history has received strong reviews. The New York Times called it a "smart, elegantly written contribution to this genre" [of books trying to pinpoint the start of modernity]. The Los Angeles Times states that this book is "a kind of intellectual adventure story that focuses on the fate of the great man's skull." The San Francisco Chronicle states that "by detailing the odd, picaresque tale of Descartes' exhumed, revered, lost and vandalized mortal remains, Shorto furnishes us with a metaphor for the rippling effect that Enlightenment thought had on the development of our world." $26 hardcover list price, $9.99 at the Kindle store.

Moving from high seriousness to low humor, it's hard to resist a title like Too Fat to Fish (Anthony Bozza and Artie Lange), especially after KindleDude happened to hear an interview with Artie Lange on the radio a few days ago, which was self-revelatory, funny, and sad. The book is billed as "outrageous, raw, and painfully funny true stories from the life of the actor, comedian, and cast member of the Howard Stern show." EW.com has an interview with Artie Lange about the book and some of the stories behind it. Kindle price $9.99.

Doing research for this post, I happened to find a rather nice blog for readers called Linus's Blanket. I've added it to my blog list at the right.

Enjoy!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Books on blogs for the Kindle

My Kindle blog, as informative and entertaining as it is, has had two hits (other than myself), and one was my brother, who is home with the flu, and who I asked to visit my blog. So, how can I get more traffic? And, specifically for the purposes of this blog, are there any books available for the Kindle that can help? Because, seriously, I don't have time to go to the bookstore; I've got to get on this now, before I exhaust my energy with all this shouting into the void.

A couple of promising titles appear. One is How to Make Money with Your Blog: The Ultimate Reference Guide for Building, Optimizing, and Monetizing your Blog.

The title of this one was so long I had to download the free sample just to be able to read all of it. The author claims that he tried several titles, and "this name was chosen as the most obvious, concise, and appropriate for the content of this book." Be that as it may, what I really need, though, is simply how to get my blog to appear in searches so people can find it. This book has one chapter on that topic; how much better would a whole book be?

Which brings me to the irresistible Blog Traffic Jump Start by Pat B. Doyle, which promises that "if you follow all these steps, you will be able to greatly increase your blog's traffic and search engine ranking too." Of course, this is a couple of pages after the standard "I am making no promises" disclaimer to prevent lawsuits by the disappointed.

So, now begins the experiment. Starting with this latter book, which, despite my "huckster alert" siren going off in my head, I will download immediately, I'm going to apply the recommendations and techniques provided. Since my blog traffic is now approximately 1, any increase at all should be immediately detectable. I will then report on the results, the ultimate goal being to be able to tell you, dear reader, which Kindle books on blogging are worth your attention.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Your second Kindle book

If you're anything like me, your first Kindle book will be whatever book you're interested in at the time, which is available for the Kindle. You're too excited to read a how-to guide or even the user guide that comes built-in; you want to try out Whispernet and start reading, like a kid wants to tear open a present.

But the second book should be The Complete User's Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle by Stephen Windwalker. It's just full of tips from the mundane but useful (keyboard shortcuts) to the potentially sublime (where to find free books). Like any book of this type, there will be a mixture of things you already know or can figure out for yourself, and other items that will be new. But it's all interesting and driven by the author's obvious enthusiasm, which makes this one of the most fun "how-to" guides I've read. The author has also assembled some fascinating speculations about future directions Amazon could take with the Kindle and electronic books.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

A list of Kindle books for Veteran's Day:

Ordinary Heroes, Scott Turow (fiction)

The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw (nonfiction)

Retrieving Bones: Stories and Poems of the Korean War, W.D. Ehrhart (fiction, poetry, historical preface)

The Coldest Winter, David Halberstam (nonfiction)

Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War, Tim Pritchard (nonfiction)

I'd like to hear about any other suggestions in the comments

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Quotation notation

It's always good to know clever and appropriate quotations, if only to replace the somewhat ostentatious "sent from my iPhone" signature line from the mail app. They come in handy at parties and group lunches also. Quotations should be used sparingly; too much, and people will start avoiding you.

The Kindle makes it easy to compile collections of quotations. When you come across one that you like, simply highlight it. The Kindle saves your notes and highlights as a text file. Plug your Kindle into your computer with the mini-USB cable. Navigate to the "documents" folder and find the file called "My Clippings.txt." Because this file holds all your bookmarks, notes, and highlights, you may have to use the search function on your computer to find your gem. If you want to save a collection of quotations, just copy the relevant ones to a new blank document.


" ...fortune being changeful and mankind steadfast in their ways, so long as the two are in agreement men are successful, but unsuccessful when they fall out."

--Machiavelli, The Prince.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

The Kindle conversation

I'm fairly certain that it's happened to all Kindle owners who read in public: you're happily flipping through a white-knuckled Harlan Coben novel when someone says "excuse me, how do you like it," indicating your Kindle.

Here are the 5 questions I most often get asked, and my responses:

1. How do you like it?

--A lot!

2. Is it hard to get books for it?

--No! Or, if I think the questioner is sufficiently technology-oriented, I rhapsodize about the joys of the Whispernet service.

3. How expensive is it?

--$359.

4. How expensive are the books?

--Inexpensive compared to print editions. New hardcover books, which might retail for $25, are $9.99. Books available in mass-market paperback are considerably less--usually $5 or so, often even less. Also, free public-domain books are available.

5. Can you add notes?

--Yes (followed by a demonstration). I suspect people asking this one have already done some research and just want to see how it works.

And here's a secret--I actually like being asked about my Kindle! People who start these conversations need to settle in for a long discussion!

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

The audacity of science fiction

Like Barack Obama, science fiction can enable us to audaciously re-envision the future, and there is excellent science fiction available for the Kindle. I just finished reading Chris Moriarty's Spin State, a wonderful novel that makes use of quantum physics. Bose-Einstein condensates, entangled matter, and quantum gravity are the driving forces in the new world the writer envisions--and she is good enough to provide an extensive reading list in those areas at the end of the novel. And it is the kind of novel that makes one want to explore further. But it's not just about the science. Vivid characters, taut suspense, and a mining operation complete with references to the IWW (look it up) drive the plot of this multiple award-nominated novel. If you're any sort of sci-fi fan, get this one. Another novel by the same author, Spin Control, won the 2007 Phillip K. Dick award, and it is also available for the Kindle.

Free is good, and the excellent writer John Scalzi (Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades) has been good enough to provide a free Kindle edition of his early novel, Agent to the Stars. Part first-contact yarn, part send-up of Hollywood, and all a blast, you won't go wrong with this one. It is available at Manybooks.net (link to the right).

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A thought for Nov. 5

"I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character..."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4


Get out and VOTE! Long lines are expected-- in my case, two hours. I was fortunate to have my Kindle with me to help pass the time. This was the voting line at about 9:00 AM at a polling place in Montgomery County, Maryland.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

The Choice: How can Kindle Help?

Tomorrow morning, many of you will wake up and make one of the most important choices in your lives: Should I start the day with a latte or an americano? Then you will go to your polling place and vote for the next President of the United States.

According to CNN, nationally about 5% of voters are undecided (this is from their "Election Tracker" page). According to the Slate magazine widget on my iPhone, it's about 3.8%. That's still a fairly high number of undecided voters, and more than the difference between the candidates in a number of close races (Yeah, that's you Indiana. Don't try to hide, North Carolina. Missouri. Georgia. You know who you are).

So how can Kindle help? Well, it so happens that during this vital period in our Nation's history, the Kindle Store is giving away free copies of the New York Times, with extended election coverage, and the Washington Post, which always has extensive political coverage. This lasts until November 6, in the case of the Times, and November 5 for the Post.

Of course, there's also plenty of topical paid content available. We're going to take a big tent approach here--on the left, Michael Moore offers "Mike's Election Guide 2008." Republicans may want to take a stiff drink before reading even the free sample. On the conservative side, the blog "Conservatives with Attitude" ($.99 per month, 14-day free trial) will drive the Dems to drink.

(Disclosure: I currently subscribe to the Washington Post on the Kindle).

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Why?

I bought my Amazon Kindle in November, 2007. I love to read and I love gadgets, so how could I resist? I've been readings books, newspapers, and the occasional magazine on the Kindle ever since, and I'm meeting more and more people who do the same.

I've thought about doing a blog on the Kindle for a long time. What I want to discuss is: what's good to read and available for the Kindle format? I think it will be fun for me to blog about books I like on my favorite format, and, I hope, also fun and informative for anyone who stumbles across my blog and has a Kindle or is considering getting one.

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