6 Kindle related threads

Here are 6 kindle related threads for a lazy sunday.  

Two interesting books out of the 50+ free kindle indie titles

Amazon yesterday introduced over 50 free indie titles. You can find them and other free books at the 50 Free Kindle Books list.

Here are two that seem pretty interesting and are also very well reviewed -

  1. Shatter (The Children of Man) by Elizabeth C. Mock. Rated 5 stars on 7 reviews.

    Growing up during the chaos of the Nabosian War, Faela Durante and her entire generation never knew what it meant to live in a time of peace. Though the war ended years ago, the devastation has not.

    Less than a year ago, Faela, the first Tereskan mind healer in generations, disappeared from her family home in Finalaran scared and pregnant. Hunted and living as an outcast, Faela searches for a legend that might be her only hope of gaining atonement and returning to her son.

  2. 29 Jobs and a Million Lies by Jennifer Trooper. Rated 5 stars on 8 reviews.

    Dark, twisted, and outrageous, 29 Jobs and a Million Lies is not the story of your all-American girl seeking glory and success, but a glimpse at counterculture’s underbelly and attempts to succeed within that world.

    From demented B-movie, roach-infested film production offices chock full of freakish characters to the Cannes Film Festival; from starting a punk rock record label to its hard but inevitable crash; from a grimy, Greenwich Village restaurant kitchen to failed attempts at joining the Navy, …

It’s interesting how there are so many free books now that we have to pick and choose. A couple of years ago the Kindle store used to get maybe 2 or 3 free books a month.

Amazon Encore adds 4 titles for Fall 2010, 8 for Spring 2011

You can find the complete list at the Amazon Encore page. It caught me by surprise to see 39 books on that page.

The additions for Fall 2010 are Waiting for the Taliban by Anna Badkhen, Easily Amused and Celia and the Fairies by Karen McQuestion and An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton.

The additions for Spring 2011 include

“Catcher, Caught” by Sarah Collins Honenberger; “Stalina” by Emily Rubin; “The Summer Son” by Craig Lancaster; “Regarding Ducks and Universes” by Neve Maslakovic;

“Faking It” and “Ordinary World” by Elisa Lorello; and “Nickel Plated” by Aric Davis, as well as the physical edition debut of J.A. Konrath’s “Shaken” (available first on Kindle in October 2010).

 the imprint’s first diet book, “Get Real and Stop Dieting!” by Brett Blumenthal

It’s good to see Elisa Lorello and Karen McQuestion get multiple releases. 

For all the ‘Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover’ rhetoric these two authors getting multiple releases happened to have the most beautiful book covers for their indie books. Karen McQuestion’s original book covers are much better than the Encore ones and Elisa Lorello has a beautiful strawberry cover for one of her books.

Of the thousands of Kindle covers my eyes have traversed these two authors’ book covers just happen to be amongst my top ten – it’s either a remarkable coincidence or some secret key to human psychology that both now have multi-book deals with Amazon.

This would be much cheaper with ebooks – Wrong Version of Jonathan Franzen’s book printed out

Guardian UK reports on how the wrong file was used to print out Jonathan Franzen’s Book of the Century and now thousands of copies will be pulped and customers will be sent new copies.

Franzen told the audience that all copies would be exchanged or refunded, including postage and packaging.

HarperCollins, which runs the 4th Estate imprint under which the book was released in the UK earlier this week, alleged that it was actually at the typesetting stage that the mistake happened.

Cost to send out new copies of an ebook, assuming 1 MB size – Around 10 to 20 cents per book.

Cost to send out new copies of a paper book, including shipping – Around $5 or more, though Publishers will claim it’s minus $1.

An amusingly incompetent attempt to attack the Kindle

At Slate there’s an article titled Kindlerotica that tries to paint the Kindle as some sort of haven for porn. It’s hard to read the article without laughing.

Consider this snippet -

Verbal (as opposed to visual) porn for men is probably a niche taste. Yet the growing ubiquity of e-readers could unleash latent demand for nonvisual pornography.

Unleash latent demand amongst men for nonvisual pornography?

Yup, it’s so latent it doesn’t really exist. We have the Internet and smartphones and video sites and Tablets and he thinks men are going to choose ‘verbal porn’ on the Kindle. What a joke.

Then he gets to what the article really is about -

The Kindle, however, pushes Amazon over the line from mere enabler of erotica to promoter and producer.

… will the presence of e-books like Compromising Positions at the top of Amazon’s charts sully the e-reader’s reputation?

How do you even conjure up this scenario?

Because an erotica novel was free and #1 on the charts you claim Amazon is a ‘promoter and producer’ of erotica and that erotica will sully the Kindle’s reputation.

There are lots and lots of smart comments including one that points out that the title the author was using as proof of ‘an unleashing of demand for nonvisual pornography for men’ is actually aimed at and read by women. C. Murray writes -

 I happen to know dozens of women who do write these. They are not in fact aimed at men, their largest market is women, their largest fanbase are women.

It’s infinitely amusing to me that the author of the article is worried about men being overwhelmed by nonvisual pornography via their Kindles.

If men began reading more erotic romance written by and for women it would definitely lead to terrible consequences – They’d begin to understand women and they would realize that real women are far more exciting and enticing than the soulless, photoshopped centerfolds and models and porn stars the mass media is constantly telling us we should aspire to be/bed.

Steve O’Hear at TechCrunch gets the Kindle

The Kindle 3 has certain magical qualities that are seldom mentioned. An excellent article at TechCrunch goes into one of them -

I can’t get enough of the Kindle.Why?

It’s the only gadget that encourages me – no, forces me – to go off the grid and get away from, as Mike Butcher puts it, the “background hum” of being always-connected. If fact, it’s for exactly the reasons that Carr states, that the dedicated e-reader can be seen as the anti-iPad. And that might well be its long-term appeal.

More and more people are beginning to understand the value of things like a lack of distractions, a focus on one thing, and a committment to reading.

How to get Boys to read

A rather interesting article in the Wall Street Journal with this section that caught my eye -

People who think that a book—even R.L. Stine’s grossest masterpiece—can compete with the powerful stimulation of an electronic screen are kidding themselves.

But on the level playing field of a quiet den or bedroom, a good book like “Treasure Island” will hold a boy’s attention quite as well as “Zombie Butts from Uranus.” Who knows—a boy deprived of electronic stimulation might even become desperate enough to read Jane Austen.

There’s another way to create a level playing field – a dedicated electronic reading device.

Jonah Lehrer writes something that flies above my head

Jonah Lehrer is super smart and perhaps this article, Kant on a Kindle, proves it conclusively as it’s incomprehensible to me.

Firstly, he’s obviously able to see eInk in a way that my eye can’t -

Before long, we will do most of our reading on screens—lovely, luminous screens.

 the words shimmer on the glass; every letter is precisely defined, with fully adjustable fonts

Think of it as a beautifully printed book that’s always available in perfect light. For contrast and clarity, it’s hard for Gutenberg to compete

Are we talking about eInk? The iPad’s LCD screen? Neither is as good as print on paper yet. At least not for reading.

Second, he equates ‘difficult to read visually’ with books that require you to think -

But the ventral route is not the only way to read. The brain’s second reading pathway, the dorsal stream, is turned on when we have to pay conscious attention to a sentence. Perhaps we’ve encountered an obscure word or a patch of smudged ink.

But it seems inevitable that the same trends that have transformed our televisions will also affect our reading gadgets.

I worry that, before long, we’ll become so used to the mindless clarity of e-ink that the technology will feed back onto the content, making us less willing to endure challenging texts.

Mindless clarity of eInk???

Mr. Lehrer has out-thought himself and with his brainpower that’s not very hard to do.

Here are the two things he’s mixing up -

  1. The ease of seeing and reading letters from a screen or from a page.  
  2. The ease of reading and understanding and comprehending a book.

Firstly, eInk aims to replicate print on paper and is going closer and closer to it and not further away. So there’s nothing to worry there. 

Secondly, reading difficulty will always depend on the words and how they’re brought together and the concepts and ideas and the flow of a book. It has very little to do with how convenient or inconvenient reading the letters from the pages is.

After all the brilliant articles he’s written it’s understandable that this one is a bit of a clunker. His approach is not that different from someone who thinks a book is the smell of wax and ink and the feel of paper.

How difficult a book is to read and comprehend and how much it expands us and our brains has very little to do with how many smudges of ink there are on its pages and how inscrutable the letters on its pages are.

This comment from John Gower is spot-on -

For now, this isn’t a great concern. Half of the books I’ve been reading on Kindle have misspellings, grammatical errors, or missing text. Once perfection is reached, however, the author may have a point.

Yet, I still think that imperfect printing is hardly a threat, since the challenge of the material itself is considerably more important than the typeface in which it’s written. Reading Homer or Melleville will remain challenging to that dorsal thought process, while reading Dr. Seuss to the kids won’t tax even the ventral part of our minds.

The way the article talks about the ‘challenge’ and ‘benefits’ of reading a book in terms of the visual clarity of letters on its pages is so strange. My mind can’t process the concept or, for that matter, figure out how he could have arrived at his conclusion.

6 Responses

  1. Op-Ed Contributor Michael Cunningham – Found in Translation – NYTimes.com::Sort of a blow back on how easy it is/is-not to translate:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/opinion/03cunningham.html?th=&emc=th&pagewanted=all

    Excerpt:
    AS the author of “Las Horas,” “Die Stunden” and “De Uren” — ostensibly the Spanish, German and Dutch translations of my book “The Hours,” but actually unique works in their own right — I’ve come to understand that all literature is a product of translation. That is, translation is not merely a job assigned to a translator expert in a foreign language, but a long, complex and even profound series of transformations that involve the writer and reader as well. “Translation” as a human act is, like so many human acts, a far more complicated proposition than it may initially seem to be.
    Many novelists, if honest, will admit that the finished book is a rather rough translation of the book they’d intended to write–one of the heartbreaks of writing fiction. You have, for months or years, been walking around with the idea of a novel in your mind, and in your mind it’s transcendent, it’s brilliantly comic and howlingly tragic, it contains everything you know, and everything you can imagine, about human life on the planet earth. It is vast and mysterious and awe-inspiring. It is a cathedral made of fire.

    But even if the book in question turns out fairly well, it’s never the book that you’d hoped to write.

  2. If the article were dead on, which I don’t think it is, we could ask Amazon to provide an imperfect font for those who want the experience of smudged type, etc.

  3. Hmmm, “Anti-Pad”.

    Could the Kindle be the new counter-culture to the now establishment Apple? Could Bezos be the new Jobs and Jobs the new Gates?

    This could be a really cool angle for Amazon to push, as Apple really has become somewhat of a juggernaut.

    jug·ger·naut:

    2: a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path

    The word is derived from the Sanskrit जगन्नाथ Jagannātha[1] (meaning “Lord of the Universe”) which is one of the many names of Krishna from the ancient Vedic scriptures of India. One of the most famous of Indian temples is the Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa, which has the Ratha Yatra (“chariot procession”), an annual procession of chariots carrying the murtis (statues) of Jagannâth (Krishna), Subhadra and Balabhadra (Krishna’s elder brother). A popular 14th-century work The Travels of Sir John Mandeville apocryphally[2] describes Hindus, as a religious sacrifice, casting themselves under the wheels of these huge chariots and being crushed to death. Based on this claim, British colonials[3] promulgated the claim that Hindu devotees of Krishna were “lunatic fanatics who threw themselves under the wheels of these chariots in order to attain salvation”. Others have suggested that the deaths, if any, were accidental caused by the crowd and commotion.

    Are the Apple faithful; casting themselves under the wheels of a slick, polished juggernaut, or does it really matter?

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