5 Kindle limit, Kindle iPhone changes, 6 free kindle books

First, let’s look at the 6 free kindle books which include a few based on Pride and Prejudice -

  1. Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda George. Rated 4 stars on 90 reviews.

    Joining a growing field of Austeniana—and, particularly, Darcyiana—Grange retells Austen’s Pride & Prejudice from Fitzwilliam Darcy’s point of view.

    Her device for doing so is an imagined diary of a clever sort: Grange reproduces, word for word and comma for comma, conversations from the original novel, but shifts the perspective to reported speech in Darcy’s first-person, with his commentary on the encounters.

    Between the reconstituted passages, the reader is treated to Darcy’s ongoing reflections on Hertfordshire society, his family obligations, his sister and, most crucially, Elizabeth Bennet and her family.

  2. Cure for the Chronic Life by Shane Stanford and Deanna T Favre.

    Favre (Don’t Bet Against Me), an NFL wife and cancer survivor, and hemophiliac pastor Stanford (A Positive Life) share their experiences addressing “chronic” conditions, both physical and emotional, that impede faithful living.

    Asserting that “God wants us to run, not limp, to jump, not hobble into His grace,” the authors invite readers to believe that inhibited lives may be transformed through committed spiritual practice, such as their treatment plan for healing. Intending the book to be read over a 40-day period, the authors offer guidance, Bible study, and encouragement.

  3. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey.

    Kadrey (Butcher Bird) provides biting humor, an over-the-top antihero and a rich stew of metaphoric language in this testosterone- and adrenaline-charged noir thriller. James Stark spent 11 years killing monsters in Lucifer’s arena for the entertainment of fallen angels, but now he’s back …

    …in seedy, magic-riddled L.A., trying to avenge his girlfriend’s murder and hunt down Mason Faim, the black magician responsible for getting him sent downtown. He meets with some initial success, beheading second-rate magician Kasabian (whose head becomes Stark’s smart-mouthed sidekick), but he can’t find Faim. 

  4. Mr and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan.

    Sharon Lathan presents Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy, A fascinating portrait of a timeless, consuming love – and the sweetest, most romantic Jane Austen sequel.

    It’s Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding day, and the journey is just beginning as Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice characters embark on the greatest adventure of all: marriage and a life together filled with surprising passion, tender self-discovery, and the simple joys of every day.

    As their love story unfolds in this most romantic of Jane Austen sequels, Darcy and Elizabeth reveal to each other how their relationship blossomed.

  5. Fortune is a Woman by Francine Saint Marie. Rated 5 stars on 6 reviews.

    Dr. Helaine Kristenson is not just talented and beautiful. She’s the leading authority in the field of psychosexual relations and the bestselling author of the self-help bible ‘Keeping Mr. Right’. Professionally, the esteemed doctor deals with secrets of the heart everyday. Privately, she even has a few of her own to keep her busy…

    The Secret Keeping, the first novel in this series, was a LAMBDA Notable Book, Goldie Award finalist, semi-finalist for the Independent Publishers Award, and an IPPY Award Bronze medalist.

  6. To Conquer a Highlander by Mary Wine. Rated 4 stars on 10 reviews.

    Starred Review. Wine (In the Warrior’s Bed) fills this addictive tale of betrayal, lust, power, and love with detail-rich descriptions and frequent bedroom scenes hot enough to warm even the coldest Scottish nights.

    In 15th-century Scotland, women are expected to be quiet, meek, and above all obedient, but hot-blooded, hotheaded Shannon McBoyd is not a typical simpering lady. She meets her match in the dark, handsome highlander Torin McLeren, who kidnaps her to stop her father’s raids into McLeren land.

How disappointing – Only 6 free books. That’s terrible.

5 Kindle Limit

So Amazon has this new message up on Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi pages -

Order Limit

Due to Strong customer demand, current quantity limit is 5 Kindle devices per order.

For bulk order quantities, please email us at (email address).

It seems a good way to avoid the people who buy up lots of Kindles and then sell them on eBay.

It makes you wonder why other companies don’t do this. You see it sometimes when there is a sale but it should be used more often with hit products.

Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for iPad get new features

SRB at the official Kindle forum talks about the new additions to Kindle for iPhone/iPad -

  1. Two Page Mode when iPad is in landscape mode.
  2. Improved app stability. 
  3. Book Extras from Shelfari. This is a big deal.

Here’s SRB describing the Book Extras feature powered by Shelfari -

 Oh holy cow, I just checked out the Pillars of the Earth “ebook” extras on the iPad using the new Kindle app upgrade – this is stunning. It adds a set of panels for:

Series titles
Characters and People
Setting & Places
Synopsis
Summary
Quotes
Editions

There is also a “spoilers” off button to hide important plot details. I guess this is all based on the book itself and some form of input from the Shelfari community. I might actually start to use Shelfari now.

He also points out that only 2 out of the 10 books he checked had the ‘Extras’ feature. It’s either being phased in gradually or perhaps only 25% or so of books have information entered for them by Shelfari users.

An Example of How the Book Extras feature adds value

It’s actually an impressive feature. Checked out Book Extras for a Robin Hobb book and found -

  1. A list of books in the series. Pretty helpful if you want to continue the series.
  2. List of 38 important characters. It would be nice if there were write-ups but at the moment there are just names.
  3. A list of 10 books that are similar. Very helpful.  

There’s other useful information too like a list of important places. There were no Book Extras for some books and only limited information for others – However, when ‘extra’ information is present for a book it adds solid value.

Will Kindle 3 end the eReader wars?

The one question the Kindle 3 has made me ask myself more than any other (well, besides Graphite or White?) is – Does Kindle 3 end the eReader wars?

The easy way to answer that question is to hide behind ‘Kindle 3 will sell millions’. However, lots of eReader companies are going to sell millions of eReaders before and after the eReader Wars are decided.

The real question is – Which eReader is going to win the eReader wars and end up with an overwhelming (90% market share) or dominant position (70% market share)?   

Kindle 3 is the first eReader (including the $139 Kindle WiFi under the ‘Kindle 3′ umbrella) that threatens to provide a firm answer.

How would we know Kindle 3 has ended the eReader Wars - What’s the criteria?

Let’s say there are two possible criteria for announcing an end to the eReader wars -

  1. A Microsoft Office like dominance with 90% or more of the market. A situation where there isn’t really a viable competitor. 
  2. A Google Search type dominance with 70% or so of the market. A situation where the 2nd and 3rd best companies in the market are not really a threat.

Forget the companies and the market – The 70% to 90% market share and the cemented #1 position are the key criteria.

If Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi help Amazon get to 70% market share AND cement the Kindle as the #1 eReader then we can safely say the Kindle 3 has ended the eReader wars.

Please note that we are talking about dedicated eReaders. So number of iPhones sold or number of cigarette lighters with LED displays sold doesn’t factor in.

Kindle 3 and the Invisible Competitors – Nook 2, Sony 606, iPad 2

There are bound to be strong reactions to a ‘Kindle 3 as decider’ post.

People who read on the Nook or Sony and people who read on the iPad (no jokes please, we mean the 5% who actually do read) will be aghast. As will a lot of people with an axe to grind (Press) or whose future depends on the death of the Kindle (Publishers, Paper manufacturers).

Well, they have a valid argument – We haven’t seen what Kindle 3 competitors will bring to the table.

We have the iPad 2 which will try another round of ‘LCD (this time with Retina Display) is better than eInk’.  It’ll also keep drumming on ‘the number of people who could possibly read on their device’ as opposed to ‘the number of people who actually read a lot on their device’.

The Nook 2 already has FCC clearance and this time it is Amazon that has made the mistake of announcing its features in advance – though you have to suspect (with the microphone etc.) that Amazon might have kept a few things in reserve. Nook 2 may have the eInk Pearl screen, it might have some new feature that blows us away, and it’s likely to match Kindle 3 in price (even if it bleeds B&N dry).

Sony offers a big threat – An alliance with Google Editions would add the missing range of books and supply some much-needed infrastructure. Sony’s new devices might figure out a way to do touch without sacrificing visibility. Sony has been delivering good devices – It’s the store and eco-system they mess up and perhaps they finally realize it and figure out a solution.

Perhaps the biggest threat is the giant search company and who knows what they might bring to the table.

All these companies face a few big challenges.

Kindle 3 has set a very high bar

There’s little doubt that Amazon had the best store. It also had amazing infrastructure – Free 3G wireless is pretty impressive no matter how you put it.

It was the Kindle that was the weak link. Firstly, the improvements were all incremental. Secondly, the Kindle 2 was 1.5 years old and had old eInk screen technology. Thirdly, Amazon’s avoidance of ePub and lack of openness and lack of library books and lack of WiFi were real disadvantages.

Kindle 3 changes most of that – We’ve gone from a state where the Kindle Store and WhisperNet were letting Kindle edge other eReaders to a Kindle 3 that can stand on its own. In fact, it beats the other eReaders handily (unless ePub or library books are a must-have for you).

As we go through this list of Kindle 3 improvements keep in mind that Nook and Sony Reader will probably match the Kindle 3 on some (perhaps even all) of these improvements -

  1. The eInk Pearl screen is better than any other eReader screen available. The graphite casing adds to the contrast and Amazon has added tweaks to further improve the contrast.  
  2. Kindle 3 is lighter, thinner, and more compact.  
  3. Kindle 3 has double memory and double battery life with wireless off.  
  4. The PDF support has been extended to include search and taking notes and making highlights. You can adjust the contrast and can do incremental panning when zoomed in.
  5. There’s a microphone that’s going to be used for at least 1 killer feature (nothing yet).
  6. There’s a Kindle App Store in the wings and it will almost certainly make a difference.
  7. New Accessible menus combine with the super size fonts to make it very usable by blind and low vision readers.
  8. There’s finally WiFi.
  9. Support for CJK fonts and Cyrillic fonts lets Amazon sell in China, Japan, Russia, and lots of East European countries.

Those are just the big improvements – We also have faster page turns, better button placement, sharper fonts, three font types, auto-disappearing book title bar, a webkit browser, and an article mode in the browser.

Keep in mind that this has arrived 4-6 weeks after a massive Kindle 2.5 upgrade that added PDF pan and zoom, Collections, sharper fonts, super sized fonts, and the ability to share passages on Facebook and Twitter.

Kindle 3 is an eReader which, on its own - without factoring in Kindle Store and Kindle Whispernet, is clearly better than the competition. It’s almost unfair that it gets the backing of the best eBook store and the best eBook/eReader eco-system and infrastructure.

Nook 2, Sony 606, iPad 2 have to beat Kindle 3 by a margin

Here we’re assuming the iPad 2 is going to pretend to be a dedicated reading device which just happens to have a screen optimized for playing games. So we consider it a competitor.

When the Nook 2 and Sony 606 arrive later this month, and when the iPad 2 arrives later this year, it’s not enough for them to match or beat the Kindle 3. They have to beat the Kindle 3 by a wide enough margin that Kindle Store and Kindle WhisperNet and free 3G can’t make up or exceed the difference.

This is perhaps the biggest thing people are going to misunderstand when they get upset about the ‘Will Kindle 3 end the eReader wars?’ question. Kindle 3 just needs to make sure it’s not worse than the competition. The Kindle service/ecosystem (including Kindle Apps on other devices) and Kindle Store will take care of things if there’s a tie between devices or even if another eReader is slightly better.

Which means Nook 2 doesn’t just have to match the 10 to 15 solid improvements the Kindle 3 has made - Nook 2 has to find an additional 5 to 6 improvements and implement them successfully.

It’s the same with the iPad – especially since Kindle 3 has improved on almost every advantage Kindle 2 had over iPad. Kindle 3 is cheaper (well, the WiFi model is), lighter, has battery life of 1 month with wireless off, its more compact, and the eInk screen has amazing contrast. Kindle 3 also cuts down on Kindle disadvantages – there’s double the memory, page turns are faster, there are 3 font types now, PDF support is better, and there’s a WebKit browser. 

Quick Synopsis – Where we stand on our Kindle 3 argument

We’ve established a few things so far (feel free to disagree in the comments) -

  1. Kindle 3 is much better than Kindle 2 and also much better than Nook and Sony Reader.
  2. Kindle 3 has the support of the best ebook store (Kindle Store) and the best eBook/eReader infrastructure (Kindle WhisperNet).
  3. Nook 2 and Sony 606 would have to beat Kindle 3 handily to make up for their comparatively poor ebook stores and for their weaker infrastructure.

We’ve also set 70% or higher market share and a cemented #1 position as the criteria for Kindle 3 to end the eReader wars.

Now, let’s look at why it’ll be exceptionally hard to catch up with the Kindle 3.

Kindle 3 and Amazon’s Kaizen Strategy are hard to beat

Amazon is in the enviable position of having the current best eReader (Kindle 3), best store (Kindle Store), and best infrastructure (Kindle WhisperNet). However, it’s biggest advantages are its kaizen philosophy, its focus on reading, and its deep pockets.

Sony cares only about gadgets. Apple cares only about selling beautiful things to cool people. Apple sells iPads to us strange people despite us wanting to read books – not because they care about books or reading but because they care about iPad sales. Nook is hampered by B&N’s financial struggles.

Amazon is running faster than all of them in the race to develop the best reading solution - Apple could catch it but Apple doesn’t want to run in this race. Sony thinks it’s in the race but it only cares about making a great gadget for reading (it couldn’t care less how, what, or if people read on the gadget). Nook is the only real competitor and unless Google saves it (or buys it) it won’t last (B&N just doesn’t have the resources to compete long-term).  

Amazon has basically done a few key things -

  1. It has focused on reading. The iPad was perhaps the biggest temptation to veer from that path and Kindle 3 shows Amazon has resisted it.  
  2. It has set itself up to invest in the Kindle for a long time.
  3. It has improved relentlessly. Until Kindle 3 we only saw the impact of the Kaizen philosophy in the service and the bookstore and in Kindle Apps. You have to look at the sheer number of improvements in Kindle 3 and realize kaizen is beginning to show up in the device too.

The Kindle 3 is the best current eReader - and still Amazon is improving the device, store, and infrastructure relentlessly.

Not only do Nook and Sony Reader have to catch up to the Kindle 3 they have to do it given that Amazon is improving faster than they are. It’s a race where the runner in front of you suddenly reveals bionic legs and starts accelerating.

With eReaders the inflection point is going to become apparent like it did with ebooks – 6 months after it has occurred. We’ll look back and realize the inflection point has long since passed and will try to piece together exactly what happened.

Well, the Kindle 3 happened.

The only question left is – Is it an inflection point only for the survival of eReaders OR Does it also cement the Kindle 3 as the winner of the eReader wars?

Kaizen, Deming & Jeff Bezos

There are a few really interesting Jeff Bezos related articles that all stem from -

  1. Jeff Bezos spending a week working at an Amazon distribution Center in Lexington, Kentucky -

    “Thanks so much for your interest in speaking with our CEO Jeff Bezos,” said spokeswoman Patty Smith. “Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to arrange any interviews or photos this week while he is in Lexington.

    “He is there to work,” Smith said, “and, unfortunately, we are just not scheduling any interviews while he is in town.”

    Local Amazon employees say Bezos is working in the warehouse with the company’s hourly employees to see what they do and hear their comments about their work

  2. Mr. Bezos’ focus on Kaizen, Six Sigma and related stuff.  Here’s a snippet from a Harvard Business Review interview (from the Shmula Blog) -

    I mean I literally learned a bunch of techniques, like Six Sigma and lean manufacturing and other incredibly useful approaches …  that execution focus is a big factor … for instance, we look at the number of customer contacts per unit sold. Our customers don’t contact us unless something’s wrong, so we want that number to move down—and it has gone down every year for 12 years. That’s big-time process management.

If you’re interested in finding out more, here are 2 good posts -

  1.  Jeff Bezos at the Gemba (from the Lean Blog).
  2. Jeff Bezos and Root Cause Analysis (another Mr. Bezos at a Distribution Center story).  

Here’s something more on Deming, Kaizen, and the auto industry -

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy (stemming from the work of an American) that focuses on continuous improvement in every aspect of life (or in the case of a company, the company’s processes).

What Kaizen Means

What Kaizen Means

It works really well as part of a three step process i.e. ->

  1. Strategy  (what is our/my purpose and what is our/my  strategy to achieve it).
  2. Execution. 
  3. Review + Improve Strategy and Execution (the main kaizen step, although kaizen ought to be incorporated in every step).

It also goes hand in hand with the whole concept of “the 10 years, 10,000 hours rule” that Outliers and Talent is Overrated talk about i.e.

It takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice and focus on improving to truly master an area and reach a point of exceptional performance. This usually takes 8 to 10 years, sometimes longer.

 Kaizen and the 10 year rule go well together because Kaizen provides an exceptionally powerful framework to ensure that the 10,000 hours is actual ‘deliberate’ practice and makes you and your processes better.

Who is Deming?

W. Edwards Deming (courtesy Wikipedia) -

is perhaps best known for his work in Japan. There, from 1950 onward he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing and sales (the last through global markets) through various methods, including the application of statistical methods.

Deming made a significant contribution to Japan’s later renown for innovative high-quality products and its economic power. He is regarded as having had more impact upon Japanese manufacturing and business than any other individual not of Japanese heritage. Despite being considered something of a hero in Japan, he was only beginning to win widespread recognition in the U.S. at the time of his death

Deming taught the Japanese what became the foundation for the Kaizen philosophy and is the main reason that Toyota and Honda make better cars than the Big 3. His 14 points are revolutionary (you can find them on the Wikipedia Deming page) and some of the especially powerful points are -

 

*Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and stay in business, and to provide jobs.

*Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease cost.

*Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company. (See Ch. 3 of “Out of the Crisis“)

*a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective (See Ch. 3 of “Out of the Crisis“).

*Put everyone in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everyone’s work. “Massive training is required to instill the courage to break with tradition. Every activity and every job is a part of the process.”

The Kaizen philosophy has now (finally) made its way to the US, although it is better known here by buzzwords like ‘Lean Manufacturing’, ‘Six Sigma’, ‘TQM’ , etc.  

Applying Kaizen and Deming’s Work to Achieve Personal Excellence

If you combine the two principles of

  1. The 10 year, 10,000 hours rule.  
  2. Kaizen – continuous improvement and always creating better and more efficient processes.

It gives you a rather interesting way of looking at yourself and what results you get -

  1. Everything you get in your life (health, wealth, job satisfaction, relationships,etc.) is a result of the processes you use and the purpose you choose.
  2. Your processes are the way you think (your beliefs), the way you do things (your habits), and the way you think of the future and your aims (your strategy and your purpose). All of these can and ought to be improved.
  3. With a sufficient amount of time (10,000 hours) and a focus on Kaizen you can become world class in any area, regardless of ‘natural talent’ (the Talent is Overrated book is specifically focused on this idea). Do note however, that if you are not passionate about an area it’ll be harder to get in the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.
  4. Don’t overestimate what you can do in a year, and don’t underestimate what you can do in 10 years. Anthony Robbins came up with this – however, regardless of what you think of him, its a powerful concept.
  5. Its crucially important to decide very early or as early as possible what you want to commit to, and then  do it – that means Today. Tiger Woods’ dad started teaching him to hit golf balls and showing him technique before he could walk. The sooner you decide exactly what you want to achieve in your life and what area you want to excel in, the sooner you can start putting in your 10,000 hours.

A lot of self-help gurus use Deming’s principles (Anthony Robbins for example). However, instead of taking a $10,000 week-long retreat you just need to read up on Deming and Kaizen, look at the difference between Toyota and GM, and see the success of companies like Amazon.

Then make a decision on whether you will incorporate kaizen into your own life. And, if you decide yes, commit to it.

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