Tag Archives: Amazon kindle

Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch Released

Amazon has announced the first Kindle tablet PC and the first touch-screen Kindle e-Readers.


  • Three new e-Ink Kindle models, two of which have a touch-screen
  • Larger screens, smaller bodies (no keyboards)
  • Lower prices – with optional on-screen ads. $79-$189
  • Kindle Fire – a color, touchscreen tablet device for $199
See more details and my comparison table to find out if its time to take the Kindle plunge, or upgrade to one of the new options.

Other Kindle Articles

Loan Kindle Books? Yes You Can!

So, One of the frustrations about the Kindle has been that you can’t share books with your friends and family.

Now, Amazon has at last announced that you can lend Kindle editions of ebooks

Usual caveat: Publishers have to allow this feature and most of the big ones won’t. Yet. 1

Loan Your Kindle Books : Details

  • The recipient does not have to own a Kindle or even have any Kindle apps installed. They will be prompted to download one of the free apps.
  • The recipient has a week to collect the book after you lend it to them, or the offer is cancelled
  • Your loaned book will be unavailable for 14 days
  • After 14 days, your book comes back to you automatically

So, you could be without access to your book for 3 weeks at most.

How To Lend Books From Your Kindle

Currently you have to do this from the Amazon website (though I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an in-Kindle option later)

From the Book’s Product Detail Page

Go to the product page and you’ll see a yellow bar above the title saying that yes, you did buy this and yes, you can loan it. Click the link.

Product Detail Page for Lending Kindle Ebooks

From The Manage Your Kindle Page

  • Log in to your account at Amazon.
  • To to Manage Your Kindle
  • Scroll down to “Your Orders”
  • Click the + next to the title you want to lend. If the publisher has enabled the ‘lend’ feature, you will see a “Loan this book” button.Loan a Kindle eBook from Manage Your Kindle Page at Amazon

The book will disappear from your available Kindle titles for a while.

What Happens After I Lend The Book?

You are taken to a page where you can fill in any email address.

Lending a Kindle eBook- Email Page image

Then you’ll see this confirmation page:

At this point, the book will still be in your library but you won’t be able to access it from your Kindle or Kindle apps.

Can I Lend To Someone Who Doesn’t Have A Kindle?

Yes. Anyone with a computer or other electronic device can receive the book and read it. There are Kindle apps for desktop, mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7 and Mac.

(But no, they won’t be able to read it on their Nook or their Kobo or Sony eReader or other competing eReader device, as far as I can tell).

What About My Note and Highlights?

This is an extremely cool feature, I think:

  • The person who borrows the book won’t be able to see your notes (protecting your privacy).
  • They can make notes in the book and when it comes back to you, you won’t see their notes either.
  • BUT (and this is the cool part) if they then buy their own copy of the book, their notes magically appear in their edition.

(I know, I’m a geek, but this makes me smile)

What About International Loans?

This one is subject to international rights rules. You might try to lend a book to someone in another country and find it’s not going through because of licensing and rights rules. Sigh. There’s not much Amazon can do about this one.

More Cool Kindle Features You Might Have Missed

You can also give Kindle books as gifts and earn commissions on Kindle titles if you’re an Amazon Associate (see my Kindle store for examples).

So, what do you think of this feature? Will you use it? What books will you lend? And how long do you think it will take publishers to sort out this global rights thing (hint: it’s taken them this long to allow their titles to be in ebook format. It’s only in the past five years or so that editors have started using email. Seriously!)

  1. Currently NOTHING that I have bought from a major publisher has ‘loan this book’ available. A short story, some self-published stuff and, interestingly, some Christian titles are all I can lend. Smart move, proselytizers! ;)

Kindle FAQs

With the release of better and less-expensive Kindles I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people who know I love mine and are wondering if they should be getting one.

So here, I present my answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions I hear about eReaders like Kindle. If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll add answers.

Do I Have To Connect It To My Computer To Buy Book?

No, the Kindle has a built in wireless connection to the web that uses the cellular network to allow you to connect anywhere and slurp books from the Amazon Kindle store into your Kindle.

(The new, cheaper wi-fi only version will only do this in areas that have a wireless network connection to the web. If you can browse the web using your laptop, you’ll be able to connect using this wi-fi only Kindle)

Can I Get Any Book I Want?

No. You can get lots of books. But it’s up to the publishers if they want to allow their books to be available on the Kindle. Sometimes they do sometimes they don’t. But there are hundreds of thousands of books available, including most new releases and publishers are working to get their back catalogues into ereader formats, pretty well. There are also thousands of books from small and independent publishers and self-publishing authors as well as free books: everything from classic literature to business books.

I Hate Reading On Screens. Why Won’t I Hate This?

Reading on an eInk screen is nothing like reading on a backlit computer screen, or phone screen. It looks like paper, the text isn’t pixelly, the contrast doesn’t strain your eyes. It is no more taxing on the eyes than paper. I swear. There is no glare and you don’t have to dog-ear the pages to keep your place.

Will I Be Able To Read Outdoors?

Yes. In fact, the display is more crisp in sunlight than artificial light. Forget your digital camera’s LCD screen or your phone’s screen, even your iPad’s or laptop screen. This is like paper. The brighter the light, the better it likes it. No glare, either.

I haven’t taken my Kindle to a beach, it’s true, but reading in the garden, in parks, and, I dare say, beer gardens, are all very much on the menu.

What Is The Difference Between 3G and Wi-Fi?

Wi-fi is a way to connect to the internet via a wireless internet router. If you can walk around your house and use your laptop or tablet anywhere without plugging it in, you have wi-fi. If you connect to the internet in coffee shops, that’s over wi-fi.

3G is the cellular data network that your smart phone uses. Kindles with 3G connectivity allow you to shop, download and sync book wherever you are (as long as there’s a cell-phone network in range).

Is There A Monthly Fee, Contract or Plan?

Nope. Amazon takes care of the charges for connecting to their “Whispernet” network to download books, even if you’re using the 3G connection.

Can I Lend Books

No. The BN Nook has a lending feature: you can lend Nook editions to other Nook owners IF, and this is a big ‘if’, the publishers approve the feature. Kindle does not currently have this feature and frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if the big publishers block this on their titles.

[Updated 9/2011]: YES. You can lend books to other Kindle users (in the same country/licence region) for 2 weeks. ALSO you can borrow books from your local library.

(There are some caveats: the borrower must be in the same country/licencing region as you; the publisher must have enabled lending and not all have; you must do the lending from the Amazon.com web interface; you cannot access the books you lend while they are away)

You can also share your notes and highlights and see what other people have been highlighting in the same books your reading. It can be amusing or annoying, depending on how you prefer to read (I mostly keep this feature turned off but sometimes use it. I have been known to send quotes directly from my Kindle to Twitter or Facebook, which is kinda cool).

How Much Do Books Cost?

There was a bit of a war going on between publishers and Amazon and readers earlier this year. Publishers wanted nothing to be below $14.99 and readers wanted nothing to be more than $9.99. As things stand now you can pay anything from $0.00 and up for books, but most newer titles are around the $9.99 mark. Things you could pick up in mass-market paperback are usually between $5.99 and $9.99 and some new releases come out around that $14.99 point.

Amazon is manoeuvering behind the scenes to find ways to pressure publishers to keep the prices down, so we’ll see.

How Many Books Does It Hold?

Enough. Seriously, the earlier Kindles hold over 2000 titles (of average size) and the newer ones say they can hold over 5000 titles. That’s plenty for me and probably you. But if you run out of space, you can simply archive titles at Amazon and download them again (no extra charge) whenever you want to access or re-read them).

What Is The Keyboard For?

The keyboard is there so you can type in titles, words, search terms, and even make notes directly on your Kindle.

Say you are reading some giant Russian tome and can’t remember the first time Ilya turned up or who he’s related to. Simply type ‘Ilya” and the Kindle will find all instances of his name, starting with the first. You can jump to that section, then press the ‘back’ button to return to where you were reading, secure in the knowledge that Ilya is, in fact, the farmer from Chapter 3.

If you like to make notes in your books, highlight a passage with the cursor then use the keyboard to make our comments in a little file. Next time you come back to this passage you’ll see the highlight and be able to bring up your note. Also, you can view all your notes and highlights on one screen and back them up at Amazon’s site so you never lose them.

[Updated 9/2011] The new ‘virtual keyboards’ on the newer Kindle models work in one of two ways: the lowest-end model does not have a touch screen. Instead, you use the five-way controller to highlight and select the letter you want, must like on a TV interface with your remote control. The touchscreen Kindles allow you to type directly onto a virtual, on-screen keyboard.

Does it have a dictionary/thesaurus?

Oh yes. As you’re reading, if you get stuck on a work, just move the cursor to the start of the word and a definition pops up, unobtrusively, at the bottom of the screen.

[Updated 9/2011]: The Kindle Touch models include X-Ray:  relevant Wikipedia entries downloaded with  each title and accessible from inside the book. For example, if your book mentions the Boer War, you will be able to highlight the term and have a Wikipedia explanation pop up on-screen.

Will It Read To Me

Yes, the Kindle can read to you. It’s no substitute for a great audio book recording (see my analysis here) but it’s nice if you’re in a pinch. Also, you can turn the volume down and let it just turn the pages for you while you read (great for knitters, crafters and moms with babies). It’s not available on all titles, again because the traditional publishing industry is scared by all this progress.

All models — except the $79 model — support audio content, so you can load your own mp3s or Audible content on to your Kindle and listen to it through built-in speakers or through headphones.

But I Love Real Books….

I do too. I love the feel, the smell, the heft of real books.

But what I love even more is reading them.

With my Kindle I can read them anywhere. There are smart-phone apps that sync with your Kindle account so you can read a few pages on your phone if you’re out and about and forgot to bring your Kindle. It starts up right where you left off, even on a different device.

I love never having to remember where I put my book down. never having to find scraps of paper for bookmarks, or cursing when I lose my place.

I love being able to hear an interview on the radio and buy the book while the author is still talking, all without leaving my house.

I love that I’m reducing my carbon footprint by not driving to a bookstore and buying a dead-tree book that has been processed and printed and shipped half way around the world (an awful lot of books are printed in Asia, you know)

What is WhisperSync?

Their ‘WhisperSync’ technology means that you can read your book on different devices and, as long as they are connected to the Internet, each device will remember what page you were on and automatically ‘open the book at the right point.

Should I Buy A Kindle Or A Nook?

I’m sentimental. I love the fact that Amazon did this because they believed it in. B&N did it because it made business sense so I’ll stick with Kindle as long as they make it and support it.

(the very savvy Chris Brogan has a compelling argument here for sticking with Amazon and Kindle.)

[NB This section compares only the original e-ink Nook and the e-ink Kindles] The Nook has a couple of features that aren’t part of Kindle. One is the color screen at the bottom that lets you browse by cover art. As a Kindle-lover, I see this as unecessary frippery that’ll probably drain the battery and cause the end of world civilization. But you might like it better than browsing the text-only list of titles on the Kindle.

That Nook Lend-To-A-Friend feature is appealing too. I’m just not convinced that a, the publishers will go along with it and b, that Kindle won’t implement it too. Kindle and Nook now allow for lending to a friend (as long as the publisher allows it). Kindle has partnered with libraries to allow you to borrow from your local library’s collection.

The selection of books is pretty much the same (why would publishers go with one device and not the other, and reduce their sales?).

Kindle does not support the ePub format, the open-source format that allows you to transfer books between different ereader platforms.

Kindle or Nook? I guess it comes down to whether you want to buy your books from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

What If I Still Don’t Want An eReader?

You can still read ebooks – on your computer or smart phone. Amazon has created ‘apps’ (applications or programs) that allow you to access Kindle content on other devices.

If I Can Read On My Computer, Phone Or Tablet, Why Would I Buy A Kindle?

[Updated 9/2011]: Amazon now offers a Click here to buy through my affiliate link (I get a kickback) or here to buy with no links: http://amazon.com/kindle

Want To Know More?

Read my other articles:

Kindle Touch Screen eReaders and the Kindle Fire Tablet

Nook and Kindle Comparison, from when the Nook was released last year

How To Publish Your Book On Kindle

Kindle 3 – Should I Buy One Now?

Using the iPad as an eReader and how it stacks up to Kindle

Should I Buy A Kindle 3?

Another generation of Kindle is here, Kindle 3 and now you’re asking yourself,

“Should I buy a Kindle 3?”

With the new, wi-fi only Kindle 3 priced at only $139, how much longer are you going to be able to resist? (The Kindle 3 wireless version, with free 3G connectivity AND wi-fi, is still $189. The new version of the larger Kindle DX is $379)

What’s New With Kindle 3 And Do I Care?

Have you read my Kindle FAQ, yet? If you have basic questions, start here.

High-Contrast Screen

The big thing that caught my attention about the Kindle 3 were the words:

“All-New, High-Contrast E-Ink Screen, 50% better contrast than any other e-reader”

If I’m totally honest, I’ll admit that I was a bit disappointed with the contrast on my Kindle 2. The page seemed a little greyer than on my original Kindle and I would have loved just a bit more contrast. It never bothers me when reading in natural light, but under poor light conditions it made a difference.

They’re touting ‘new, improved fonts’ too, which is always nice.

Faster Page Turns

You really do adjust to the flickery, eInk page turns, but making them “20% faster” is no bad thing.

Double The Storage Space

I’ve never had a problem with my Kindle becoming too full because I archive books (send them back to the Amazon server) once I’ve finished with them. Slurping them back into the Kindle is a matter of a minute or so.

Some people might like to have all their books right on the device all the time, however. With the new “wi-fi only” option, too, having your books on the device makes sense, in case you aren’t within wi-fi range when you feel a desperate urge to re-read last summer’s hot thriller.

Smaller Body, Same Screen Size

Anything than makes the Kindle easier to slip in to a pocket or handbag is a good thing.

Less body also means a lighter Kindle, although I already thing it’s a great weight.

I just hope the new, smaller body still leaves somewhere to grip onto without covering the screen in smudgy fingerprints.

Quieter Turn Buttons

This is a wonderful thing for those of us who like to read in bed while someone else is falling asleep next to us. I’ve been accused of something close to Chinese Water Torture while clicking my way through a book some evenings….

Enhanced PDF Reader

Kindle 2 had PDF support added as an after-thought. This one has an enhanced reader with dictionary look up and the ability to make notes and highlights.

PDFs are always going to be at war with progress, however, as they were created to fix a page-design to a certain format and new technological interfaces are all about reshaping content and delivering it how the reader (not the author) wants it presented.

However, if you do read PDFs on your Kindle, it’s certainly be nice to make notes and highlights.

New Web Browser

If you don’t have a smart-phone and you don’t have an iPad or another way to easily access the web while away from your desk, this might excite you. It certainly excited me when I got my Kindle…but then I got a smart-phone and never used this function on the Kindle again. Still, nice to see they’re working to improve it.

There are two versions of this new, dark-grey Kindle available:

The all-singing, all-dancing download-books-anywhere version for $189 and

The slightly less flamboyant Wi-Fi-only

Does “Wi-Fi Only” Mean And Will I Hate It?

So I’ve been talking about this “wi-fi only” feature on the cheapest Kindle.  What does that mean?

Well, on the other Kindles, you use the cell-phone network to download books directly to your Kindle. You don’t need a plan or anything: Amazon has a deal worked out with Sprint and they pick up the cost (or the publishers do…but that’s getting too far behind the scenes. All you need to know is is you get free access to the Amazon store wherever you are, as long as you are in range of a cell tower).

“Wi-fi only” is going to be more restrictive. Like the early iPads, these Kindles will only connect to the store if your home has a wireless network (can you browse the web from your laptop on the sofa? Then you probably do) or if are in a wi-fi hotspot (like a McDonalds or a Starbucks or one of the zillion other places that offer Wi-Fi to entice people to come and hang out there).

So, you won’t be able to download books as you stroll down the street.

You will have to find and  access an open wireless network


  • If you are doing most of your reading at home, or have easy access to lots of wi-fi hotspot
  • If you don’t care about downloading books wherever you are and can probably wait until you get home to do it
  • If you want to save $50 on the device and buy yourself five books instead…

This is a great deal. Buy it now!

Kindle screenshot

How To Become A Best-Selling Novelist on Kindle

As a reader I’m a big Kindle fan. As a writer I’m…also a big fan.

While the big publishing houses seem to be missing the point with Kindle, authors are not.

A whole host of authors – from traditionally published to newbies – are self-publishing their books on Kindle, climbing the best-seller charts and writing about how they’re doing it.

I’m researching the topic for a series of how-to articles. Before I get to the technical side of things I wanted to share some resources on the just-as-important side of sales, marketing and ‘what you can actually get from publishing on Kindle’.

So here’s some further reading for you, if you’re a novelist wondering if Kindle (and ebooks in general) are worth your time and attention.

(Hint: the answer is ‘yes’)


Yes, People Are Buying Kindle Books

JAKonrath on selling 16,000 copies of his ebook (this one sparked controversy in the traditional-publishing world when Publishers Weekly dismissed his success in a snooty — and inaccurate fashion — and Konrath jumped into the debate. Fun!).

How novelist Elisa Lorello’s first novel reached number 6 on the Kindle bestseller list (her second is up there now).

Aaron Ross Powell on selling a draft novel on Kindle (and landing a publishing deal).

What If I’m Not A Well-Known or Published Author?

JAKonrath again on authors whose books are selling better than his, even though he is a mid-list published author and they (as far as he can tell) are not.

Promoting  Your Kindle eBook

How to promote a Kindle ebook, featuring an interview with Boyd Morrison who landed a traditional publishing deal based in part on his Kindle sales numbers.

Pricing Your Kindle eBook

One more from JAKonrath, on the importance of pricing.

What questions do you have about publishing your work as an eBook? What do you need to know before you make the decision? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to find you some concrete answers.

Interested in self-publishing for Kindle? Want to receive the rest of the series by email as it appears?
Subscribe to Julie Duffy » Kindle Publishing by Email via Feedburner. No fluff, just the stuff about Kindle.

Kindle Software Update

[Updated 9/28/11: Want to read about the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch? Click here.]

Now I’m sure that this is a coincidence, given that Barnes & Noble’s new ereader the Nook comes out today, but I just got an email from Amazon saying that my Kindle now supports PDFs. And you can rotate the screen, to give yourself more screen real estate, for those wider layouts.

(One of the glitzy selling points of Nook seems to be its color touch screen, for displaying book covers and controlling the machine, but another feature that people were excited about was the native support for PDFs. Up until now, with Kindle, you’ve had to email them to yourself and pay a fee, or convert them to Kindle format with third-party software, and lose the formatting.)

Amazon says that you can just wait and let your Kindle update over the wireless connection, but I was impatient. So I’ve downloaded the update, followed the instructions for manually installing it, and am about to play.Kindle Software Upgrade

OK, up and running.

I’ve dragged a PDF doc to my Kindle (via the USB cable) and am opening it.

First Impressions — and Hyperlinks

The first thing I notice is that it looks pretty good.

The second thing I notice is that there is a hyperlink right there on the first page. I wonder if it works… No. There five-way navigation button (that would usually pop a little hand onto the screen and allow me to annotate my document or click on things) does nothing. Since a PDF is essentially a photocopy of a page, I’m not entirely surprised. However, on my computer this document is a dynamic PDF, which does allow me to click on the hyperlinks, so it’s a bit of a shame that the Kindle, with its web access, doesn’t.

(To be fair, I put the same doc on my iPhone – with the GoodReads app – and couldn’t click on the hyperlink either. I suspect it may have something to do with how the hyperlink was originally created. Unless, at creation, you tell a PDF document to make your hyperlinks active, you’ll end up with a dumb document on your computer screen too.)

The third thing I notice? Oh, it’s still black and white. ;)

On To The Text

Native PDF as-isOK, so I scroll into the text. It’s pretty small, and this is a PDF, not a tagged text, so I can’t use the built-in font resizer (that’s a short-coming of PDFs, which were designed to preserve a set layout. Useful sometimes, but not so necessary for most books, I think).

However, I use the nifty new rotate function to turn the page.Kindle Rotate Function

Much better. 1

Rotated PDF on Kindle

Although now there’s three ‘next page’s to read one PDF page, which means three e-Ink flickers to read one PDF page. That might be a bit much.

However, when I go back to the menu, to open up a new document, the menu is in landscape mode too. And the five-way button automatically compensates (so “down” on the button, even in this orientation, is still “down” on the screen). That’s nice.

And you can read regular books in this format, which makes the largest font size more readable (you get more words to a line).

Oh, and there’s a new ‘words to a line’ function, where you can tell it to add fewer words to a line. it doesn’t seem to affect the kerning (spacing between characters) as much as make the margins bigger).

They also give you the option of which way you rotate the text. This means you can have the keypad on the left or on the right. It’s a little thing, but it might affect your comfort. (it’s also means you can now read upside down in portrait mode too, if that tickles your fancy!)

The PDF Problem

I think the PDF support will always be a little clunky, until PDFs go away, because the point of a PDF is to tie the text to one layout (and to stop the text from being scraped out of the document and changed or pirated). A large part of the point of an ereader is to allow you to customise the layout and play with the text to make it fit you. (If not, why aren’t they all just PDF-viewing machines?)

There is an existing problem with PDFs, and that is the way designers use them. Even reading a PDF on a computer screen annoys me, because they are almost always designed for a portrait, 8.5″x11″ printed page, which is absolutely wrong for every monitor I’ve ever met.

For documents with charts and graphs, and for poetry and art books, PDFs make sense (for now.

But for novels and informational plain non-fiction PDFs are a really dumb way to display information and I think they’ll go away in time. Or maybe evolve radically.

Until then, I’m willing to bet that Amazon is going to take the flack because designers are going to continue to design PDFs to fit on a 8.5×11″ piece of paper, and the Kindle is many things but it’s not that.

In short

It’s nice to be able to drag and drop PDFs to my Kindle, because sometimes PDFs are how the information comes. Designers, however, have not been designing their PDFs to be read on a monochrome, e-Ink page, and it shows. If the designer uses a font color other than black, or if they think in 8.5″x11″ pages (which, let’s face it, a lot of them do. That’s why they’re using PDFs: to make sure we plebeian readers don’t mess up their beautiful layout), then it’s never going to look great on a smaller e-Ink screen. But, for the most part, it’s workable.

  1. The book in these screenshots is Michael Stelzner’s excellent How To Write A White Paper.

Kindle 2 Text-To-Speech

OK, so the Kindle 2 has this feature where a robo-voice will read your book to you.

The Author’s Guild is up in arms because, generally, authors sell the audio-book rights for a fee that goes some way to making up for the pitiful amount most authors are payed in advances and royalties (they are not all JK Rowling). It’s easy to mock the Author’s Guild for this, because the robo voice is, currently, so inadequate especially compared with a talented voice actor.

I feel some sympathy for the Guild, until I remember how stupid they’re being by fighting this.

Jamais Cascio has a really great article on the topic, which sums up the situation in a way that had me nodding vigorously :

The reason that [The Authors’ Guild’s] Blount’s wrong is that he’s just trying to hold back the tide, fighting a battle that was lost long ago. The reason that the 21st century digital writers [who mock the robovoice] are wrong is that they’ve forgotten the Space Invaders rule: Aim at where your target will be, not at where it is.

(thanks to WWDN:In Exile for this link)

He goes on to make some very realistic proposals about where the technology might go that would realise the Authors’ Guild’s fears. And then he points out that it doesn’t matter. You can fight it all you like (the record industry did), it’s going to happen and you should, instead, be expending your energy on figuring out a way to work with the approaching technology.

I think we are a very, very long way from the technology ever truly replacing a great reading. But quite apart from that, the fact remains that most people don’t listen to audio books. And why? Because they are phenomenally expensive.

Let’s look at the New York Times bestsellers list: James Patterson’s latest novel is up there. In hardback its list price is $27.99. The audio book is $39.99! For a novel. For a novel that will, in a few months come out in paperback and be sold at Walmart for under $10.

Add to that, a lot of audio books are read by mediocre readers.

But all is not lost.

The Author’s Guild should consider that as the text-to-speech technology advances, it might just be that it gets people MORE used to listening to their books, and increases demand for high quality audio books. ( I, for one, will never be able to resist hearing my favourite authors read their own works — well, those that are good at it. Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams spring to mind).

Think of wine-drinkers. How many people would risk a day’s pay on an expensive bottle of wine the first time they drink it? Precious few. But offer them a tasty $6 bottle and you let them edge their way into the market. They’ll keep drinking $6 bottles of wine or they’ll work their way up to Dom Perignon, or stay somewhere in the middle. But they’re drinking wine and taking it to other people’s houses and now they are in your wine-making world where you, as a wine-maker, can reach them.

I love my Kindle, and I understand that it might eventually put some mediocre actors out of business. And it might decrease sales for some audio books (mostly in non-fiction, according to my personal crystal ball). And I love the fact that desktop publishing and digital printing has made it faster, easier and cheaper to publish books, even though I understand that all the make-up men at the publishers have been out of their jobs for 20 years.

But yesterday I spend $18 on a pack of six greetings cards that were hand-fed in to a vintage letterpress machine by a boutique printing firm. And I’m really, really excited about seeing them (and touching them) when they arrive.

There will always be a market for a high quality product, as long as that product is relevant. And when it’s not? Well, telegraph operators are pretty much out of luck these days, and I’m not sure that any amount of lawsuits is going to do them any good.


These are two very good posts from the trenches: Neil Gaiman has a conversation with his agent, and the agent discovers she might have some more thinking to do.)

Wil Wheaton does a side-by-side comparison: reading from his latest book “Sunken Treasure” and allowing the Text-To-Speech technology to do it too. For a true comparnison, here is my Kindle 2 reading the same passage (recorded with a microphone, so you can hear the speaker quality too!)

(On a related note, Wil recently released this book in print and then offered a PDF download on the ‘please don’t be a jerk and forward it to all your friends’ license. Sales skyrocketed, but every time the digital download threatened to outpace the print book, he saw a jump in print sales too. His conclusion was that people were reading the PDF, then deciding they wanted a nice hard copy. This matches Neil Gaiman’s experience giving away ‘American Gods’.)

Update: Neil Gaiman has just posted a reminder about Lenny Henry’s audiobook version of Anansi Boys, which I love. It adds so much that I can’t imagine ever reading the printed book. It adds so much that it should kill this argument stone dead. Seriously. Have a listen…

Create Your Own Kindle eBooks

If you’re lucky enough to have a Kindle (or one of the new Kindle 2s that come out tomorrow), there is no need to go spending good money to put your own content on there.

If you have PDFs, HTML docs, word processor documents that you’d like to carry around on your Kindle, you can either pay 10c a doc to have Amazon convert and email them to your Kindle OR you can use this handy, free method.

[UPDATE 1/3/12 – Amazon has announced the latest Kindle format will move away from the Mobi format. Find out more at the Amazon Digital Publishing site]

Download the free Mobipocket eBook Creator software. Install it and fire it up. (Update 1: Txvoodoo, in the comments, suggests downloading the Publisher version rather than the Home Version. That’s the one I used. It gives you more options, and of course a little more complexity, but it’s still simple to use. Update 2: Just discovered  calibre for ebook conversion and library management. I like it. Read my thoughts on Calibre).


Select the file type of your original document (Word, PDF etc.) from the top right group [“Import File Type”].

Browse to the file on your computer, then click on ‘Import’,


Mobipocket imports the file but you’re not quite done yet.


After importing, you should arrive at a screen like this:


Your publication’s title appears in the main pane. In the left sidebar are links to things you can change about the ebook: you can add a cover image, table of contents, and metadata (that is, information that is not printed in the book, but will show up in libraries and on readers, such as publisher, author, publication date, etc). You should modify as much or as little as this as you need. If yours is a document for your own use, and this is your first time through,  just make sure it has the right title and author in the ‘metadata’ settings and move on.


On the same screen as Step 3, click on “Build” in the top tool bar. The program will  give you this screen:


You can choose more or less compression and you can choose to encrypt or password protect your book if you want. First timers/Personal users: just use the default settings and click “build”.


All going well, you should end up at a screen like this.


Make sure “Open folder containing eBook” is selected and click “OK”.

In that folder you’ll find various versions of the file. The one you need for the Kindle is the one with the PRC extension.

Make note of where this folder is (so you can find it again), plug in your Kindle and drag the PRC file from this folder over to the ‘documents’ folder on your Kindle.


I’ve found some odd formatting issues occasionally– page breaks not observed, justifications changed — but it’s nothing that bothers me as a casual user. If I was publishing for profit I’d have to figure out the optimal settings, and maybe I will some day. For now, though, I’m just happily converting, dragging and reading.

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