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Just released in the Kindle Store: The Complete User’s Guide To the Amazing Amazon Kindle 2

(The Complete User’s Guide To the Amazing Amazon Kindle 2: A Kindle Owner’s Toolkit Of Over 500 Tips, Tricks, and Links To Help You Get the Most Out of Amazon’s Revolutionary e-Book Reader & Free Wireless Web Browser has been live in Amazon’s Kindle Store since Sunday afternoon and has already cracked the top 25 bestsellers there, although the book’s bibliographic metadata, product description, and sort categories are not yet live on the Amazon site. So, just to make it a little easier for you to get a sense of what the book provides while it is still being offered at a very low promotional price, I am posting the content of the Amazon product description here).

Here’s the beta version of the definitive new guide to the vastly improved Kindle 2, by the author of the 2008 Kindle 1 guide that outsold all other first-generation Kindle guides combined. Find out why the Kindle is still king among e-book readers with an astonishing array of new hardware and software features that make it a delightful snap to read anything from bestsellers to classics to your daily papers or a memo from a colleague. And with a treasure trove of more than 500 tips, tricks, resources and links Windwalker’s Kindle 2 guide will make you wonder if Amazon has evolved the e-reader that does not need a computer (Kindle 1) into the e-reader that *is* a remarkably versatile mobile computer (Kindle 2) with totally free “anywhere” wireless service paid for by Amazon.

In addition to scores of hacks and resources to help you make the most of the Kindle 2 reading experience and easily acquire fully-formatted free content for your Kindle, Windwalker also goes far beyond the user’s manual w tells you what you need to know, with updated links, so that you can use the Kindle 2’s surprisingly powerful and user-friendly free wireless web to check email, news, scores, stocks, bank accounts, favorite blogs, movie listings, book reviews, shopping choices, travel information, and even the local weather!

Written for serious readers as well as early adopters and “gadget heads,” Windwalker’s book-length guide — 40,000 words in this inexpensive beta edition — comes elegantly formatted for the Kindle with a fully interactive table of contents that make for user-friendly navigation and hundreds of links through which you can access resources directly with your Kindle browser or, if you take advantage of Windwalker’s free offer, download to your desktop or notebook computer. If you own the first-generation Kindle and you are trying to decide whether to upgrade to the Kindle 2, this book will help you with the due diligence necessary to make an informed decision, and even provides helpful information on how to help harvest some of the funds for an upgrade from the process of disposing of your Kindle 1.

Chapter Headings also include:
Great Websites for Free Content – What’s New with the Kindle 2 – Up and Running: Getting Started with Your Amazon Kindle 2 – Getting and Reading Books With Your Kindle – Sampling Books – Saving Items for Later – Getting and Reading Periodicals and Blogs with Your Kindle – Using Google Reader to Read Your Favorite Blogs on the Kindle – Using the Kindle’s Audio Features – Connecting with the World With Your Kindle – Read and Answer Email Anywhere*, Anytime on the Kindle, Without Monthly Charges – Troubleshooting if You Have Difficulty Accessing Gmail or Other Web Pages – Traveling with Your Kindle – Using the Kindle to Translate Foreign or Technical Words and Phrases – Making the Most of Your Kindle Connections Overseas – Using the Kindle as a Travel Guide – The Kindle and GPS – Checking Sprint Wireless Coverage for the Kindle 2 – Downloading Kindle Editions via USB Cable – Other Tips and Tricks to Help You Get the Most out of Your Kindle 2 – Optimizing the Powers of Kindle Search – Returning a Kindle Store Purchase – Using Gift Cards, Gift Certificates, and Promotional Certificates to Give or Purchase Kindle Content – Recover Deleted Content at No Charge – Sign Up for an HTML File of the Links Contained in This Book – Writing and Publishing Kindle Content: 20 Steps to Publishing a Kindle Edition of Your Book or Document – How to Use Kindle, Amazon and the Web to Market Your Book and Connect with Readers – Improved Content Management and Sorting – Opening, Deleting, and Restoring Kindle Content – Let Your Kindle Read to You with a New “Read-to-Me” Feature – Hands-Free Reading Options – Improved Periodical Navigation – Improved Reading and Web Navigation with the Joystick and the Back Button – and much, much more!

How Many, How Many I Wonder, But They Really Don’t Want to Tell

(Weekly blog post at TeleRead.com)

By Stephen Windwalker, with apologies to songwriters Don Robertson and Howard Barnes and artists Elvis Presley, Eddy Arnold, Les Paul and Mary Ford for the title of this post

Even if I had never been a guest on the show, I’m sure I would make a regular weekly routine of listening to Len Edgerly’s Friday Kindle Chronicles podcast. Today Len deserves kudos for landing and conducting an interview with Ian Freed, Amazon’s vice-president for Kindle, and for utilizing the wisdom of crowds….

Read more….

Amazon is Keeping Up with Its Kindle 2 Order Flow

Although there have been rumors that Amazon would quickly sell out of the Kindle 2, current indications are that the company has done a better job this time of preparing for the demand. Kindle 2 sales have been extremely brisk, but an order placed this morning for a Kindle 2 with one-day shipping ($3.99 with Amazon Prime) still shows an estimated delivery date of February 25, one day after the Kindle 2 release.

Amazon has always played Kindle unit sales numbers extremely close to the vest, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if the company came out with an announcement of its one-day Kindle shipment figure for the Kindle’s February 24 release date. If they did, I wonder what would impress people. It’s been my guess for a while now that they will ship more than a quarter million Kindles this month.

Order these free books for your Kindle 2 before they disappear

Here’s a money-saving tip for new Kindlers who are awaiting for the arrival of their Kindle 2. Amazon, publishers, and authors often get together to offer temporary “zero-price promotions” on popular books in the Kindle Store, in addition to the thousands of free public-domain titles that are now available.

Naturally, these books do not remain free forever, but you do not have to wait for the arrival of your Kindle 2 to place your order. You can order these free books today and they will be delivered wirelessly to your Kindle 2 when you power it up for the first time. Just make sure that you place the order through the Amazon account that will be linked to your Kindle.

Eight of these books are being offered free by Random House through the end of February, and many are by authors who are publishing new work in 2009.

The ninth is a real treat, a major new Kindle exclusive cookbook from Cook’s Illustrated, and it alone may help you to expand the ways you have considered using your Kindle. The promotion allows Amazon to show off how the Kindle 2’s new, crisper display, zoom feature, and better hands-free functionality are more cookbook-compatible than its predecessor.

Finally, the tenth link here isn’t free, but it’s for an accessory that I highly recommend, especially if you think you might use the Kindle 2 either as cookbook repository or as a read-aloud companion while you are in the kitchen. M-Edge, which has emerged as a leading supplier of attractive Kindle covers for the original Kindle, has come out with a great selection of Kindle 2 covers that double as stand-up hands-free Kindle platforms. They range in price from faux-leather models at the same $29.99 price that Amazon is now charging for its branded cover to $54.99 (currently discounted to $44.99) for very attractive genuine leather models in several colors. Just visit the Kindle 2 Accessories page and scroll down (if you can!) past those dreamy three-figure designer covers from Cole-Haan.

Murder List by Julie Garwood

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death by Laurie Notaro

Prague by Arthur Phillips
Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston
Six Bad Things by Charlie Huston
Free-Range Chickens by Simon Rich

Looking beyond the “Text-to-Speech” Kindle Kerfuffle

(My weekly post for TeleRead.com for Friday, 2.13.09)

By Stephen Windwalker, founder and publisher of the weekly Kindle Nation newsletter

This week we shall speak of robots and pirates and a kerfuffle without a cause. Or not.

Among the more intriguing innovations new to Amazon’s just-launched but still unshipped Kindle 2 is a “Text-to-Speech” Read-to-Me feature wherein a somewhat creepy and robotic “voice” will read aloud to you from any text file that you purchase or otherwise acquire and download to the device. Whether it’s the latest New Yorker, a memo your boss sent you, or The Brothers Karamazov, the Kindle 2 will read it aloud while you are cooking, driving, or dozing off (hopefully not in that order), turn its own pages for you, and mark your place in case you wish to return to more active reading later. I fully expect that a future volume of DSM-IV will have a name for at least one syndrome originating from its victims’ childhood experience of having been forced to listen to bedtime stories read by the Kindle 2.

However creepy or psychologically scarring it may be under some circumstances, Read-to-Me scores high enough on the convenient and cool gadgetry scales that Amazon may have a clear winner: a feature that will drive Kindle device and book sales by adding new and special value to the books and other content that people buy from the Kindle store. Amazon and its Kindle already have a huge edge on e-book competitors based on access to publishers, front- and mid-list titles, and readers and their credit card information and practices. Read-to-Me will only magnify that edge, if it survives.

Which, if Author’s Guild executive director Paul Aiken has a say, may be in question.

Amazon has labeled the Read-to-Me feature “experimental,” which means that it reserves the right to discontinue it at any time. When the original Kindle was launched 15 months ago, its “experimental” features included the free 3G Whispernet wireless web, which was a great selling point and a keeper of an idea, and another idea so goofy that, well, the fact that it made it as far as the Kindle’s launch suggests that it may have come right from the top. That idea was called “NowNow” — think Ask Jeeves meets the Kindle, but just don’t ask Jeeves any questions about Amazon or the Kindle! — and it was neither a keeper nor much of a starter.

So, why is Amazon applying the “experimental” label to its “Text-to-Speech” innovation?

Those of us inclined to put two and two together may divine some connection between the “experimental” hedge and the fact that Aiken has come out swinging against “Text-to-Speech” with the distinct sound of a man who is speaking to copyright attorneys about an authors’ rights lawsuit.

“We’re studying this matter closely and will report back to you,” says the Author’s Guild website, and it advises authors to be tenacious with their e-book rights. The website also notes that audiobooks “surpassed $1 billion in sales in 2007,” much higher than e-book sales. After principles can be much more compelling when they are backed by 10-figure revenues.

The Author’s Guild is not widely known as a particularly democratic, open, or truly author-driven organization — compared, say, with PEN or the National Writer’s Union — but it has received plenty of ink lately with a reasonably successful legal settlement against Google Book Search and a less effective campaign against the Amazon Marketplace used book portal. At times the Guild has diminished its own gravitas by taking positions such as one which was widely interpreted to question the right of libraries to lend books to their patrons.

Amazon’s attorneys are no slouches, and most of the smart money and the smart people are on Amazon’s side here. When lawyers parse these issues they may make distinctions between public and private practices and between recordings and the transitory rendering of a purchased text in audio form.

If Paul Aiken should walk into a public performance hall at some point and find a Kindle propped up at a lectern reading aloud to a crowd of rapt listeners, he should by all means make a citizen’s arrest. But a copyright case targeting Kindle customers who purchase an electronic book file and then use available software to listen to part or all of it in the privacy of their homes seems as laughable as the one about the library books.

Still and all, as much as I am hoping to enjoying listening to my Kindle 2 read to me, discreetly, for years to come, I wonder if this “Text-to-Speech” kerfuffle may lead us into a further roiling of the waters. After all, this “Text-to-Speech” software is the product of Nuance, the Burlington, MA, software developer behind the popular Dragon Speaking Naturally “Speech-to-Text” programs. To my knowledge, nobody yet has sufficiently hacked Amazon’s DRM-laden .AZW Kindle text files to open them up beyond the Kindle Store where untold acts of piracy might be lurking, but if “Text-to-Speech” starts talking to “Speech-to-Text,” might there not be hell — and a lot of lawyers — to pay?

Stephen Windwalker has been writing about Amazon’s strategic innovations since his niche bestseller on online bookselling in 2002, and his Complete Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle was the top-selling title in the Kindle store for 17 weeks in 2008, but on advice from Amazon’s attorneys Windwalker refuses to divulge how many books have been sold. Stephen is also publisher of A Kindle Home Page and the weekly Kindle Nation email newsletter.

Special Opportunity for Kindle 1 Owners

From Amazon’s new Kindle 2 web page:

Even though we’ve increased our manufacturing capacity, we want to be sure our original Kindle owners are first in line to receive Kindle 2. Place your Kindle 2 order by midnight PST on February 10th and you will receive first priority.

Here’s something cool just reported by Len Edgerly of the Kindle Chronicles: The New Yorker is now available on the Kindle!