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Announcing the Launch of Kindle Kids’ Corner

We’re thrilled here at Kindle Nation to announce the launch of the Kindle Kids’ Corner, a new collaborative project with students and teachers. Here’s the press release from Vicki Davis of the Cool Cat Teacher Blog (http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com). The first first ebook review is by student Dru F. of the Westwood Schools! You go, Dru!

For immediate release
Kindle Nation Daily and Local School Announce Launch of New “Kindle Kids’ Corner” Blog to Help Kids Find Great eBooks

Camilla, Georgia USA (March 7, 2011) — Camilla, Georgia school, Westwood Schools and Kindle Nation Daily blogger Stephen Windwalker announce a cooperative effort to launch the Kindle Kids Corner Book Review blog (http://kids.kindlenationdaily.com). Westwood Students in grades 2-8 will be writing bi-weekly book reviews for Windwalker’s Kindle Kids Corner, a spinoff for kids from his popular Kindle Nation Daily blog targeted to adults.

“One thing many of us love about the Kindle is that it instantly expands the number of books at our fingertips from whatever we have in our homes or our school libraries to, literally, millions,” said Windwalker. “With the launch of the Kindle Kids’ Corner blog, we’re hoping that kids will help other kids find entertaining and appropriate ebooks and get a little writing experience in the process.”
Westwood Schools technology program, led by leading educational blogger, Vicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher Blog – http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com), has received many awards for their global collaborative efforts including the Flat Classroom project featured in Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat, and the NetGenEd project coordinated with Leading author, Don Tapscott. Vicki’s blog has received numerous awards including the 2008 International Edublog Award for Best Teacher blog and is co-author of a book on global collaboration in the classroom to be published by Pearson Publishing in January 2012.
“As we move to bring leading global collaborative efforts of all kinds to every student at Westwood, this is a natural progression for us,” says Davis. “We want our students to actively use social media to improve their lives and the lives of others and blogging is a unique form of writing distinct from the traditional essays written in classrooms.”

Ross Worsham, Headmaster, says, “The Internet is an incredible opportunity for our rural students to shine both nationally and internationally. We may play for state in Football but in our technology program our playing field is the world.”
This program will be led by curriculum director, Betty Shiver and piloted by middle school teacher, Deana Rogers and elementary teacher, Andrea Stargel. The first posting was from student Dru F. about the book The Last Night by Hilari Bell.
Windwalker, a former teacher, brick-and-mortar bookseller, and publishing executive, began writing books and blog posts about the Kindle the first week it was launched in November 2007, and his Kindle user’s guide was the number-one bestselling book in the Kindle Store in 2008. Kindle Nation Daily is located on the web at http://www.kindlenationdaily.com/ and Windwalker can be reached via email at kindlenation@gmail.com.

Westwood Schools is a private K-12 school located at 255 Fuller Street in Camilla, Georgia where “every child is a winner.” The school was founded in 1971. For information, call (229) 336-7992 or visit www.westwoodschools.org.
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For more information on the Kindle Kids Corner blog, contact kindlenation@gmail.com

Coming in March! A Touch of Revenge, a Lendable eBook Borrower’s Book, and Kindle Free for All in Paperback

By Steve Windwalker

We’re happy to share news here of a couple of new titles that will be coming out in March, and one that has just come out.

A Touch of Revenge. First, we mentioned the other day that Kindle Nation fave Gary Ponzo has completed work on an exciting sequel to his very popular Nick Bracco page-turner A Touch of Deceit. The sequel, entitled A Touch of Revenge, is due about March 31, and has already been featured with a sneak Free Kindle Nation Shorts preview. If you’d like to receive a quick email heads-up with a note from Mr. Ponzo when the sequel is available for purchase and download from the Kindle Store, just send an email — it can be blank, or not, it’s up to you — to KindleNation+touch2@gmail.com, and we’ll let you know!

A Book Borrower’s Book. Second, I’ve been having some fun lately collaborating with Martin Higgins on a short ebook about how to get the most out of the new Kindle lending feature, and it should be out in March as well. Martin brings a lot to the table on this project, since he and his wife Catherine MacDonald are co-founders of the phenomenally popular and user-friendly BookLending.com website (formerly the Kindle Lending Club.) Neither Martin nor I is any Gary Ponzo, but we’ve had so many responses to the email offer regarding A Touch of Revenge that we will do the same with this new book — it’s untitled as yet, but think”How to Lend and Borrow Kindle Books for Fun and Savings,” and it will be priced no higher than 99 cents. If you’d like to receive a quick email heads-up when How to Lend and Borrow Kindle Books for Fun and Savings is available for purchase and download from the Kindle Store, just send an email — it can be blank, or not, it’s up to you — to KindleNation+BLC@gmail.com, and we’ll let you know! (And yes, just in case you are wondering, this book will be lendable.)

Kindle Free for All in Paperback. Okay, this is deeply counter-intuitive, but one thing that happens each time I bring out the Kindle edition of a book about the Kindle is that readers — and these are almost universally Kindle owners, I am pretty certain — write to me and ask when the paperback will be out. And since it is very inexpensive and risk-free these days to publish a paperback, I have tried to co-operate, even though initially I kind of expected the paperback versions to sell a grand total of about two dozen copies, most of them to blood relatives. I was wrong. The paperback version of my Kindle 1 and Kindle 2 guides have now sold over 15,000 copies, and people tell me that they enjoy following along with the paperback as they try things out on their Kindles. Okay, cool, then. So I have just brought out a paperback version of KINDLE FREE FOR ALL: How to Get Millions of Free Kindle Books and Other Free Content With or Without an Amazon Kindle, which came out in an ebook edition in December and has already sold over 10,000 copies. I priced the 172-page paperback at the lowest possible price that I could set and still get retailers to carry it: $7.99. Indie author and publishing whiz April Hamilton, who is going to end up being a very important part of Kindle Nation’s future if she doesn’t watch out, has done a gorgeous job on the paperback formatting just as she did on the Kindle edition, and she has also created a very nice accompanying page of all the links included on the book — let’s call it the Kindle Free for All Links Page and you’ll find it at http://www.kindlenationdaily.com/KindleFreeForAll.html or http://bit.ly/FFA-links — which I am hopeful will be the second thing that readers try immediately after tapping on a page in the paperback. This won’t be for everyone, but if it works for you, there it is!

Are We Better or Worse Off, with Kindle?

Remember the question that helped vault Ronald Reagan into the presidency back in 1980? With apologies to President Reagan’s debate prep team, a slightly different version of that question occurred to me the other day as I was finishing work on a chapter of a new book that I’m co-authoring with Martin Higgins, co-founder of BookLending.com:

“As readers, are we better or worse off than we were when the Kindle was launched on November 19, 2007?”

I put the question out there on the Kindle Nation Facebook page — by the way, stop by and say hello! — and got some interesting responses, which I will post below. 

What do you think? Please post a comment on Facebook or email your thoughts to KindleNation+Better-or-Worse@gmail.com!

    • John Nelson  
      Far, far better off.
    • Cindy Keim  

      Way better off!!!!

    • Pauline 
      I know people who read MORE since they got a Kindle!
    • Cliff 
      I know I’ve read more with my Kindle, and I’ve only had it for a month.
    • Brenda 
    • Emma  
      I think we are much better off! I know I am! Revisiting classics, reading genres and authors I may never have thought of before, and reading everything faster! What’s not better off?
    • Tracy 
      Kindle is a wonderful thing ♥
    • William  
      Better off. I still prefer DTBs, but no doubt the Kindle is a wonderful invention. My wife certainly loves hers.
    • Paulette  
      Much better off. I have not met/heard anyone complain about not liking their Kindle. Certainly, I have read more and my husband loves his. Thanks KINDLE.
    • Leslie
      I am definitely reading more, discovering new authors and genres. The only problem I have with my Kindle is that it’s so hard to put down, and I’m neglecting other things. Guess I’ll have to hire a maid!

How do I love thee, Kindle Text-to-Speech? Let me count the ways.

Kindle Text-to-Speech
How do I love thee, Kindle Text-to-Speech? Let me count the ways. I have named thee, with a little help from an eyebrow-raising Significant Other who may a time or two have looked askance as I rolled over and donned my headphones of an evening. I have named my Kindle’s voice Ursula. This imagined creature may or may not be disembodied, but she never seems to tire of reading to me, talking to me, entertaining me. When it’s just me, my headphones, and Ursula, of course, it’s all about me.
I will admit it: I love listening to newspaper, magazine, and blog articles, including my daily Instapaper dispatch, in the robot-speak of Ursula’s Kindle Text-to-Speech. Originally I was resistant to listening to books with Kindle Text-to-Speech, but Ursula aims to please. Her voices and pronunciations have been upgraded over time by Kindle’s Text-to-Speech partner, Nuance Communications, and I have grown accustomed to listening with comfort, enjoyment, and enrichment as she reads me free and paid books purchased in the Kindle Store, downloaded from the websites mentioned in this book, or sent to me by authors and publishers interested in having their work considered for Kindle Nation Daily sponsorships programs.
With the exception of those Kindle Store books whose publishers have specifically opted out of Kindle Text-to-Speech — and shame on them! — Kindle Text-to-Speech will read aloud to you from any book, newspaper, magazine, blog, manuscript, dramatic script, memorandum or other file that you can get onto your Kindle Home screen.
I’ve even sent recipes to my Kindle so that Ursula could read aloud to me while I was preparing Potage Parmentier in the kitchen.
And please don’t tell the Massachusetts state troopers, but I have even sent driving directions to my Kindle so that it could read them aloud to me in my car. I’ve gotten handy at using the space bar to pause the read-aloud process, but I run into problems if a segment of my trip is longer than 15 minutes, because Ursula does have a tendency to doze off beside me if she goes that long without speaking. Alas, now that we’ve heard the horror stories of Kindle owners being arrested for having an open Kindle in the car while driving, I must ask you to destroy this page of the Kindle edition of your book immediately after you read it. A Kindle, apparently, is every bit as dangerous to highway safety as an open bottle of beer.
But that’s just the beginning. Don’t tell Ursula, but there’s more, much more. To learn about Kindle’s other free audio features, check out Chapter 9 of Kindle Free for All, just 99 cents in the Kindle Store or $7.99 in paperback.

eBook Leaders Show Random House Sitting Pretty As Amazon’s Kindle Store Discounting Plays Crucial Role in Picking Winners

For the past few weeks, we’ve been paying more attention than usual to the USA Today bestseller lists that come out each Thursday because they have provided a fascinating window into the changes that are taking places in what we read and the publishing sources for the books that we are reasing.

Once again, the USA Today top 50 list for the week ended February 13, 2011 shows a healthy representation of titles for which the ebook format is the highest-selling format. There are 19 such titles this week and we provide a full list of those 19 titles below, with their list prices and Kindle Store prices as of today.

For each of the titles listed here, the first price shown is the publisher’s list price as reported by USA Today, and the second, linked price is the Kindle Store price. Wherever the publisher is a participant in the agency-model price-fixing scheme, the two prices will often be the same. For other books, Amazon may discount the book further for Kindle customers at its discretion.

While we are looking, a couple of other tidbits that caught our attention:

Among traditional publishers, Random House and its imprints are the place to be for authors these days. Random House is the leading traditional publisher in the U.S., and some may have been nervous for its authors when Random decided to abstain from the agency-model price-fixing scheme and, in the bargain, from the much-hyped Apple iBooks Store. But Random and its imprints and authors have benefited hugely from the price flexibility that Amazon and other retailers have been allowed, especially since the publisher and the authors get paid based on full list price even if a title is discounted below wholesale cost in the Kindle Store and elsewhere. Sixteen of the USA Today Top 50 are published by Random and its imprints, which is a dominant position given other changes in the composition of he bestseller lists. Given that Random has achieved that position without a single sale through the iBooks store, that dominance speaks eloquently of the utter failure of iBooks.

Meanwhile, Amazon and others should take very seriously the king-making role that results from the company’s selective discounting for Kindle titles. It seems very likely that a fabulous book-group natural like Elizabeth Stuckey-French’s novel The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady should be headed straight to the highest rungs of the Kindle Store bestseller list, especially after recent rave reviews in the New York Times, Denver Post, Boston Globe, and Kindle Nation Daily. The book is published by Random imprint Doubleday, which means that Amazon controls price and discounting in the Kindle Store just as brick-and-mortar booksellers control price and discounting for the hardcover edition. But with Amazon selling the Kindle edition for $13.90, Jeff Bezos and his minions might as well be standing at the gates of bestseller heaven blocking the entrance of one of the more distinctive, independent voices to come along in American fiction in recent years. It says here that as soon as Amazon brings the retail price of Revenge down to the $5-$10 promotional price sweet spot provided for Stieg Larsson, Sara Gruen, John Grisham and others, it will have another bestseller in the making.

Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey Results: How Agency Model Publishers Are Killing Their Own Kindle Sales

(One of several Kindle Nation posts exploring the results of the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey. Click here to see a breakdown of results.) 
By Tom Dulaney, Contributing Reporter

Every salesman from Seth Godin to the guy at your local used car lot or Lexus dealership knows that one of the likeliest death knells for any prospective sale is signalled by these words from the buyer: “Let me think it over.”

eBooks are no different. While it is certainly true that the Kindle environment makes ebook purchases and downloads magically friction-free and convenient, that seamlessness does not turn Kindle owners into a nation of idiots.

For a whopping 88% of the 2,275 respondents in the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey, “Let me think it over” translates into identification with the survey’s statement that “I frequently choose to delay purchasing an ebook that I want to buy if I think the price is too high.” 60% clicked “strongly agree” with the statement, and another 28% selected “agree.”

Those not coming down on the side of “wait-and-see” are a paltry 3% not sure about their actions, 4% who disagree and don’t delay, and another 4% who strongly disagree and pay up with abandon.

The DMZ no man’s land in the price struggles between publishers and readers is bordered by the $10 price line and the $12.99 price line, the survey suggests. In that range, 50% of survey respondents say they have paid the price occasionally for newly released titles. Some 8% “strongly agree” they have done so, while 42% “agree.” Some 46% disagree or strongly disagree; they haven’t flinched and paid. A neutral 4% sits in the middle.

So, half the respondents occasionally do pay from $10 to $13 dollars for an ebook, and just under half never do so. Cross the $13 parallel into more expensive waters, and things change dramatically, as shown a bit further below.

Whether large or small, traditional or indie, publishers and authors would do well to read between the lines here. For anyone with the sense to juxtapose these survey results with a look at the price composition of the Kindle Store bestseller lists, it becomes clear in a hurry that it is customers, not publishers, who are setting prices in the Kindle Store.

And any publisher or author who blows off the issue thinking the “delay” means the buyer will be back sooner or later needs to audit Business 101 next semester: You never recoup 100% of pushed-off sales.

Ominous news from the survey for big-league publishers and bestselling authors pushing higher prices are these figures from the survey: 76% of respondents say if “publishers keep charging higher bestseller prices, I’ll buy more backlist or indie titles.” To paraphrase the song, if you can’t be with the author you love, then love the one you’re with. 

Once again, it’s worth a look at the composition of the Kindle Store bestseller lists: 18 of the top 50 bestselling titles in the Kindle Store are by indie authors, compared with zero just nine months ago when publishers were launching their ill-fated agency model price-fixing scheme. Those 18 indie titles will sell over a million Kindle copies this month alone, and those are a million copies that traditional publishers will never have a chance to sell again.

There’s no doubt readers are much more price conscious this year. “With recent ebook price controversies, I’ve become more price conscious,” is the statement presented in the survey. Some 83% subscribe to the statement, with 43% saying they “strongly agree” that they are more price conscious and 40% saying they “agree” that they pay more attention to prices. Only 8% say they are not more tuned into prices, with another 10% opting out of the question by saying they are “not sure.”

Additional data indicates a smattering of respondents are occasionally paying more than $9.99 for books. The survey statement was: “I didn’t think I would be willing to pay over $9.99 for ebooks, but I’ve been doing it at least twice a month.” Only 14% admit cracking against their resolve, with only 2% strongly agreeing that they pay more and 12% merely agreeing they do so.

Some 36% disagree, denying they pay over $9.99 and 39% strongly disagree with the statement. An unsure 12% sit in the middle. To sum that up, nearly 75% say—in this survey question at least—they are not paying over $9.99 “at least twice a month.”
Exceed the $12.99 ceiling for newly released titles and resistance stiffens. “I occasionally pay $13 or more for newly released ebook titles,” is the statement respondents were presented with. Only 3% “strongly agree”; 16% “agree”. That is a 31% fall off from the 50% who relented and paid in the $10 to $12.99 range. To sum it up, 74% hold firm and do not buy newly released titles priced over $12.99.

Even if the ebook is professional or technical in nature, price resistance over the $9.99 tag is strong. For those types of ebooks, only 6% strongly agree that they would pay the surcharge for the specialty ebooks, and only 15% agree. A large 24% are unsure, perhaps never faced with the decision. But 32% disagree, indicating they would not pay more, and 23% strongly disagree.

(One of several Kindle Nation posts exploring the results of the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey. Click here to see a breakdown of results.)

Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey Results: Citizens of Kindle Nation, Meet the Citizens of Kindle Nation

(One of several Kindle Nation posts exploring the results of the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey. Click here to see a breakdown of results.) 

By Tom Dulaney, Contributing Reporter

She’s an avid reader. 

She’s “a woman of a certain age,” and without putting too fine a point on it, just between us we can acknowledge that she’s over 54. 

She loves to pick up new technology, the earlier the better if her budget permits. 

She lives in the US. 

An ebook’s author and price are important factors when she decides whether or not to buy an ebook, but so are recommendations by those she trusts, including friends and family, Kindle Nation Daily, and the “crowd sourcing” of Amazon reviewers. 

She’s very aware of ebook pricing and the price wars of the past year. She is a partisan in passionate support of lower ebook prices and greater selection, and she is willing to play a pro-active role and be the price-setter herself.

Who is she? 

She may be you, and she is certainly the “typical” ebook lover among the record 2,275 people who responded to the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey conducted by Kindle Nation Daily in January.

A point of interest: Survey respondents were asked for their demographic information in the most gentle of ways. 2,228—or 98% of all 2,275 respondents—shared information about age, gender, and more.

The preponderance of respondents own and love their Kindle devices. The survey was open to the whole world during end of January, regardless of device they use to read ebooks. Survey details indicate large numbers of the respondents have devices other than Kindles on which they can read books from the Kindle Store. However, the overwhelming number of respondents do own Kindle devices, but are multi-device households.

The survey’s 15 questions collected detailed information on readers’ ebook buying habits, their preferences, their resistance to higher ebook prices, and their opinions on the key players in the book business, including authors, traditional publishers, independent authors, literary agents, Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs of Apple, and even Kindle Nation.

The data collected is detailed, so we will offer a series of articles breaking down the responses during the next few days.

For now, a closer look at the people who responded in general terms:
  • 67% are female, 33% male
  • 51.5% are over 54; 46.4% are between between 25 and 54; only 1.3% are under 25.
  • 70% call themselves “tech savvy,” but a significant 17.2% say they are not.
  • 75% love technology, and 70.1% are early adopters of new gadgets.
  • 17.3% use their Kindles when traveling internationally.
  • About 93% live in the US.
  • 1.5% are Canadian; 1.3% live in the UK, and another 3% are spread around the rest of the world. 
  • 7.1% frequently speak or read a language other than English.
  • 14% are — at some level — authors, publishers, journalists or bloggers.

(One of several Kindle Nation posts exploring the results of the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey. Click here to see a breakdown of results.)