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Amazon Expands the Kindle Content Delivery System with Direct Wireless Downloads of Audible.com Audiobooks with No Cables, Computers, or USB Connections!

By Stephen Windwalker

10.14.2010, 5 pm Eastern

Here’s something new and very exciting for anyone who thinks they may enjoy listening to Audible.com audiobooks on their Kindles … or for that matter, anyone who wonders about the future of the Kindle as a delivery system for Amazon’s content:

Now you can download any audiobook directly and wirelessly from your Audible.com library to your Kindle 3 or Kindle Wi-Fi without the use of a USB cable or any other connection with your computer!
I’ve posted recently about how audiobooks from Audible.com’s extensive catalog of 75,000 professionally produced audiobooks work beautifully on all Kindle devices and can actually provide a less expensive alternative when agency model publishers fix foolishly high ebook prices such as the $19.99 set by Penguin — so far, at least — for Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants ebook.
Now, thanks to Kindle’s relatively new wi-fi capability — standard and free on both the wi-fi only and wi-fi+3G Kindle 3 models — and the fact that Amazon owns Audible.com, Kindle 3 owners no longer have to hassle with USB connections, computers, cables, and manual downloads to begin listening to any of their audiobooks on their Kindle. 

How big a deal is this?

In addition to the considerable pleasures of listening to the spoken word, this new development will prove to be a very big deal in all kinds of other ways for Amazon and its customers. While Apple continues to confound many of its customers by forcing us to engage in never-ending and always too lengthy dances of downloading and synchronizing by tethering our iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches via USB cables to our computers, Amazon has nailed the processes of wireless, effortless, in-the-background, cloud-to-Kindle synching, first for Kindle ebooks, magazines, newspapers, and blogs and now, just as elegantly, for large audiobook files. Clearly it is just a matter of time — and a short time at that — before there will be a next-generation Kindle sibling or cousin that provides equally seamless and effortless delivery for other audio and video products from Amazon.

Importantly, we are not talking about Kindle text-to-speech here, with the semi-robotic voice choices that I find fine for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, but which can be a tad annoying if you are listening to something of, ahem, finer literary quality. Audible.com recordings feature world-class voice acting talent.
And, while past hardcopy audiobook-on-disc prices in the $30 to $100 range may have ensured that we were more likely to acquire audiobooks from the public library or a yard sale than at retail, Audible.com pricing is just what you would expect of an Amazon subsidiary:
  • reasonable
  • competitive with print-book and ebook format prices, and
  • with a monthly billing plan reminiscent in some elements of Netflix — structured in such a way that customers like me are going to find it very, very easy, er, compelling, er, addictive to keep coming back for more.
Here are the steps, and the good news is that you only have to follow the first four steps once, or in the case of the fourth step, once a year:
  1. Sign into the Amazon.com account that is associated with your Kindle.
  2. If you don’t already have an Audible.com account, set one up starting from an Amazon-based page like this one for Fall of Giants. (Don’t let the $31.48 price for Fall of Giants scare you away. If you set up a monthly billing account with Audible.com, you’ll never have to pay even half that much for Fall of Giants or any other audiobook.)
  3. Use your Kindle-associated Amazon.com account as your Audible.com account. This is a new feature and it is important to make the steps that follow work, so if you already have an Audible.com account be sure to switch it over to your Amazon.com account (you’ll probably see a link for this in the upper right corner of an Audible.com page).
  4. Follow the prompts to choose a monthly or annual billing plan that’s right for you. Most Audible.com audiobooks cost either 1 credit or some dollar amount that is usually in the $15 to $30 range, so you will want to pay for most audiobooks with “credits” rather than cash. If you choose a plan that bills you monthly for a single credit, each credit will cost you $14.95. By choosing a plan that bills me annually in advance for 24 credits, each credit costs me $9.56. Credits accrue to your account when you pay for them and some can be rolled over; you certainly do not need to purchase an audiobook every month. (When a new account is set up, you should also receive a free credit to use during the first month.)
  5. Once your account is set up, select and purchase an audiobook. Pay for it with a free credit or any other credit that you have on account, unless you are selecting a title that costs less than your cost for a credit, in which case you may want to click on the option that allows you to pay the cash price instead. Complete the purchase process and verify that your new audiobook is in your Audible.com library.
  6. Turn on your Kindle 3, make sure the wireless is in the “On” position by checking the menu, and also make sure that your Kindle is set up for wi-fi and within range of an active wi-fi signal.
  7. From the “Home” screen, press the “Menu” button and select “View Archived Items.” Find your audiobook (hint: it will say “audible” just to the left of the title), and use the 5-way to select it.
  8. The audiobook will begin downloading, and when it appears on your Home screen you can begin listening to it. The downloading process will take a few moments, depending on the length of the book and size of the file, and during the download you may select “View Downloading Items” from the Home menu to to check on download progress.

Two important warnings:

  • Audiobooks files generally take up between 50 and 500 megabytes of storage space on your Kindle, whereas ebook usually take up less than 1 megabites. Generally you should avoid keeping more than two or three audiobooks on your Kindle at a time, in order to keep from having storage problems.
  • Many Kindle Nation citizens are likely to find, as I have found, that the process of buying and listening to audiobooks on the Kindle is seamless and addictive. Spend wisely!
*     *     *
At Audible.com, you can choose to download any of 75,000 audiobooks and more, and listen on your Kindle™, iPhone®, iPod®, or 500+ MP3 players.

Your Audible.com 30-day free trial membership includes:

  • This audiobook free, plus a bonus audiobook of your choice
  • 30% off any additional audiobooks you purchase
  • A free daily audio subscription to The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal
  • Member-exclusive sales and promotions

Helping Kids Around the World to Read, One Kindle at a Time

If you’re interested in helping to spread the magic of the Kindle Revolution around the world, you might be interested in this relatively new non-profit organization.

Worldreader.org is a Barcelona-based not-for-profit devoted to making digital books available to children in developing countries. Using emerging e-book/reader technology, the organization’s mission is to improve children’s lives.  (Here’s a link to a short video, courtesy of YouTube, showing the children’s excitement.)  Their promotional materials stress that e-book technology is “sharply reducing the cost and complexity of delivering reading material everywhere”.

The end-goal: to stimulate under-served youth internationally with “life-changing and power-creating ideas” in books published across the globe. Former Amazon.com executive David Risher is behind the project. His former boss, CEO Jeff Bezos, has praised Risher’s innovative philanthropic work.

The project has received attention from CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and The Huffington Post. In the July 5 article published by the Journal, Risher said that Worldreader.org is embracing the “long-term idea is that technology will ultimately help create a real culture of reading in parts of the world where that’s not been possible before.”

Risher and his colleagues are preparing for a year-long trial in Ghana, where the Ministry of Education has offered support, to determine the effects of e-book technology on the literacy of children. As they wage this e-campaign, Worldreader.org is underway building relationships with local African publishers and authors to digitize relevant content for Ghanaian communities.

For more information, visit Worldreader.org or go straight to the organization’s Donation Page.

"Strong Nook Sales Boost B&N Online Sales" Story? It’s Just Spin

File it under Silk Purses and Sow’s Ears.

Just in case you hear a business headline that seems to suggest that the nooK is spurring huge increases in online sales for Barnes & Noble, don’t let the spinmeisters mislead you. The real meaning of today’s Barnes & Noble quarterly earnings report is exactly the opposite of the spin from B&N. Here’s what they are saying:

Online (B&N.com) sales rose 32% to $210 million. B&N.com sales accelerated during the quarter and were up 67% in January compared to January 2009.  CEO Steve Riggio attributed much of the online sales gain to the launch of the nook e-reader, which began shipping in the middle of the quarter. He added that nook sales have been ‘strong at our bookstores since the product became available earlier this month.’

Excuse me?

$210 million in total online sales for the quarter ended January 31 is being presented as some kind of triumph and indication of the power of the nooK?

I know, it can be hard to keep track of all the zeroes, but how does B&N’s $210 million in total quarterly online sales compare with Amazon’s total online sales for the quarter?

Amazon’s figure was $9.52 billion for the quarter ended December 31, 2009, or 45 times those of B&N.com.

In 1997, when Barnes & Noble launched its online bookstore, my neighbors at Cambridge’s Forrester Research used the catchy wordplay “Amazon.toast” to predict how the competition between B&N, then America’s largest bookseller, and the upstart Amazon would play out. Let’s just say that Forrester didn’t nail that prediction. In 2003 B&N accounted for about 20% of U.S. bookselling market share, and Amazon for about 10%. The two companies still account for roughly 20% and 10% market share, but they have changed places.

But the markets don’t seem to be fooled by the latest Barnes & Noble spin job, especially after the company’s launch of the Nook was marred by one misleading claim after another. At mid-day in the markets the company’s stock is down about 5 percent.

It’s 7 pm EDT June 10, 2009 – Kindle DX Release Day – Do you know where your Kindle DX is?

Today is Kindle DX Release Day for Amazon, and anxious Kindle DX buyers have been checking their emails all day for those “Your order has shipped” messages. My DX will arrive tomorrow, and I am sure I will have impressions to share. Meanwhile, Engadget has posted a nice 29-photo gallery of an early Kindle DX unboxing, and Steven Levy of Wired.com has posted a balanced review of his test run.

Get your order in now and you can still get your Kindle DX this week with 1-day shipping.

Wireless Reading Just Got Bigger: Pre-Order the 9.7" Kindle DX Now for $489

Amazon has rolled out its latest version of the Kindle, the Kindle DX: Amazon’s 9.7″ Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation). It won’t ship until this summer, but you can pre-order it now by clicking here. Here’s the scoop directly from Amazon’s new page for the DX:

Here are the basics of the Kindle DX feature set:

Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines

Carry Your Library: Holds up to 3,500 books, periodicals, and documents

Beautiful Large Display: 9.7″ diagonal e-ink screen reads like real paper; boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and sharp images

Auto-Rotating Screen: Display auto-rotates from portrait to landscape as you turn the device so you can view full-width maps, graphs, tables, and Web pages

Built-In PDF Reader: Native PDF support allows you to carry and read all of your personal and professional documents on the go

Wireless: 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle DX, anytime, anywhere; no monthly fees, no annual contracts, and no hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots

Books In Under 60 Seconds: You get free wireless delivery of books in less than 60 seconds; no PC required

Long Battery Life: Read for days without recharging

Read-to-Me: With the text-to-speech feature, Kindle DX can read newspapers, magazines, blogs, and books out loud to you, unless the book’s rights holder made the feature unavailable

Big Selection, Low Prices: Over 275,000 books; New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases are only $9.99, unless marked otherwise

More Than Books: U.S. and international newspapers including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, magazines including The New Yorker and Time, plus popular blogs, all auto-delivered wirelessly