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Now Available: Lending For Some Kindle Books

Amazon has kept its promise to make Kindle books available for lending before the end of 2010 — without 36 hours to spare!

The new enhancement has just been announced and, with many publishers blocking the feature, it is currently available for a limited number of titles. To find out if a title that you already own is available for lending, look it up under “Your Orders” on your Manage Your Kindle page and look for the “Loan this book” button at the bottom left, as shown in this screenshot.


Prior to purchasing a book, you can check to see if Lending is enabled under Product Details, where it will either say Lending: Enabled, or nothing at all on the subject.

Here’s Amazon’s presentation on the new lending feature, from the company’s website:

Lending Kindle Books

Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle — Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable — it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period.

Finding Lendable Books

Titles that are eligible for lending, as determined by the publisher or rights holder, will have a message on the product detail page. Scroll down to the “Product Details” section and look for “Lending: Enabled” as shown below:


For titles you already own, you can check the Your Orders section in Manage Your Kindle. Click the “+” symbol next to a title to reveal additional information about the title. If lending is enabled, you’ll see a Loan this book button next to the product image.

Loaning a Kindle Book

You can initiate a loan from Manage Your Kindle or the book’s product detail page on Amazon.com. You’ll enter the borrower’s name and e-mail address and an optional notification message. Your recipient can receive the book loan even if they do not yet have a Kindle or Kindle reading application.

From Manage Your Kindle:

Manage Your Kindle lists all of your Kindle content purchases under the Your Orders section.

1. Click the “+” symbol next to a title to reveal all information and options. If lending is enabled, you’ll see a Loan this book button next to the product image.

2. Click the Loan this book button.

3. You’ll be directed to a form where you’ll provide the borrower’s name, e-mail address and an optional message.

From the product detail page of a book you have already purchased:

When logged in to your Amazon account and looking at the product detail page of a book you have already purchased, a notification at the top of the page will indicate that you already own the title. If lending for the book is enabled, you’ll see a second notice: “Loan this book to anyone you choose.”

1. Click the Loan this book link.

2. You’ll be directed to a form where you’ll provide the borrower’s name, e-mail address and an optional message (as shown above).

Your loan recipient will be notified of the loan through the e-mail address you provide. The borrower has seven days to accept the loan.

If the loan is not accepted after seven days, the book will become available again through your Archived Items. You can also attempt to loan the book again at that time.

If the borrower already owns the title, or the title is not available in the borrower’s country due to copyright restrictions, the borrower will not be able to accept the loan. In these cases the lender will be able to read and loan the book again after the seven day period has ended.

Receiving a Kindle Book Loan

If someone has loaned you a Kindle book, you will receive an e-mail notification allowing you to download the book to your Kindle device or free Kindle reading application. After accepting the loan, you’ll have 14 days to enjoy the book until the download ends.

To download a Kindle book loan:

1. Open the e-mail message you received about your book loan and click the Get your loaned book now button. Your web browser will launch and automatically direct you to Amazon.com to accept the loan.

2. Log into your Amazon.com account if prompted, or create one if you are not yet an Amazon.com customer. You may also be prompted to enter a billing address to verify your location only (there is no charge associated with accepting a Kindle book loan.)

3. If you are already a Kindle user, just select the device that you would like the book delivered to from the drop-down menu and click the Accept button.

4. If you do not yet have a Kindle or Kindle reading application, click the Accept button and you will be taken through the steps to download a free reading application. After downloading a reading application you will need to return to the e-mail message and accept the loan.

Tip: You have seven days from when you first received your e-mail about the book load to accept the loan. Once you accept, you have 14 days before the loan expires.

Frequently Asked Questions

As the lender, can I read the book while it is out on loan?

Once you initiate a Kindle book loan, you will not be able to read the book until the loan period has ended, after which your access will automatically be restored.

Once your notification has been sent, a reminder message will appear on the Home screen of your Kindle or Kindle reading app, indicating that the book is on loan and cannot be read until the loan has ended.

During the loan period the book will still remain visible in your Archived Items folder, but you will be unable to redownload the title.

Will I be notified before the book loan expires?

Yes. Three days before the end of the 14-day loan period we will send borrowers a courtesy reminder e-mail about the loan expiration. Once the loan period has ended, an e-mail notification will be sent to both the book lender and borrower. The lender can then access the book again through their Archived Items and Manage Your Kindle.

The borrower will receive a notice on the Home screen of their device indicating that the loan has ended.  The borrower will still be able to view the title from their Archived Items folder as well, but selecting the title will bring up a reminder that the loan has ended and provide a link to purchase the item.

If the recipient is finished with the loaned book and wishes to return it, they can do so from the Your Orders section of Manage Your Kindle. Here’s how:

1. Click the “+” symbol next to the loaned title.

2. Click the Delete this Title button.

3. Click Yes in the pop-over window to confirm the return.

After initiating a return the reading rights will be restored to the owner of the book. The owner will also receive an e-mail confirmation of the return.

How do I view the status of my loan?

You can view the status of a Kindle book loan from the Manage Your Kindle page. Click on the “+” symbol next to any title to view more details about any book that you’ve loaned or borrowed.

If you’ve loaned out the book, you’ll see the loan date listed, as well as whether the loan is pending, the expiration date of an accepted loan, or the returned date.

Borrowers will be able to see how much longer a loan is available, or if it has ended.

Is lending available internationally?

At this time, Kindle book lending can only be initiated by customers residing in the United States. If a loan is initiated to a customer outside the United States, the borrower may not be able to accept the loan if the title is not available in their country due to publisher geographical rights.

In these cases the borrower will be notified of this during the Loan redemption process, and the book reading and lending rights will return to the lender at the end of seven days from loan initiation. You can always check the status of a loan by viewing the book on the Manage Your Kindle page.

Just in time for the holidays: KINDLE FREE FOR ALL! The Most Complete Resource Yet for Getting Free Content for Your Kindle

I may have mentioned once or twice at Kindle Nation that I’ve been working hard lately, behind the scenes, on a valuable new resource for Kindle Nation citizens. This morning I’m pleased to announce the Kindle Exclusive publication of my new book, KINDLE FREE FOR ALL: How to Get Millions of Free Kindle Books and Other Free Content With or Without an Amazon Kindle (For Use with the Latest Generation of Kindles and Kindle Apps). For a limited time through the holiday season it will be available only in the Kindle Store for just 99 cents.

Thanks to some great help from talented editor and author April Hamilton, we have worked hard to hit the sweet spot in making this book the most complete and easy-to-use resource yet for finding all kinds of free content for your Kindle and other Kindle-compatible devices, with useful information on millions of free ebooks, free audio books, and free periodical, blog, and research content for Kindle. Here’s the Table of Contents:

* Ch 1: How Can This Be? Amazon May Be Making Billions, But Kindle is the Key to “Free”
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: Best Resources for Kindle Owners
* Ch 2: Use Kindle Nation Daily’s Free Book Alerts
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: No Kindle Required! How to Download and Use Free Kindle Apps for the PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Android and, Soon, the Windows Phone 7 and Other Devices
* Ch 3: Find and Download Thousands of Free Books Directly From the Kindle Store
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: Using Wi-Fi, 3G, or a USB Cable to Connect Your Kindle
* Ch 4: Find and Download Free Books From Kindle-Compatible Free Book Collections
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: Easily Find Free Kindle Store Classics Arranged by Author and Title
* Ch 5: Find and Download Free Book Samples and Free 14-Day Periodical Trials From the Kindle Store
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: Free for You: How to Ask for and Use a Kindle Gift Certificate
* Ch 6: Use Calibre to Manage Your Kindle’s Free Books and Other Kindle Content
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: Email eBooks, Memoranda, Scripts, Manuscripts, Directions, Recipes, Legal Briefs and Other Personal Documents to Your Kindle
* Ch 7: Read Blogs, Periodicals, and Other Web Content for Free on the Kindle
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: Use eReadUps to Collect Research on Your Kindle or Build Your Own eBooks from Web Sources
* Ch 8: Why Your Kindle’s Free Wireless Web Browser is a Revolutionary Feature, and May Be the Key to What’s Next from Amazon
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: Use Your Kindle to Check Your eMail
* Ch 9: Unlock the World Of Free Audio on the Kindle
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: How to Contact Kindle Nation
* Ch 10: Ten Reasons the New Kindle 3 or Kindle Wi-Fi Is a Must if You Love to Read … And a Few Minor Drawbacks
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: Kindle Periodicals and Your Battery
* Ch 11: The Politics of “Free” Books In the Age of the Kindle
* Between the Chapters, and Just Between Us: The Future of Free in the Kindle Store
* Ch 12: The Myth of the Kindle’s “Standard” $9.99 Price, the Agency Model, and the ABCs of Kindle Store Pricing


Kindle Owners Can Begin Reading Newspapers & Magazines On Android; Some Glitches In Early Hours of Upgraded Kindle for Android App Remain

Don’t miss our Daily Free Book Alert, Friday, December 17: A Jane Austen bonanza, an East End Murder, Fame, and YA wish fulfillment, plus … a YA novel of love and loss until an unexpected kiss, a nearly disastrous airplane landing, and the lingering spirit of a lovesick boy help open Brazil’s eyes to a world outside of her own universe: Safe Landing by Tess Oliver (Today’s Sponsor)

By Tom Dulaney, Contributing Reporter

Amazon.com announced today that it is freeing newspapers and magazines from their Kindle-device-only confines with the release of an upgrade of the Kindle for Android app.  It’s the first of a number of upgrades on the way for most or all of the free Kindle-for-device apps. 

Amazon’s upgraded Kindle for Android app is not yet free of glitches in these opening moments of its release, we have discovered in field tests. 

The app has already downloaded to users who had the earlier version on their Androids.  New users can get the upgraded app in the Android marketplace shown on their devices.

The iPad app is still waiting in the wings, along with apps for the iPhone and Blackberry.

We rushed to an Android phone and a computer to see the upgrade in action. As of 10:20 a.m. Eastern time, we found some minor kinks. These will undoubtedly be ironed out in coming days—if not coming hours or even minutes.

For now, a much improved shopping screen lets users browse and buy new periodical subscriptions directly from their Androids. The well-organized screens allow for direct-from-phone purchase of over 750,000 Kindle ebooks as well.

One snag still to be ironed out: On the computer, you cannot yet subscribe to a new periodical and have Amazon send it to your Android. 

Another snag:  You cannot, at the moment we stress, go to the “Manage Your Kindle” page on your computer and have current periodical subscriptions appear on your Android.  Sending “copies” of ebooks to other devices, using the Manage page, is still a snap, so doing the same with periodicals should be just as easy when the roll-out is done.

From the smartphone, we took a trial subscription to the San Francisco Chronicle, which usually offers lots of color and photos. We also chose an color-image-rich magazine called Raw Vision and Reader’s Digest to field test the new app.

We’re anxious to see how the color images present in the apps. Until today, all Kindle Store publications could be seen only in black and white on the Kindle device.

So far, all three purchases are still in the process of appearing on our smartphone. That may be an issue of local connectivity, or may be a sign that Amazon’s computers are still in the roll-out phase of things.

In any case, this release of apps for periodicals is a major event. Until today, the black and white Kindle has been at a disadvantage in the multi-billion-dollar periodical market versus color devices like the iPad, the Galaxy and the Nook.
The full text of Amazon’s press release:

Dec. 17–Amazon today announced that Kindle for Android is the first Kindle app to receive an update that enables users to buy, read, and sync over 100 Kindle newspapers and magazines, including The New York TimesNewsweekThe Atlantic, and many more.

Kindle for Android users can now buy a single issue or subscribe to the most popular newspapers and magazines, have them automatically delivered to their Android-powered device, and enjoy a full color reading experience optimized for the touch interface of Android-powered devices.
Additional new features include the ability to seamlessly buy and download Kindle books and periodicals within the Kindle for Android app, share reading progress via social networks, and zoom closer to images and other graphics.

Kindle for Android is the first major e-book app to offer periodicals on the Android platform. The new Kindle for Android app is available from Android Market. 

Customers who have already downloaded Kindle for Android will receive the update automatically. Learn more about Kindle for Android at www.amazon.com/kindleforandroid.

“We want to give customers the freedom and flexibility to buy their newspapers and magazines once, and read them everywhere across the devices and platforms they chose–just like they do with Kindle books today,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “Kindle for Android is our fastest-growing application, and we’re excited to launch over 100 newspapers and magazines for our Android customers.”

Other updates to the Kindle for Android app include the addition of an in-app store optimized for the Android interface, which enables customers to discover, buy, and download over 750,000 Kindle books without leaving the app, as well as social network integration, which allows customers to share their progress in a book using Google’s built-in Share functionality.

For over two years, Amazon has been building and introducing a wide selection of free Buy Once, Read Everywhere Kindle apps for iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, Mac, PC, BlackBerry and Android-based devices that let customers read and sync their reading library, bookmarks, notes, and highlights with the device or platform of their choice. Learn more about Kindle apps at www.amazon.com/kindleapps.

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

Ten Reasons the New Kindle 3 or Kindle Wi-Fi is a Must if You Love to Read … And a Few Minor Drawbacks

By Stephen Windwalker

Back on July 28, after testing the new Kindle 3 with 3G and Wi-Fi for half an hour, I gave the newest Amazon device a pretty strong “Wow.” I’ve been using Kindles now for 32 months and have been through every model and every Kindle App but one, but it was clear to me almost immediately that Amazon had done some wonderful things with the new release, all while maintaining its new $189 price point. (More about that price point later, of course, but the initial thing to say about the $189 price point is that, while it may not be quite the equivalent of an impulse buy for electronics, it is 53 percent lower than the price that thousands of us paid for a much more basic Kindle 1 back in 2007 and 2008.) 

Now that I have been using a Kindle 3 nearly non-stop for the past five days thanks to my receipt of a “review” Kindle from Amazon last Wednesday, I am prepared to be much more articulate about it.

This Kindle 3 is a Triple Wow. Five Stars. Two Thumbs Up. And, because Amazon stays true to its core vision of catalog, convenience and connectivity for the Kindle, it is by far the best ebook reader ever made. For now, and probably for the rest of 2010, at the least.

Naturally, as with any other kind of technology, there will be serious people who want no part of it.

Some will hate it because it is “only” an ebook reader. It does astonishingly well with audio in several useful and attractive ways, but it does not support video or animation or sophisticated gaming and its lack of color will rule it out for some textbooks, art books, comic books, manga and other illustrated or design-intensive books.

Some will hate it because it doesn’t have a touch screen. I use an iPad or iPod Touch frequently enough so that my muscle memory sometimes gets ahead of me and I find myself tapping my Kindle screen. And I doubt I will ever get used to any of the Kindle keyboards, so there are times when I would love to be able to add annotations to my Kindle content with a stylus. And speaking of input, I just don’t understand why the keyboard can’t have a number row — there’s room for it! But these are minor complaints. When it comes to actual reading of a novel or any text-intensive book, article, newspaper, magazine, or blog, the Kindle 3 provides an exquisite experience.

Some will miss the configuration of buttons and bars on earlier Kindles, as the new Kindle 3 places the Menu, Home, and Back buttons adjacent to the keyboards and transforms the 5-way into something more trackpad-like, but for most of us all of this will be old hat within a week.

Some will want to avoid doing anything to hasten the inevitable transition in publishing technologies, but their fingers in the dike of change will be seriously overmatched as the number of devices being used as ebook readers soars past 10 million in 2010, 20 million in 2011 and 60 million by 2015.

Some will want to stay with print books and their favorite brick-and-mortar bookstores, but unfortunately over the course of the next five years the availability of these pleasures will decline dramatically, and by the end of the decade there will be far fewer print books manufactured and even fewer places to buy them.

Some will be impatient, as I am, for Amazon to put on some speed with respect to the kind of true internationalization for the entire Kindle platform that would be signified with more alphabets (whether or not they are supported for the Kindle 3 has been handled somewhat mysteriously), more in-country stores, translation dictionaries, and a much wider selection in languages other than English, but the Kindle 3 may indeed be the hardware device that opens the doors to all of this and there have been plentiful rumors lately of Kindle launches in China and elsewhere.

Some will continue their call for Amazon to open up the Kindle to one or more of the variations on the highly balkanized ePub format or to library ebooks or other “open” formats, but adherents of such moves have demonstrated little support among Kindle owners and do not seem to understand Amazon’s need to conduct itself as a business.

Some will be content to stick with devices they own already, including the Kindle 1 and Kindle 2 as well as other ebook readers, but even before the first Kindle 3 order has been filled, our most recent Kindle Nation survey suggests strongly that nearly one-fourth of existing Kindle owners plan to upgrade to a Kindle 3 or Kindle 3 Wi-Fi Only before the end of 2010.

So, in enumerating the top ten reasons why the Kindle 3 is a “must-have” reading device for me, for you, and for millions of other people who love to read, let’s start there:

10. At $139 and $189, the Kindle 3 is the Best Value Proposition Ever for an eBook Reader

There aren’t as many readers as there are people who talk on the phone or drive cars, so there may never be as many Kindles as there are cell phones or automobiles, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be ubiquitous in the circles in which you travel. The combined force of the Kindle 3’s $139 and $189 price points and the superior reading experience that it provides is that most of the people you know will own a Kindle within two years, and most of the people you consider smart will own a Kindle this year. And the fact that Amazon is selling a unit that is identical in every respect except 3G wi-fi connectivity for just $139, means that most of those smart people will be buying multiple wi-fi only Kindle 3s for their children, grandchildren and others on their gift lists this holiday season. The hardest work I’ll be doing in organizing my 2010 holiday list is trying to figure out who might already be getting a Kindle 3 from someone else, and which people spend so much time in wi-fi settings that they might not need the 3G model.

The other hard part — and this may require the services of a certified swami — will involve figuring out when I need to place my orders to ensure that Amazon will be able to deliver my gift Kindles in time for the holidays. Although Amazon cemented the Kindle’s current dominant position among ebook readers by never running out of Kindles during the 2009 holiday season, that stands in stark contrast to the company’s grinchy experience during the 2007 and 2008 holiday seasons, when there were no Kindles to ship in either year. Pre-order delivery dates for both Kindle 3 models have been getting pushed back throughout the entire month of August, and the most worrisome indication is that the length of the shipping delay noted on the Kindle buying pages has been lengthening. This obviously indicates very high demand (unless, call me a cynic for raising the issue, it is all a marketing gimmick?), and it may also inspire resellers to place bulk orders in order to take advantage of impatience premiums, high demand, and arbitrage profits on third-party seller sites including eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon’s own Marketplace. If an authorized retailer like Target quickly runs out of Kindle 3 units when it receives its first supply in September, it will be a clear sign that we may see stock-out situations on and off through the end of 2010.

Of course, if prices of $189 and $139 alone were sufficient reason for people to buy a Kindle, the Kindle’s share of the market might be split more democratically with devices like the Nook and Sony’s various offerings. But that’s not what’s happening. Amazon has hit the sweet spot by offering all of the other benefits that fill out this top ten list at these prices, and as a result the Kindle’s current installed base of about 4.5 million Kindles will swell to well over 7 million by the end of this year. In addition to the million Kindle 3s that Amazon will sell to current Kindle owners and over a million Kindle 3s that will become their new owners’ first ebook readers, there will be at least half a million Kindle 3s sold this year to people who started out reading Kindle content on other devices like the iPad, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Android, Mac or PC. Every other device with a freely downloadable Kindle App, and every ebook added to the relentlessly growing Kindle catalog, becomes a kind of Trojan Horse that will lead to more content sales and ultimately to more hardware and accessory sales for Amazon in the future.

These days, when anyone who enjoys reading tells me he doesn’t want a Kindle, my answer is simple: “That’s only because you haven’t tried one.” But if Amazon can do a better job of keeping the Kindle 3 in stock, the company has a friction-free solution to that problem in its free “test drive” policy for Kindles and other products: you can buy any Kindle and use it for up to 30 days, then return it for a full refund with no questions asked. My guess is that there will be very few Kindle 3 returns.

Now that Amazon has released a remarkably full-featured Kindle Wifi model for just $139, the $50 price differential between that model and the $189 Kindle 3G places an elegant value-proposition accent on the Kindle’s wireless connectivity. If you think that either of these Kindles is worth $139 as an ereader, that just leaves this question: Would you pay $50 one time, with no monthly fees or AT+T contracts, for wireless connectivity that would allow you to check email, scores, stocks, weather and any text-intensive website from just about anywhere for the rest of your life? I’ve exaggerated the proposition here, because there’s a good chance you will outlive your Kindle, but you get the idea.

By the way, if you frequently send personal documents and free ebooks from other sources to your Kindle, the availability of wi-fi on both Kindle 3 models will save you money on those pesky wireless transfer charges. And if those personal documents come in the form of PDFs, the Kindle 3 PDF reading experience is the best yet for a Kindle, with support for password protection, highlighting and annotations, and multiple contrast settings. 

9. An Enhanced “Webkit” Web Browser Makes the Kindle’s Free Wireless Internet Connectivity Better Than Ever

One of the things that impressed me about the Kindle from the first days of the Kindle 1 was the fact that it came with free “lifetime” wireless web connectivity with no contract, no monthly fees, and — did we say it was free? — no cost ever. Of course that was great for accessing the Kindle Store and downloading books in less than 60 seconds, but it also meant that no matter where I was — with very few out-of-range exceptions — I could check my email or the Red Sox score or any text-intensive web page. The drawback, of course, was that the browser was pretty clunky and web pages usually took forever to load.

Many of us wondered back in 2007 and 2008 if Amazon would eventually abandon or begin charging for the web access. Instead, the Kindle 3 makes it clear that the free wireless internet connectivity is here to stay and makes it more valuable than ever by adding a new web browser based on WebKit, the open-sourced Web browser engine that is also the basis for … are you ready for this? … Apple’s Safari web browser. Don’t get me wrong: pages are still a little slow to load, like benign but occasionally annoying intruders from the age of dial-up, but the combination of the new browser and the much-improved Kindle 3 display provide a faster, more useful, vastly improved but still absolutely free web browser that serves up complex web pages far better than the browser on earlier Kindles.

The new browser also includes a new Article Mode feature that simplifies most web pages to text-based content reading by omitting the usual sidebar stuff and other extraneous material. Article Mode’s purpose is similar in one respect to that of Instapaper, but Instapaper’s superb usefulness for adding articles on the fly to a tidy daily digest that renders beautifully on any Kindle remains unmatched in my view.

The $189 Kindle 3 provides for an automatic toggle between 3G wireless and wi-fi connectivity that makes use of the best, fastest network available once you’ve synched it up with your home, office, or local coffee shop’s wi-fi interface. The web browser and all other wireless functionality were especially fast when using my home wi-fi connection.

Parenthetically, one thing I like about the new web browser is that it makes it easy to go to various pages on Amazon’s website and place an order, change a setting on my Manage Your Kindle page, or read content there, so that Amazon is finally beginning to deliver on the promise that the Kindle holds as a portal to direct Amazon ordering. For Kindle Nation Daily readers, this will make it easier than ever to get the most out of a Kindle subcription to this blog by clicking, for example, on a title in our daily Free Book Alert and placing an order seamlessly on the Amazon website right from your Kindle. I placed such orders twice this weekend while connected via my home wi-fi and in both cases the ebook was downloaded to my Kindle Home screen 4 seconds after I clicked the “Buy” button.

8. Text-to-Speech and Voice Guide

Whether you are visually impaired or just someone, like me, who likes to listen to some kinds of Kindle content at the gym, in the car, or while falling asleep, the Kindle’s audio accessibility features keep getting more and more useful. The text-to-speech voices are a little less robotic than they were at launch in February 2009, and their command of vocabulary and proper nouns has improved significantly, even allowing for the occasional amusing mispronunciation and their annoying habit of reading certain fairly common words as state name abbreviations, especially when they come at the end of a sentence: “even in the crowd, she was hard to Mississippi.” Kindle text-to-speech may not be a great way to listen to Shakespeare, but for newspaper, magazine, and blog articles and some nonfiction it can be a terrific way to expand one’s reading time and reach, and with over half a million text-to-speech enabled Kindle books, that has to be true ten times over for many visually impaired readers.

The Kindle remains the only ebook reader with text-to-speech, and now the value of text-to-speech has been augmented with new voice-guided text-to-speech enabled menus that allow us to navigate on the Kindle without having to read menu options or content listings and item descriptions on the home screen. The new Voice Guide audible menuing feature handles all of that with spoken menus, selectable items, and descriptions. For example, when you open a book, Kindle speaks your current location and how far you’ve read. Voice Guide can be turned on or off in a snap by pressing the Menu button from the Home screen, using the 5-way to underline and select “Settings,” pressing Next Page to go to Page 2 of Settings, and using the 5-way to underline and select “turn on” or “turn off” next to the “Voice Guide” setting. Once Voice Guide is set, it can be left on indefinitely, and the result is a far more accessible ebook reader that has won the endorsement of the National Federation of the Blind. However, Amazon could make this combination of accessibility features far more useful by simplifying the text-to-speech command process once the Voice Guide feature is turned on.

7. The Kindle 3 is a Direct-Download Media Player for Audible.com Audiobooks, and Perhaps for Other Audio Content in the Future

Now that Amazon has perfected the Kindle as a delivery device for its growing ebook catalog, it is branching out. With the Kindle 3, according to the new Kindle 3 User’s Guide, you will be able purchase, transfer, and play Audible.com audiobooks from Amazon and have them delivered wirelessly to your Kindle via any Wi-Fi connection, without having to go through the hassle of connecting to a computer via USB. The new Kindle 3 User’s Guide says that these Audible listings will be available right in the Kindle Store, and it is fair to assume that this availability will be rolled out at some point between now and the Kindle 3 ship date.

Audible.com audiobooks have played nicely with the Kindle in the past, but in the past you have always had to download them first to your computer and then transfer them to your Kindle via USB cable. Now that Amazon is using wi-fi connectivity to make the Kindle 3 a seamless delivery device for its Audible.com subsidiary, it may be just a matter of time before Amazon adds similar purchase, download, and playback functionality for its vast catalog of MP3 music and other audio files. In that connection, let me say that I played Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire,” one of my 12-year-old son Danny’s favorite songs (he has has the PG-13 version on his iPod Touch), side by side on the Kindle 3 and the iPad this week and found no easily discernible difference in audio quality.

I asked an Amazon spokesperson what I could expect in terms of launch announcements and related developments for the new Kindle 3 Audible.com functionality, and she answered with the first two words Amazon teaches to its future PR staffers at when they are hatched: “Stay tuned.” And that, I am sure, is also the answer I would have received if I had asked any Amazon plans to open up its music store to direct Kindle downloads or to add Kindle 3 features that would make use of the mysterious microphone that sits unused on the bottom edge of the new Kindle.

6. The Kindle 3 is the Greatest Travel Companion Ever

Amazon has doubled the storage capacity of the Kindle 3 so that at 4 GB it holds up to 3,500 ebooks, with unlimited additional room for your archived purchases in Amazon’s cloud, so every serious reader’s travel baggage just got lighter. You can read the Kindle anywhere, of course. The lighted Kindle cover will keep you from ever having to reach up again for one of those terrible airline lights on a night flight, and of course you know that you can read it on the beach and when you finish one great beach novel you can look up the sequel, download it,  and begin reading it within 60 seconds without leaving the beach. Please don’t tell Betty I said this, but those features alone might make the Kindle 3 the greatest travel companion ever.

But of course that’s not all. With the Kindle 3’s improved web functionality, it can also help you decide where to go for dinner, show you what’s playing at local theaters, or let you check your email. All without monthly charges, contracts, or roaming fees, from just about anywhere.

The combination of global 3G and wi-fi will be especially valuable to travelers who will be able to add and update Kindle content and even check web pages on the road without the need for a USB connection to a computer or, in over 100 countries, those pesky international wireless charges. For international customers, Amazon has been adding free web browsing gradually on a country-by-country basis around the world, so that these Kindle 3 features are likely to become a greater and greater selling point worldwide.

5. The Lighted Leather Kindle Cover is the Best eBook Reader Accessory Ever, Even at $59.99

One of the coolest things I experienced in my test drive of the new Kindle 3 is something that, admittedly, does not come standard in the Kindle box. The new Kindle Lighted Leather Cover combines some very forward technologies with great Moleskine-like style in a choice of seven colors. There’s even an elastic strap to keep the cover firmly closed (or conveniently opened and folded back). The price is $59.99, but you will effectively be buying two Kindle accessories in one, and you’ll never need batteries. All seven covers include an integrated retractable LED reading light that hides away into the cover when not in use. It lights the entire Kindle display without glare and draws its power directly from the Kindle’s battery through the new gold-plated conductive hinges that connect the Kindle to the cover. Between this lighted cover and the new quieter* page turns, reading may be moving dramatically, even ominously, up the list of the most fun things you can do in bed.

The new lighted cover works with both new Kindle 3 models, the Kindle 3G and the Kindle Wi-Fi, but please don’t order it as a Kindle 1 or Kindle 2 accessory, because it doesn’t fit those larger earlier models. Here are the color choices, and you can see thumbnail-sized swatches of all but the hot pink below:

Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Black (Fits 6″ Display, Latest Generation Kindle)
Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Chocolate Brown (Fits 6″ Display, Latest Generation Kindle)
Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Burnt Orange (Fits 6″ Display, Latest Generation Kindle)
Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Apple Green (Fits 6″ Display, Latest Generation Kindle)
Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Burgundy Red (Fits 6″ Display, Latest Generation Kindle)
Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Steel Blue (Fits 6″ Display, Latest Generation Kindle)
Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Hot Pink (Fits 6″ Display, Latest Generation Kindle)

If you have no use for the reading light, you can get essentially the same cover without the retractable light for $25 less, in the same array of colors.

*The Kindle 3’s Next Page and Previous Page bars are much narrower and a little less noisy with less of a bounce-back click than the wider buttons on the Kindle 2. They take a little getting used to if you are trying to find the quietest way of tapping them so as not to wake or annoy your partner while reading in bed, but once you get the hang of it they are definitely quieter.

4. WhisperSynch Interoperability and Free Kindle App Downloads Mean Never Having to Be Without Your Reading

With respect to reading, my Kindle is the mother ship. This has been true with every Kindle I have owned, but the Kindle 3 reading experience is so terrific that I would seldom choose to read on another device. Nevertheless, there are plenty of people using the “No Kindle Required” approach with freely downloadable Kindle apps for other devices and there are even times when for one reason or another I am without my Kindle when I want to read a few pages of a Kindle book. For all of us, Amazon makes this a shockingly easy, friction-free experience. It doesn’t take a bit of work. How great a feature is this capacity to move seamlessly from one Kindle-compatible device to another?

Well, for comparison’s sake, can we discuss iTunes for a moment? Members of my immediate household own 1 iPad and 3 iPod Touch units. Each of them is connected to the same Apple iTunes account. We’ve paid the iTunes Store for hundreds of songs, perhaps thousands. We’ve spent hours saving other digital files from CDs we had purchased over the past couple of decades, strictly for our own personal use, and there are no pirated songs or files on any of our various devices and hard drives.

So why is it that my son and I can’t access each other’s iTunes songs, all paid for with the same account? And why, whenever we’re getting ready for a road trip where we might have an opportunity to listen to some music, does the preparation always seem to include a rather nudgy and painstaking process of getting the right stuff to synch up on the right devices without overwhelming storage space with free sample episodes of Friday Night Lights that I apparently made the mistake of downloading to my iTunes account in some earlier decade? And why does Apple insist on prompting me to download a new iTunes software update about every third time I log onto iTunes? And why, if I say yes, does the process slow down my 2009 iMac to a near crawl for the next 20 minutes?

Can’t this stuff be done in the background? Has Apple not heard of the cloud? My point here, of course, is not to complain about Apple so much as it is to say that, for the Kindle platform and the various Kindle apps, Amazon has nailed this stuff. And it is important, whether it comes up ten times a week or once a year.

3. The Best eBook Catalog Ever, Until Tomorrow, When It Will Be Better Still

You may prefer to read ebooks on some other device, but if you are interested in a wide selection at the best available prices, most of the ebooks you are likely to be reading are going to come from the Kindle Store. Although various retailers have tried to play a numbers game and puff up their catalog statistics with duplicative public domain fluff, no other ebook store comes close to the Kindle Store’s selection of over 650,000 commercially available ebooks, 136 newspapers, 68 magazines and journals, and nearly 10,000 blogs. Amazon and various third parties also make it a snap to find and download over a million other free books.

Amazon has made it very easy to buy, download, and read all of those ebooks on other devices owned by millions of people, and the company says that about 20 percent of the ebooks sold in the Kindle Store are downloaded to those other devices. But the vast majority of those who have compared reading on the Kindle with reading on an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, PC, or Mac prefer the Kindle as the superior reading experience. Those stated preferences, of course, have been based on comparisons involving earlier Kindle models. My own view of the difference between the Kindle 3 and the Kindle 2 is that the Kindle 3 provides at least twice as good an overall experience, for the same or a significantly lower price than what owners paid for the Kindle 2. Case closed.

2. With Better Contrast in a Smaller, Lighter, Faster Kindle with Improved Battery Life, Amazon Continues to Demonstrate its Commitment to Progressive Improvement, Enhancement, and Efficiency of the Kindle

The most dramatic of these incremental changes, for me, involves the same Pearl e-ink technology found in the relatively new Kindle DX Graphite unit, providing the basis for Amazon’s claims of 50 percent better contrast due to lighter background and a choice of three darker, clearer, sharper fonts. Frankly, after reading for a while with the Kindle 3 (or, for that matter, the Kindle DX Graphite unit) and then going back to my Kindle 2, I was surprised that I hadn’t complained much about poor contrast on the Kindle 2.

Although the Kindle 3 provides the same size display, at 6 inches, as the Kindle 2, it is housed in hardware that is significantly smaller in all three dimensions, so that the mass of the Kindle 3 is 21 percent smaller and, at just 8.7 ounces, 15 percent lighter than the Kindle 2, and the WiFi-only unit measures out the same but is a little lighter still. You also get, in either unit:

  • a 20 percent faster screen refresh or page-turn speed;
  • a choice of two case colors, the classic white or the new contrast-enhancing graphite case that I’ve found very attractive with the new Kindle DX;
  • more than double the storage space from the 1,500 books accomodated by the Kindle 2 to a 3,500-book capacity that equals that of the Kindle DX; and
  • The longest battery life between charges yet for a Kindle or any other ereader, according to Amazon: one month with the wireless turned off, and 10 days with the wireless turned on.  (The time between charges can be lengthened if you use wi-fi most of the time, or shortened by factors as use of the Kindle’s audio features.)

Although the Kindle 3 display is no larger than that on the Kindle 1 or Kindle 2, the display is used more efficiently so that one sees more text on each page.

1. The Kindle 3 is the Least Expensive and Most User-Friendly Way Ever to Build a Permanent Library

If you love to read, you’ve got to have a Kindle 3. Libraries and gifts and used books notwithstanding, most adults who love to read have become accustomed to spending over $20 a month on books, some of us much more. Whether or not the Kindle 3 actually saves you back the $189 or $139 that you pay for it will depend on your individual book buying behavior, but chances are good that you will read more, spend less, and enjoy your reading more with a Kindle 3. That’s my experience and judgment, and it has been the experience already of thousands of Kindle 1, Kindle 2, and Kindle DX owners with those devices. With the Kindle 3, that experience is going to be even better.

A few little known details about the Kindle

* CPU: The Kindle’s “brain” is an Intel PXA255 processor, originally designed for mobile phones and smart phones.

* e-Ink Display: There’s a reason why the Kindle doesn’t do color. Its e-Ink display involves millions of microcapsules that act as pixels that provide a sharp but easy-on-the-eyes black, white and gray display on the Kindle’s 600×800-pixel screen. These microcapsules are driven by a layer of transparent electrodes that consume far less power than LCD displays. I think it ranks fairly high in the small world department that e-Ink, the company responsible for this green and literally cool technology, is right across the street from my 9-year-old’s elementary school in Cambridge.

* Operating System: Your Kindle’s operating system is a modified Linux 2.6.10 kernel. Amazon has complied with Linux licensing by making its modified source code freely available. Among the modifications is support for XIP (execute in place), a feature that promotes more efficient, faster use of the system’s memory.

* Memory: Your Kindle is equipped 256 MB internal flash memory. About two-thirds of this memory is available for storing your documents, music, bookmarks, photographs, notes, and anything else you choose to store on your Kindle. The easiest way to see how this memory is being used is to open the “Kindle drive” while it is connected via USB to your desktop or notebook computer. You can greatly multiply the storage that your Kindle can access by adding an SD memory card.

* Battery: You can get the most out of your Kindle’s replaceable lithium-­polymer battery — as much as one week on a single charge — if you keep the wireless connectivity is switched off whenever you aren’t using that feature. But it is not a bad idea to order a replacement battery just so you have one handy in the event of a malfunction.

* Connectivity: The service that Amazon calls Whispernet is actually a 3G EVDO wireless broadband service through an AnyDate modem that enables the Kindle to connect to Sprint’s United States wireless data network. This service is available in most densely populated areas, but not everywhere. For more information about this service, and a discussion of the economic issues involved in providing it free or at a price, read The Amazon Kindle Basic Web Wireless Service: Why It Is a Revolutionary Feature, and Why Amazon Should Keep It Free or Cheap. The Kindle also comes with a USB cable for easy connection to your desktop or laptop computer.

Beyond all these rather dry “what’s under the hood” details, the really stunning details about the Kindle, of course, involve the various ways in which it simply blows away any notion that it is just an e-book reader. Tech writer/blogger Mike Elgan did an elegant job of breaking down some of these features early on in an article entitled Why Amazon’s Kindle is revolutionary on the ComputerWorld website. It is well worth reading. Mike also has a blog called The Book of Kindle.

200 books on your Kindle, or 7,500?

It’s up to you.

But if you’d like the luxury of scarcely ever having to think about the space limitations of your Kindle, perhaps you should consider this sweet little package: