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Around the Kindlesphere, April 30, 2010: Top Teleread Picks, $9.99 New Release Hardcovers, Kindle’s 2.5 Upgrade, The Kindle Chronicles Scores B List Talent, and Cisco’s Valet Hotspot

A big thank you and shout out to estimable Teleread editor Paul K. Biba for including two of my posts among his nine choices in his weekly round-up, “The Editor’s pick of the week’s top posts.” All’s fair in love and the ebook wars: one of mine (Summing Up the Last Week for Amazon: Phases I, II, and III of the Kindle Revolution Are Over, and Amazon Has Won All Three) was from Kindle Nation Daily and the other (High Quality free audiobooks can be read on app for iPhone/iPad) was from iPad Nation Daily. Here’s a rundown of Paul’s other top choices:

What else is going on in the Kindlesphere? Plenty, and here are a few nuggets that may be of interest:

  • It would be silly of me not to acknowledge that most citizens of Kindle Nation, myself included, have grown to prefer reading books on our Kindles, as opposed to other formats. However, sometimes we just want to read the book in whatever way it is available to us, right? So it’s worth mentioning that, while we may lament the current unavailability of Kindle editions of many Penguin/Pearson titles due to the difficult ongoing negotiations between Amazon and the Big Six publisher over the agency price-fixing model, it’s refreshing to find that Amazon is now offering a number of recently released Penguin and Viking hardcovers, including a few bestsellers, at the

    same $9.99 price to which we have grown accustomed for their ebook editions in the Kindle Store. We won’t try to figure out Amazon’s strategy here or to psychologize about exactly how the authors or publisher in question feel about it all, but here are some of the titles we’ve found: The Black Cat: A Richard Jury Mystery by Martha Grimes, Lies of the Heart: A Novel by Michelle Boyajian, The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind by Barbara Strauch, Miss Julia Renews Her Vows by Ann B. Ross, The End of Wall Street by Roger Lowenstein, This is Just Exactly Like You by Drew Perry, The Line by Olga Grushin, Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott, and Stuart Woods’ novel Lucid Intervals Most of these titles have been released this month, and our assumption is that Amazon is paying the publisher $12 to $15, or half of suggested list price, for each copy. Most forthcoming Penguin titles for release during the next few months are discounted more modestly for pre-order, at about $17.

  • We’ll be drilling down in detail soon on some of the elements in Amazon’s recent upgrade, but we like it, from the “Collections” folders to the larger snappier fonts to the social networking features to another element that should make for improvements in the delivery of blogs like Kindle Nation Daily to our loyal Kindle edition subscribers. That being said, of course there are other things we would have loved to see included, include the audible menuing accessibility features promised by Amazon for “the first half of 2010,” an extension of the Twitter and Facebook features to include Amazon’s own reading-oriented Shelfari and some kind of Kindle Store credit for Kindle owners whose social sharing leads others to purchase Kindle content or, for that matter, Kindle hardware and accessories. Of course we’ve been calling for that since early in 2008, so I’m just saying…. But I’ll choose to hope that these things are in the pipeline rather than seeing the glass as half empty.
  • Not to get too relentlessly self-referential in my Around the Kindlesphere round-up here, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned Len Edgerly’s excellent The Kindle Chronicles podcast in a few weeks, and more often than not it makes for 40 minutes of interesting, informative, easy-on-the-ears enrichment. Will that be true of this week’s show with yours truly as the featured guest?

    To quote a pop song that rather dates me (leave Donny & Marie out of this, I’m thinking Dale & Grace covered here by the King), I’m leaving it all up to you.

  • Okay, we know Jeff Bezos has got our backs when it comes to free wireless connectivity for our Kindles, but if you are an early adopter with an increasing number of computers, gadgets, and devices taxing your home or home office internet connection, you may be interested in a new Cisco Systems product line that is getting a big roll-out on Amazon’s website this week: Introducing the Valet Hotspot: Home Wireless Made Easy. Products like the iPad, the Ipod Touch, and the Roku system that so many of us are getting to bring Amazon’s Video on Demand to our TV sets are bringing some of us to the point where we have more connected devices than matching socks, or Tony Soprano. (Sorry, couldn’t make a decision). The concomitant device compatibility issues can sometimes lead to wifi drops and other problems, but Cisco’s Valet Hotspot promises to clean up and streamline all of this for us:

With the Valet Hotspot, home wireless has never been easier. Valet gives you the power to quickly and simply make your home wireless. The included Easy Setup Key gets you connected to the Internet in just a few minutes. Simple-to-use Cisco Connect software is included and lets you quickly link your other wireless devices and manage your home wireless with ease. Remember when going wireless required technical expertise and hours of effort? Not anymore–the Valet Hotspot just works. (Click on the link for a multimedia presentation!)

Did Amazon Just Blink on eBook Pricing? "Ultimately … we will have to capitulate," says company

By Stephen Windwalker

As customers and members of Kindle Nation, we can’t pick Amazon’s battles. Amazon’s Kindle Team has posted this message on the Kindle community forums within the past hour, strongly suggesting that the company does not expect to have a strategy for fighting back if publishers insist on pricing ebooks at $12.99 to $14.99. We’ll see, and I hope you will share your opinion with Amazon directly on the forums and also in comment form below:

Dear Customers:

Macmillan, one of the “big six” publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

Thank you for being a customer.