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

(Weekly blog post at TeleRead.com)

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

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

Read more….

Kindling the Googlezon Future

1.5 million books in your pocket

Most people on the outside of Google, Apple, and Amazon see them as competitors, and of course they are. But their status as partners — constantly connecting the dots of hardware, content, and network to maximize usefulness as well as revenue — is far more important, and it is at that nexus that future revolutions in reading and knowledge and publishing will be ignited, or kindled.

ET, Phone the Kindle Store

Yesterday Amazon let slip news that — for authors, publishers, and people who like to read on their cellphones — may potentially be every bit as big as anything the company will announce about the Kindle 2, 3, or 4 on February 9.

As suggested in my book last summer and in this January 30 post here and at my Amazon-hosted blog, the Kindle Store will soon begin selling its content to owners of devices such as the Blackberry, the iPhone, and the iPod Touch:

Amazon said that it was working on making the titles for its popular e-book reader, the Kindle, available on a variety of mobile phones.

So, do we still call a device a potential “Kindle Killer” if millions of its owners can use it to buy books, newspapers, and magazines from the Kindle Store, with Amazon getting a 25 to 35 per cent cut? No, Amazon’s Kindle initiative has much less to do with any specific hardware device than with Amazon’s need — and apparent ability — to stay ahead of changing modalities in book and other content sales.

As I have written before: “the primary importance of the Kindle for Amazon lies in four things: it jumpstarts significant electronic book sales; it positions the books in the Kindle store as the primary source of e-reader content; it sets the bar higher than it had previously been set for form factor, feature set, and delivery mode for electronic books; and it gives Amazon a seat at the head of the table in shaping this area of book commerce going forward.” That seat just got placed on risers.

For all the snarky Applephiles and Amazonians who have mistakenly seen this as an either/or battle from the get-go, a word to the wise: we can all just get along. Meanwhile, every ereading device and ebook portal including the Kindle and the Kindle Store will, no doubt, continue to scramble to play nice with the potentially astounding free public domain catalog available through Google Books. Neither Amazon nor Apple has any need to monetize that activity, but it is essential that Google Books access be part of the feature set.

Kindle Nation – Volume 1, Number 1

Good morning Kindlers!

So much has been going in the world of the Amazon Kindle that I have decided to begin trying to condense news and developments that I want to share with you in a weekly “Kindle Nation” email newsletter. You will receive this if you have signed up in the past for my updates or links, or if you have sent me a “subscribe to Kindle Nation” email, but you can opt out easily just by sending an email with “unsubscribe” in the subject line to KindleNation@gmail.com. I can promise that the weekly newsletter will be brief (never more than 1,000 words), simple in format, and aimed at helping Kindle owners to get more out of their Kindles, solve irksome little problems, and keep up to date with new Kindle developments and fresh Kindle content.

I’m going to try to focus on 5 or 6 nuggets a week, and here’s the lineup for Kindle Nation – Volume 1, Number 1:

1. Thousands of free books now in the Kindle Store, and an easy way to organize your search
2. Kindle Gift Cards
3. Countdown to the Kindle 2.0: 7 Days
4. Newly Streamlined Kindle Home Page
5. Here’s a Fun and Timely Read

So, without further ado:

1. Thousands of free books now in the Kindle Store, and an easy way to organize your search

Last week Amazon added over 7,000 free books to the Kindle Store. Although they are public domain titles previously available through Project Gutenberg and elsewhere, this is an important step and a sign of things to come as Amazon makes content deals along the way toward Jeff Bezos’ stated long-term goal of giving Kindle owners access to “every book ever printed.” The downside for some Kindle owners is that, temporarily, this made it harder to find Kindle titles that are being offered free due to a zero-price promotion. Not to worry. With a tip of the cap to Karen in the Kindle Korner community, I am happy to be able to provide this link that places the most popular zero-price titles first in a Kindle Store search: Just click on Search Free Promotional Content in the Kindle Store or paste http://tinyurl.com/SearchFreeKindleContent into your browser.

2. Kindle Gift Cards

There’s nothing revolutionary here, but it is a nice convenience. Here’s the scoop: Something New for Kindle Purchases: The Amazon Kindle Gift Card!

3. Countdown to the Kindle 2.0: 7 Days

By now you have heard from me and elsewhere about the Kindle 2.0. To recap, here’s the story on Amazon’s planned February 9 press conference, hosted by Jeff Bezos, at New York’s Morgan Library. And here’s my experience with Amazon Customer Service, which makes me very confident that Amazon will soon begin offering the Kindle 2.0 to customers who are waiting in line with existing Kindle backorders.

If you have read my Kindle Guide, you know that I’ve already had a lot to say about what I think should be, and will be, the features of the Kindle 2.0. So I am not going to burden the record with more of the same, except to say that it is critical that Amazon provide as many as possible of these features to existing Kindle owners with a firmware update via the Whispernet. And please believe me when I say that, while I understand the interest of many of us, myself included, in upgrading to the new Kindle, I am not recommending or suggesting to anyone that they throw their first Kindles to the curb and buy something new.

But if you do want to place a Kindle order so that you will fix your place in line for the Kindle 2.0, here’s a link to place your order.

4. Newly Streamlined Kindle Home Page

If you haven’t checked out my Kindle Home Page website lately, a natural consequence of the work I am doing to prepare the next Kindle guide is that the website has been streamlined and spruced up a bit for your covenience.

5. Here’s a Fun and Timely Read

Whether you are a boomer who knows all the words to “Peggy Sue” or tweener who would like to learn about the lives of the musicians who came (long) before Green Day or the Jonas Brothers, you may be interested in a new Kindle exclusive from author Staton Rabin: OH BOY! The Life and Music of Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneer Buddy Holly. According to my friend Len Edgerly over at the Kindle Chronicles podcast, it reads well for those from 9 to, well, somewhat older.

Okay, that’s a wrap. Please feel free to share this with your friends and fellow Kindlers, and encourage them to subscribe by sending an email with “subscribe” in the subject line to KindleNation@gmail.com. If you are already receiving it, you don’t need to subscribe unless you want to give me an address change.

Stephen Windwalker
Kindle Home Page website
Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/WindwalkerFB
Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/Windwalker-Amazon

What Amazon Customer Service Has to Say About Shipping My Next Kindle

Although I haven’t been able to share or source all of what I have learned about the Kindle 2.0 in recent weeks, yesterday I received an Amazon Customer Service email that I feel perfectly free to share, and it encourages a very specific conclusion about how Amazon will handle back-orders for Kindle units once it rolls out the Kindle 2.0 with a big-splash press conference in New York on February 9. Here’s what “Ken I,” which I suspect is as much his first name as “Help-You” is his last name, had to say (minus the boiler-plate stuff):


Thanks for asking about when a new version of the Kindle will be released.

We’ve made no announcement about the next generation Kindle, so I can’t answer your question. However, if I were you, I would not cancel my order. I suspect you’ll be happy. If you need help with your Kindle or a Kindle order, please contact customer support at 1-866-321-8851.

As a reminder, the Kindle now has over 210,000 books, magazines, and blogs available for wireless delivery, with no computer required.

I hope this helps. We look forward to your next visit.

Now, as you know, I do some writing about Amazon and its products, and I occasionally send in “checker” questions just to see how the company will respond, particularly about products-in-the-pipeline issues. I often feel like the responses I get have been drafted by Amazon’s corporate lawyers. But I loved the existential felicity of this one, and — I’m saying this with appreciation — if anything there may have been corporate psychologists involved in drafting its language about what Ken I. would do if he were me, and about what will make me happy.

Here’s the point: They’ve told me nothing, but they have told me everything. No company in the world knows its customers better than Amazon, and Amazon knows very well that the only thing that will make me happy, as someone who placed a new Kindle order on January 2, will be the chance to receive a Kindle 2.0 as soon as it is ready to ship in February.

So, dusting off the Humanities 6 literary analysis skills that I learned at Harvard back in the Spring of 1969, I parse Ken I’s message to say: “Don’t cancel your Kindle order, because it will hold your place in line for a Kindle 2.0. We’ll contact you as soon as the Kindle 2.0 launch becomes official and arrange, with your approval and perhaps a few extra bucks, to ship you the newest version of the Kindle.”

Just as obviously, anyone with a Kindle order in the pipeline will have a chance to review the new Kindle 2.0 feature set before giving approval to the Kindle 2.0 shipment, and to cancel the Kindle order altogether if the new feature set is unappealing. So, if you want to be one of the first in line for a new Kindle 2.0 when the units begin to ship, Amazon is making it very easy for you to order a new Kindle from Amazon’s main Kindle buying page, if you have not done so already.

One of those tiny little Kindle tips that can make a big difference….

I had an email question from Phil in Chicago yesterday that pointed me in the direction of a tip that some Kindle users may find helpful. Phil had purchased both the Kindle edition and the paperback edition of The Complete User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle, and he was stymied trying to find a hyperlinked phrase in the Kindle edition after inferring (from the fact that it is underlined in the paperback edition) that in the Kindle edition it would probably link to other interesting content.

The question made me realize that some of the Kindle features that have become second nature for me after nearly a year of engagement may still seem counter-intuitive to many or even most Kindle users. After all, for decades we have grown used to using the index or the Table of Contents of a book to find specific items in the text. With the Kindle, those methods are the least efficient.

The reason is that the Kindle’s search feature is a far more efficient way avenue for searching out nearly anything that one is looking for on one’s Kindle. Here’s the relevant text of my email back to Phil:

Hey Phil,

If you find a phrase in any hardcopy edition and you want to locate it in an electronic version that you have stored on your Kindle, you can use the Kindle’s search feature to look it up. Just follow these steps:

1. Turn off your Kindle’s wireless switch if it is on, so that the search won’t bog down in searching Wikipedia or the web.

2. Click “SEARCH” on the bottom row of the Kindle keyboard.

3. Type in the phrase you are looking for and use the scroll wheel to click “Go.” Tip: It is important to use a specific enough phrase so that you get a short list, just as you would with a Google search. When I typed in “some intriguing,” my Kindle came up with 5 selections from documents I had onboard: 4 from the New York Times and 1 from my book.

4. Select the correct citation from the list that appears (it usually takes about 30 seconds, but of course this depends on specificity), and you will be delivered to the text you are looking for in the document.

5. If the text is a hyperlink that you want to pursue, be sure to turn on your Kindle’s wireless switch before you use the scroll wheel to click on the link.

That worked for me — let me know if it works for you.


Naturally, this process is useful whether it applies to a phrase that you found in a hardcopy, a phrase that you might remember from an earlier reading, or any other phrase. And if you turn on the wireless switch before you search, the search may take a little longer but you would also find iterations on the web and in Wikipedia.