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From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: What’s with Vook Books and the Kindle?

By Steve Windwalker

Thanks to long-time Kindle Nation citizen Nina S. for sending in this perfectly reasonable question about “enhanced” Kindle books with audio and video content:

Hi, Steve…
I am puzzled … why are so many Vook-based books showing up on your listing of books for Kindle? As far as I can determine, I can’t use Vook-based books on my Kindle 3. Or am I way off base?
Cheers, Nina
Well, Nina, maybe you’re a little off base on this one, but that just suggests to me that there are probably a lot of Kindle owners in similar straits, which to me means that someone — either the Vook folks or the Amazon folks or both — could be a better job of marketing or informing Kindle owners about these “Vook-based books.”
Here’s the scoop:

  • All of the Vook Books – even those that are tagged as “Animated” or “Kindle Edition with Audio/Video and often sold at a higher price — are composed mainly of text that can be read on any Kindle. When you come to a section that is not compatible with your Kindle, you’ll see something like what’s shown in the screenshot at right.
  • As of now, the enhanced or animated audio/video content that won’t show up on your Kindle is supported on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. If you download a VookBook to your Kindle now but want to view it/read it/hear it later on one of these iOs devices at some time in the future, you can just send it wirelessly to the Kindle app on any such device that is registered to your account. It is also quite likely that such content will be compatible at some point with a new Kindle tablet, even if is not compatible when the K-Tab launches.
  • If you don’t anticipate owning such a device in the future, you should always check to see if there is a non-enhanced version of the VookBook available. These basic versions contain all the text and are often priced at half of the cost of the enhanced version. And without putting too fine a point on this, let’s just say that you won’t be missing that much. For instance, it’s not like the enhanced version of the Vook title History of Rock and Roll 101: The TextVook is packed with great clips from the past, either audio or video.
  • As to why you’ve been noticing VookBooks in our Free Book and 99-Center search tool listings lately, it’s just driven by the appearance of these titles at the applicable price points in the Kindle Store. As our web developer Mark likes to say, the lists are created “automagically.” But it occurred to me that it was possible Vook might be focusing more on Kindle marketing in advance of a Kindle tablet launch.

Hope that helps!

From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: Q&A About the New $114 “Kindeal”


Thanks to Kindle Nation citizen Kim for a great email with some smart questions about what to expect with the new $114 Kindle with Special Offers, prefaced by some very kind words about Kindle Nation, which of course we did not mind in the least.


As you may have noticed on our Facebook page, we’ve taken to using Kindle Nation citizen Roger K’s felicitous handle for the Kindle with Special Offers. We just can’t go with a four-word name, around these parts we will be calling it the Kindeal, which we personally consider positive rather than snarky or negative. But we digress, so here is Kim’s email:


Hey Steve and the KND team!
First let me say that you guys are awesome!  I subscribe to both your blog through my Kindle and your email newsletter… the information and deals provided are invaluable!  I recently purchased my first Kindle (ver 3, bought in Sept of 2010), and I just LOVE it!  Thanks for providing such a great service to the Kindle-sphere!!
I have a couple of questions about the new Kindle with Special Offers that is soon to be released.  While I know you may not have ALL the answers, you guys seem to have A LOT of the answers before we even ask the questions!  I tried to get information from the Amazon website, but the details about this new product are very vague.  I’m thinking of buying one of these, since I think it might “save” me money in the long run, but am still on the fence.  The answers to these questions might help me make up my mind:
1)  Will the deals offered have expiration dates?
2)  How often will new deals be offered?
3)  Since I’m assuming that this is an “experiment”, is it possible that sponsors will decide not to partner with this product and it will just become a “plain” Kindle in the future?
Thanks again in advance for any insight you can provide!
Kim, you’re right, neither we nor anyone else outside Amazon has “all the answers” on this, but Amazon’s current and past practices and partnerships conspire to make the answers to these three questions crystal clear — with the caveat that at least until the Kindeal ships on May 3, these will just be my opinions. I’ll take them at a time using your question numbers:
  1. Yes, all or nearly all the deals offered on the Kindeal will have expiration dates. I believe that Amazon will operate with the same definition of a “deal” that applies to the Amazon Deal of the Day, Groupon, LivingSocial, Woot, and the shortlived Kindle Deal of the Day program that ran for about a week as a beta before it was shut down very early this year: a deep discount for an expressly stated limited time that would usually be measured in hours and, at most, in days.
  2. At the very least, we can expect new deals to be offered every day on the Kindeal. These will always be accessed via a link at the bottom of the Home display, so that you have to choose to see them beyond a teaser line or two, although it is possible — but unlikely, I think — that deals might be introduced occasionally in the form of a sponsored screensaver as well.
  3. I think there is zero chance that the inventory of deals and sponsors will dry up so that the Kindeal would just become a cheaper Kindle. In addition to its own vast retail inventory, Amazon has as much access to retailers, manufacturers and publishers who will be drawn to this model as any company in the world, and has only strengthened that range through its active participation in Woot, LivingSocial, and its own Deal of the Day and GoldBox programs.
I’m sufficiently interested in the new Kindeal — and perhaps also that my job requires me to know how Amazon is pursuing this — that I have decided to spring for the Kindeal. If you’d like to join me at this $114 price, here’s a formal link with Amazon’s own terminology: Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers.
Meanwhile, I’ve got to decide what to do with my old Kindle Wi-Fi. Shall I hold a giveaway? A charity auction? A Facebook Sweepstakes? Or should I give it to my personal assistant and her 8-year-old daughter, who are homeschoolers? I’ll let you know in next week’s weekly digest of Kindle Nation posts,, on April 29….



From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: Larger Font Sizes, and Text-to-Speech, for Easy Reading on the Kindle

Thanks to Marilyn for writing in with a question that may be important for many readers:
I have an amazon kindle and I want to know how to change the size of the type to larger as I just had eye surgery and I would like to read without reading glasses Please help
Marilyn Burstin
Marilyn, just to the right of the space bar, on the bottom row of your Kindle keyboard, there is a font key marked “Aa.” Press that key from within any Kindle book or text document and you should see a display like the one in the screenshot at the right. Across the top, in this screen shot from my Kindle 3, are 8 font sizes including a couple of very large options that should suit many visually impaired readers.
You can select the font size that is right for you by using the 5-way controller at the right of the Kindle keyboard, and your setting will remain in place for all Kindle documents that you read. Kindle apps for computers and mobile devices also offer similar font sizing.
Unfortunately, Amazon has not figured out a way to increase the font sizes in the way our Kindles display the inbuilt Kindle Store, our Home screens, and other pages like the Kindle’s settings page. Given how useful the Kindle can be for visually impaired readers, such an enhancement would be terrific.
Meanwhile, on that same font-size page on the Kindle 2, Kindle 3, and Kindle DX, you’ll also see a line that allows you to turn on Text-to-Speech, which will really give your eyes a rest if you can get used to the slightly robotic voice and the fact that some publishers continue to opt out of the program so that Amazon is forced to block visually impaired readers from being able to enjoy their books. As you can see from the post linked just below, I’ve found it possible to get used to that voice….

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

From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: "Six of One" When It Comes to Kindles That Die

I get emails from Kindle owners every day, and I love to read them. But two I received today were about problems  people were experiencing with their Kindles, and they got me thinking about the possibility that Amazon’s amazingly good Kindle Support could actually lull people into thinking they do not need to protect themselves and their Kindles. Au contraire.

The first email came from my older daughter. You can poke fun at me about this, but yes, I gave Kindles this Christmas to both of my daughters and my son-in-law. That’s not the surprising thing; the surprising thing is that I waited until 2010 to do it.

Anyway, all three of them are loving their Kindles, but late last night my older daughter wrote that “today the screen on mine went a little batty, as if it was broken, but I can’t figure out how to completely turn it off. I did the restart but that didn’t work.” Based on a couple of Kindle 2s of my own that had to be replaced back in 2009, I told her, “if you have any kind of shadowing or remnants of earlier screens they should send you a replacement.”

Within few moments she was on the phone with Kindle support, and she’ll be receiving a replacement Kindle in a day or two. During the conversation she wrote me that “it’s the best outsourced customer service I have experienced so far.”

Just so.

But here’s the problem. The response on these things is so great, when your Kindle is covered by the initial standard warranty, that you might get lulled into assuming you never have to take the next step and get the extended warranty. You might assume the folks at Kindle Support (1-866-321-8851) are always going to solve any problem whether your Kindle is five weeks or five years old.

That’s why it is important that I share the other email that I received this morning from Kindle Nation citizen Grace:

I’m wondering if you can help me.  Last night I dropped my Kindle on the floor.  It’s a  marble floor, ouch.  It landed on the screen but it didn’t break or crack. Two-thirds of the left side of the screen shows the words of the book I was reading the right side just has some distorted white, gray, and black lines.  Is this thing toast or can it be brought back to life?  I’ve turned it off and on, recharged it overnight, but nothing has changed. 

Thanks, Grace

Thanks for writing, Grace. Usually I have to ask a few more questions before I can answer, but this is a pretty vivid picture, and I think the answer is pretty clearly “toast.”

So, the death of a Kindle is far from being the biggest tragedy any of us will ever experience, but it’s a drag. If you happen to have protected your Kindle with an extended warranty either from SquareTrade or from Amazon’s own subsidiary Service Net Warranty Solutions, it’s a lot less of a drag. The warranties aren’t all that cheap, but they are a lot cheaper than a new Kindle, and they cover accidents, spills, and drops, even on a marble floor. They are all listed on the Kindle Nation Warranties page shown in the screenshot at the right, and you can check them out by clicking here or on the screenshot.

The alternatives, I guess, are either to “self-insure” or to just, well, hope for the best. Which I suppose are six of one, half a dozen of the other.

But if you do go that latter route, all may not be last, as noted in this comment from Jim S:

Jim S said…

Even then call Kindle support. They will still replace the broken Kindle out of warranty, but for a fee. Replacing my US K2 was about $130 last Spring. The new screen was much better than the replaced one had ever been, so it seemed well worth the cost.

January 6, 2011 12:55 AM 

From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: When I’m at My Book Group, How Do I Find the Passage That’s Being Discussed Without Page Numbers?

Thanks to Kindle Nation citizen Dorothy K. for a question that I suspect resonates with many Kindle owners, regardless of whether the problem is experienced in a book group, a classroom discussion, or some other setting:

Stephen, I bought your user’s guide to help me use the Kindle I received at Christmas.  I love the Kindle, especially when traveling.  I downloaded and read books all the way to Arizona and back.

One drawback is that when I attend my four book groups, I cannot get to the page or the quotes that they want to talk about.  For this reason, I am questioning the new higher prices.  I can buy many books at Costco now for the Kindle price.  Why did they raise the prices?  The new Laura Bush book is $14.99.

Well, the lack of page numbers on the Kindle, which of course results from the changeableness of font sizes, can be challenging in a variety of ways. But here’s a fix that only takes a few seconds and should work in the vast majority of situations.

Let’s say your book group is discussing Rena Walmsley’s steamy but unforgettable novel Girl on Fire, and focusing on the scene where Alicia Wentworth returns to Cabot Academy and apologizes, for her misadventure, to the head of the school. It won’t help you to know that your fellow book group members are focused on page 217 of their paperback copies, and chances are that none of them are going to be able to direct you to location 2762 in your Kindle edition. But if someone will give you a few keywords, the process of finding the focus of discussion can go very quickly.

If someone calls out “Miss Sharp, I’m so sorry,” and you just type in “sharp so sorry” and use the 5-way controller to select “find,” you’ll be delivered almost immediately to the passage under discussion, as seen in the screen shot below.

I hope that helps at least a little, Dorothy. And believe me, I feel your pain, and my own, about those prices, but the vast majority of Kindle books are still under ten bucks.

From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: Changing Kindles and Keeping Your Content

Thanks to transitional Kindle Nation citizen Crystal, who posted this question on my Facebook wall:
“Hello Steve…. Question, I have the Kindle 1st generation but I want to get an newer one. Would you recommend it and if so which one would you recommend and will I be able to transfer my stuff on the old one to the new one?”
Hi Crystal, and I appreciate the great questions!

First, actually I think it’s a great time to get a Kindle 2. They’re going for $259 on Amazon, and there are nearly half a million books in the Kindle Store with about a thousand a day being added! Despite the efforts of publishers to raise ebook prices, over 75% of all the books in the Kindle Store are still priced at $9.99 and below, and a third of those are less than a dollar. The Kindle is the easiest environment for downloading and reading free books from the internet, and with the growing list of free Kindle Apps it’s easy to read your Kindle content just about anywhere if you also happen to have a a PC, Mac, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.

I’ve had a Kindle 1, a Kindle 2, and a Kindle DX, and I sold the Kindle 1 and the DX and kept the Kindle 2, but that’s just me.

I hope you will use my link to make the purchase, because that way you’ll get Amazon to send a small commission that helps support Kindle Nation Daily and defray our costs, and not a dime of it comes out of your pocket. Here’s a link

About transferring your stuff from an old Kindle to a new, it’s a two-part answer:
  • All of the books that you bought in the Kindle Store will transfer easily to your new Kindle once you register the new Kindle to the same Amazon account. They will automatically go to your “archived items” folder, and you can then go to your Manage Your Kindle page to send any books wirelessly to the new Kindle. That will also be a good time to double check your Kindle subscriptions to periodicals and blogs like Kindle Nation Daily to activate them to your new Kindle. 
  • Then there’s the content that you may have acquired from sources other than from the Kindle Store. If you’re anything like me you’ve got plenty of free content, personal documents, music, podcasts, audiobooks, and pictures on your current Kindle, and what I would recommend is that you create a file on your computer called something like “Offload from Kindle 1” and use your USB cable to drag and drop (or copy and paste) all your existing files from your Kindle to it, with subfolders that mirror the subfolders on your Kindle such as “documents,” “audible,” etc. Then, once your new Kindle is up and running, it will be a snap to use the USB connection to drag and drop the files that you want to keep back from the computer to the appropriate folders on your Kindle 2.
Hope that helps, Crystal!

From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: Creating a Picture Album on Your Kindle

Thanks to Kindle Nation citizen C.A. for this recurring question about how to create an album of photos (or other graphic files) on your Kindle:

Hi, Mr. Windwalker. I bought your Complete User’s Guide To the Amazing Amazon Kindle 2 and followed the directions for putting pictures on my Kindle, but the “book” does not show up. Is there something I’m missing here? I made a directory called “pictures” that sits next to Audible, documents, etc., and yet it does not show up in the home menu. Can you help me?
C.A., thanks for buying the guide, and for your question. This question comes up from time to time and it’s usually a simple matter of slowing down and making sure that you follow each step one at a time and in detail, which can be hard when you can’t wait to get those pictures onto your Kindle! So here are those steps again:
  1. Connect your Kindle to your computer via USB cable and navigate through “Finder” or “My Computer” to your Kindle. On a PC, the Kindle will probably be recognized as an “E” or “F” drive by your computer, depending on your hardware configuration. When you click on your Kindle to open it you will find that its memory is already configured with folders such as audible, documents, music and system.
  2. Add a new folder called “pictures” alongside the existing folders (unless you have already done this in a previous session. Important note: You must follow the exact instructions here and call the folder “pictures.” If you call it “photos,” for example, the Kindle will not recognize it.
  3. Within the new “pictures” folder, create a subfolder for any group of pictures you want to be able to browse through. Important note: this is an important step that people often skip. Without the named subfolder, you won’t be able to view your pictures.
  4. Create as many subfolders as you wish within the “pictures” folder, but be aware that graphic files, like audio files, can eat up a lot of your Kindle’s storage capacity, far more than most book files. 
  5. Name the subfolders so that you will recognize them when they show up on your Home” screen’s list of titles. 
  6. Copy the applicable pictures — they must be formatted as .jpg, .gif or .png files — into each folder from your desktop computer. 
  7. Disconnect your Kindle from your desktop after you have finished copying pictures, and press the “Home” button to return your Kindle to your Home page.
  8. From “Home,” type “ALT+Z” to prompt your Kindle to recognize the new subfolder as a “Book.” 
  9. If you created a subfolder called “Rover,” you should be able to find the title “Rover” on your Home scteen. Select the title — “Rover,” in this case — and use “Next Page” and “Previous Page” to browse through your Kindle photo album. 
  10. Once you have opened the photo album, press the “Menu” button on the right edge of your Kindle 2 or Kindle DX for additional options. Several commands on the local menu at the bottom of the screen will allow you to adjust your view. You can also type “F” to set or leave “full screen mode,” or use the 5-way to move the cursor over a picture to bring up the “magnifying glass” icon and zoom in by pressing down on the 5-way.
I hope this helps!