Lending Kindle Books

Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

One of the big advantages the Nook has had over the Kindle is the fact that Nook users can lend books to their friends, and Kindle users can’t. That’s all about to change. Amazon announced that it will soon be bringing lending to the Kindle—so long as the publishers agree. Users can lend books for a 14-day period. You will be unable to read any books you lend for the duration of the loan.

Another new feature Amazon plans to add is the ability to read periodicals via free Kindle apps, such as the iPhone app and iPad app. Android users and presumably Kindle for Mac and Kindle for PC users will have this feature some time later. Kindle users can already do this with their books, but not magazines.

The Nook still allows users to load ePub books to the device and borrow ebooks from libraries. Presumably this new lending feature on the Kindle can be used by libraries, but I’m not certain—it sounds like it would be a feature that individual users would find more convenient and easy to use than libraries would. No word on whether ePub books or library lending are features that will come to the Kindle, but to my way of thinking, the Kindle is looking like the better deal all the time.

Barbara Kingsolver on World Book Club


Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible is a book that means a great deal to me. I don’t think you can forget it once you’ve read it. It demands a lot from a reader, but the reward is so rich. It’s beautiful and terrible all in one.

Kingsolver was the the guest on the most recent episode of the BBC’s World Book Club. She discussed this novel (a spoiler is revealed at the end, so listen with care if you still haven’t read this book and want to).

World Book Club Podcast: Barbara Kingsolver

(Click the plus sign to control the player.)

I find Kingsolver’s discussion of this book fascinating. It’s one of those books that I read and immediately knew I’d read something important, a classic.

photo credit: Steve Evans

Kindle Singles and Amazon’s iPhone App

kindle3I have two pieces of news from Amazon that might interest you.

First, Kindle is introducing Kindle Singles, which Amazon describes as “Kindle books that are twice the length of a New Yorker feature or as much as a few chapters of a typical book.” It looks like Amazon is trying to attract writers who want to self-publish for the Kindle.

Amazon has also updated its iPhone app to include barcode scanning. It only works on the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4. What can you do with it? Scan the barcode of an item and check Amazon’s inventory for it. You might save yourself some money if you’re out book shopping (or shopping for anything else, considering how Amazon has branched out).

photo credit: daz smith

Booking Through Thursday: Traveling with Books

House of Seven Gables

This week’s Booking Through Thursday prompt asks “When you travel, how many books do you bring with you? Has this changed since the arrival of e-books?”

How many books I pack for trips depends on how long I plan to be gone. I usually just take one because I don’t often find time to read on vacations when I take them. However, I took my Kindle on my most recent trip to Salem. I took no other books. My travel reading packing has definitely changed since ebooks. For one thing, I was able to download Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables the day I visited the actual house. In fact, if I had taken my Kindle with me to visit the House of Seven Gables itself, I could have downloaded the book at the actual site and might have begun reading it in the beautiful gardens next to the house. I might not pack actual books for trips ever again. My Kindle is much lighter, and packing it instead means I can actually take more books than I otherwise would be able to take. Also, if I decide on a whim to read something else, I can download a new book in about a minute. Can’t beat it.

I found some bookish news you might be interested in. Related to e-books and travel is Attributor’s finding that e-book piracy is on the rise. Probably not a huge surprise to folks with e-readers. For the record, all my books are either free titles or legally purchased books (in case you were wondering). I think maybe Kindle’s closed format (not allowing ePub formats, for example) probably prevents piracy, but you can still load them with PDF’s, provided the books have been made available in that format.

LitWorld wants to help one million children learn to read by 2014. You can help! In related news, WorldReader.org and Amazon are working together to digitize African books and provide access to e-books by African readers and e-readers for students in Ghana. Nice to see folks pitching in to increase literacy and also to help make reading easier and more accessible.

photo credit: danahuff

Kindle for the Web

12 of 12 - SixAmazon announced Kindle for the Web today. With Kindle for the Web, you can read the first chapter of a book right in your browser, but what I find interesting and exciting is ability to embed book samples in your blog or share via Twitter, Facebook, or email. If you are an Amazon affiliate, and you embed a book in your website, you have the potential to earn referral fees if visitors choose to purchase the book. I think this has great potential for readers to share books, especially book bloggers, and to test out a book for free in an easy way before deciding if they want to read the rest.

Of course, if you have a Kindle, you may have already tried out the sample book feature, and in my opinion it’s not this feature that really adds value to the Kindle experience. I think the selling point will be the ability to share samples of books through blogs an social networks. Amazon seems bent on making the Kindle experience better all the time, which can only be a good thing for folks who own one.

I have a narrow blog template, and I don’t think it looks as nice on my blog as it might on a wider template, but here’s a sample of the book I’m reading right now:

And did you know you can also get Scrabble for your Kindle?

photo credit: goblinbox (queen of ad hoc bento)

The First Book I Fell For

The Guardian is asking for its writers to share the stories of books that ignited their passion for literature.

I have always been a reader. I can remember curling up with The Cat in the Hat even before I could really read it, just wishing I could read it on my own. I can remember turning to books as a child whenever I wanted to learn more about something—whether it was dinosaurs or ancient Egypt. I can remember going to the library and the bookstore with my mother, and I can’t remember a single time she didn’t let me buy a book from the store. She let me read what I wanted, too. I can remember curling up with Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, Lois Duncan and Madeleine L’Engle. If I had to pick one book that ignited my own passion for literature, it would be To Kill a Mockingbird.

 To Kill a Mocking Girl

I read this novel in my junior year as part of my American literature course. I had read other books I loved, but this book touched me so deeply. I knew the characters. They were like my family. I cried through most of the end. I can still remember being ahead of the reading schedule for the first time. I can remember reading a required book on my own time, and more than I needed to read for an assignment. I remember looking forward to classes when Mrs. Keener let us read quietly for the period. Any time I was able to spend with that book was precious time. I have had some amazing experiences teaching it since then, too. I have read other books afterward that have touched me every bit as deeply, and perhaps even more deeply, but this book was the first. It might be the book that made me decide to teach English.

What book ignited your passion for literature?

Update, 9/24/10: Audible is getting into the act with their “First Loves.” Check it out!

photo credit: Bruna Ferrara

To Stieg or Not to Stieg

The Millennium TrilogyIt seems like virtually everyone is reading Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I saw it tucked under the arms of people at work. Book bloggers were reviewing it. It appeared in ads for Amazon’s Kindle. I began to wonder if I should read the books. Some reviews tend to tell me that perhaps they wouldn’t be my thing, but others rave about the books. Who to trust? Who to believe?

Then this link went out over Twitter, and I forgot who tweeted it, but it’s some pretty harsh criticism of Larsson and his work. What do you think? Have you read them? Does Janet Potter have a point? Or do you disagree with her completely?

In other news, my beloved Kindle is broken. It looks like this:

Kindle WTF

I did some research and discovered it can happen with even moderate pressure, and I fully admit it probably received some moderate pressure. I called Amazon, and they are shipping a replacement to me, which will arrive by Tuesday. They didn’t ask how it got like this, nor did they charge me for the replacement. Even though my Kindle is still under warranty, most companies would try to charge the customer for damage like this. I am to send my broken Kindle back, probably so it can be fixed and sold as a refurbished model. In fact, the one I’m getting in the mail is probably refurbished. The customer service couldn’t have been better. I had to fight back tears when I discovered it was broken last night, but Amazon made it all better again. I know they have taken some PR hits lately, but I’ve been a customer for twelve years, and I’ve never had anything but great service. If we had an indie bookstore around here anymore (Coffee Buy the Book closed a long time ago), I might buy from indies more often. I always get something from the Little Shop of Stories when I am in the vicinity of Decatur. As it is, I don’t really have an indie to support, and Amazon has been great to me.

photo credit: Terry Chay

Hunger Games Withdrawal

Why are books always better than movies?

What am I going to do now? I finished Mockingjay, and I don’t have another Hunger Games series book to snatch up and gulp down. The folks over at Forever Young Adult have a name for this serious condition. They call it TEABS—The End of an Awesome Book Syndrome. I have a bad case of it. In fact, I think it’s why I was grumpy for absolutely no discernible reason yesterday. After all, I had the day off. I should have been pretty happy. Instead I was surly and snappish. One of my Goodreads buddies suggested it was because I didn’t have another Hunger Games book to read, and I thought, “He’s absolutely right.” Oh, I picked up The House of the Seven Gables again and began The Heretic’s Daughter. It won’t be the same. I might even love those books in their way, who knows. But they will probably always be like the rebound boyfriend—who knows how it could have worked out if you hadn’t tried to go out with him after the guy you thought was The One broke up with you. It’s a strange feeling, being on the other side of having read a fantastic series, left only with the feeling that there won’t be any more. I felt the same way (only worse) when I had finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I have grad school to throw my effort into, and in fact, I had better take that seriously or I’ll be in some trouble. I need to do some work on my portfolio.

Jonah Lehrer speculates on “The Future of Reading” in Wired. So do we read differently on e-readers? I know I highlight and annotate more because I am not worried about mucking up the book with my scribbling. Aside from my Kindle books, the only books I highlight and annotate are textbooks and professional reading. And there is something to be said for feeling free to talk back to my books. An annotation I added last night in The House of the Seven Gables was a simple observation that Nathaniel Hawthorne sure likes to break the fourth wall. I also highlighted a particularly good barb about the Puritans in The Heretic’s Daughter that I’ll probably share with students when we study The Crucible. And did you know you can access your highlights and annotations online? You have to log in, which keeps your notes secure, but still, how cool is that? On the other hand, I will never decide I don’t want to hold a real book in my hand. It was nice reading The Hunger Games series like that. You knew I was going to bring it back around to that, didn’t you. I should probably stop blogging and get to work on my portfolio. Throwing myself into my work—isn’t that the classic way to get over that lost relationship? Whatever works.

One last note and I am leaving. If you all had told me I would find more pleasure in my book blog than my education blog, and that I would post more frequently, despite the fact that anything I write over there gets comments now, whereas comments are somewhat scarce around here, I would have told you you were crazy. This poor blog has limped along for years. It didn’t even find a focus until I’d been writing for at least four years. That’s kind of crazy. I’m so happy to feel like a part of the book bloggers’ table in the cafeteria. Even if I don’t quite feel like the cool book bloggers with the black turtlenecks—the ones who have friends who are French foreign exchange students.

photo credit: Massimo Barbieri

2010 Decatur Book Festival

Decatur Book Festival

2010 Decatur Book Festival

This weekend is the 5th annual AJC Decatur Book Festival. I had a lot of fun at last year’s festival. Jonathan Franzen will be there. I’m hoping to be able to see Diana Gabaldon, who I missed last year because the crowd was way too big—her latest book had just been released. I think it should be a good time, and I hope the weather will be nice. Last year was crowded, but it was good because there were still plenty of places to sit, and it was heartwarming for this English teacher to see books bring so many folks out.

I don’t know if I’m being prickly or sensitive, but it bugs me that folks who commented on my review of Charity Girl, even if they agreed with the assessment, felt the need to point out they can understand Georgette Heyer’s Regency slang, ergo, I must have reading comprehension problems. Those exact words weren’t said, but they were sure implied a few times. Listen, I can read Robert Burns’s Scots dialect. I can understand Joseph in Wuthering Heights. I don’t think I have reading comprehension problems if I can’t figure out a few words in what I’m sure is probably historically accurate and meticulously researched but nonetheless dated and unfamiliar—apparently just to me—Regency cant. I didn’t like the book, and I stand by my review, but I don’t think I will participate in something like that again. I think the real problem some of the commenters had with my review is that I didn’t enjoy a book by an author they liked. Honestly, many of them were polite about it. In fact, I felt those who completely disagreed and yet didn’t feel the need to denigrate my intelligence probably made some good points. They know the author better than I do, after all. But I don’t understand the point in trying to belittle someone you disagree with. It isn’t likely to make them decide you’re right.

Reading Update: August 29, 2010

Reading a book at the beachI set aside Syrie James’s The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, which I am reading as part of the Everything Austen Challenge, because everyone I know is reading Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay, and I hadn’t even read The Hunger Games. Well, I’m about 200 pages in now, after borrowing it from a friend, and I have to say it’s real page-turner. I have been trying to talk my daughter into reading it because Collins’s writing style actually reminds me of Sarah’s. I think Sarah would like it. I might finish it today (after all, I read more than the amount of pages I have left yesterday). If so, I’ll post a review later.

I do have a couple of theories that I can’t wait to discover whether or not I’m correct about. District 13, believed to be destroyed by the Capitol, reminds me of the group of readers in Fahrenheit 451, and I am wondering if they’re not really destroyed but secretly carrying on some form of resistance. Don’t tell me! I want to find out. Also, it’s obvious to me that the Romeo and Juliet move that Peeta pulled is no act, whatever Katniss has decided to believe. But I guess I’ll find that out.

I am still reading David Copperfield on DailyLit. The infamous Miss Havisham has just been mentioned for the first time. I picked up Jane Mendelsohn’s American Music at Audible after hearing Mendelsohn interviewed by Valerie Jackson on Between the Lines. The book sounded interesting. After listening for a short time, I think I would have put the second chapter of the book first. It seems a little disjointed. But I haven’t been listening long, so we’ll see. It is short for an audio book. Of course, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables is still on my Kindle, though I haven’t even finished chapter 2 yet. I bought The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent and Juliet by Anne Fortier on the Kindle with my Amazon Associates gift card. Also subscribed to The New Yorker on Kindle. I’ll let you know how it is. It’s my first Kindle magazine subscription.

What are you reading?

photo credit: Simon Cocks