About Tom Evslin

Video Profile of Tom Evslin

Follow Tom Evslin on Twitter


Add to Technorati Favorites!
Powered by TypePad
Member since 01/2005


Borrow a Book with Your Kindle

If you're an Amazon Prime member and if you own a Kindle, you can borrow books "free" – one book per month, anyway. You do this through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. You can go to the Library from your Kindle Fire directly from the Fire bookstore; if you have an older Kindle, you go to the Kindle Store and click on "See all categories…"If you're on your computer and you find a book on the Amazon website, it'll tell you whether or not it can be borrowed from the library.

It's up to authors whether or not to make their books available for borrowing. Only book with US rights (currently) and whose eBook editions are exclusively available on Kindle are eligible. So why would you want to do this if you're an author? I bet you weren't even going to ask.

But here are the reasons:

  1. Authors like to be read.
  2. Authors actually get paid when their books are borrowed even though the customers aren't paying (except by buying a Kindle and signing up for Prime).

Amazon has an ingenious system for paying authors. Each month they put $500,000 into a pool (this month they've added $200,000 more). The pool is divided between authors in proportion to the number of times each author's titles are downloaded from Amazon. So authors have an incentive not only to make their books available to the library but also to promote the fact that their books can be borrowed there.

And guess what. Two books by me are available in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. One is hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble, a real murder mystery featuring an entrepreneur, a hacker, VCs, bankers and diverse other suspicious characters and informed by my stint as a CEO of a company which went public during the bubble – all fiction, of course. The other is my very much shorter The Interpreter's Tale set in Barcelona, wandering in and out of Gaudi architecture, and peopled with pickpockets, terrorists, separatists, and, of course, a hacker. This story used to be an Amazon Short before that category became part of Kindle.

Related posts:

The Interpreter's Tale

New Excerpt from The Interpreter's Tale

hackoff.com is a Finalist for the Lulu Blooker Award (didn't win, though)

The World Economic Forum at Davos Continued (contains an extract set in Davos, of course)



Grumby, Kindle, and the Flash Crash

Grumbys caused the flash crash of the American stock market on May 6th. Readers of Andy Kessler's Grumby knew this as early as June 11th when the e-book edition of the novel was published; the hard cover didn't come out until August 3d by which time the flash crash was yesterday's news. [On October 1 the SEC and the CFTC blamed the flash crash on a single trade by Waddell & Reed, but this is much less interesting than the account in the novel.]

Three things are interesting: the book itself – it's a great read; the fact that the book came out on Kindle first and only later in hardcopy ,even though Kessler is an established and successful author; and the fact that electronic publishing makes it possible to have such fresh topical references in a novel.

Traditionally it takes a year or so after an author finishes writing a book before it makes its way through various edits and can appear on real or virtual bookshelves, assuming that the author already has a publisher lined up. e-publishing obviously shortens the cycle. In fact, the editing of Kindle Grumby isn't as careful as it would be if it had gone through the traditional publishing route (I haven't checked the hardcover edition so don't know whether some of the typos were caught by then). But the timeliness of the references more than makes up for some of the missing polish – much like a blog post, in fact.

Kindle editions are clearly no longer an afterthought; they're a significant part of book release strategy. Yesterdays' Wall Street Journal had an article about John Grisham releasing his new novel, The Confession, simultaneously in hardcover ($15.48) and Kindle ($9.99) editions. One third of the first week sales were of the e-book edition and combined e-book and hardcover first week sales were greater than the first week sales of his previous novel, which was released in hardcover only. First week hardcover sales were less than for the previous book – there certainly is cannibalization. Note the narrow price difference between the two editions – net to the publisher and possibly the author per copy is probably more with the Kindle edition; for the publisher there's no inventory risk or shipping hassle.

Grumby is a about a tech world that changes at the speed of the flash crash. It's about invention, viral adoption, hacking, crowd-sourcing, and brain-surgeon level programmers. Andy Kessler does the same excellent job with this milieu as he does in describing his native world of hedge fund management. And it came out first on Kindle… Does that tell us something about change in the formerly staid world of book publishing?

Related posts:

Kindle for Authors

Kindle'll Win Because Content is King

The Interpreter's Tale – Now on Kindle

The Pigs Ate the Sausage

Margin Surplus – Or Why the US Ain't Broke

Self Publish or Perish

The Interpreter’s Tale – Now on Kindle

The pickpockets of Barcelona are the best in the world; so why are they wasting their time stealing cheap mobile phones? What does all this have to do with Gaudi and his architecture, Catalonian nationalism, and al-Qaida? Why is super-hacker Dom Montain in Barcelona?

The answers to all these questions – which you may not have been asking yourself – are in my long short story (or very short novel) "The Interpreter's Tale", which is now available on Kindle for just $.99.

When I first wrote "The Interpreter's Tale" after a visit to Barcelona and firsthand experience with its famous pickpockets, I published the story as an Amazon Short – a category downloadable only to a PC and not to Kindle and, for some reason, downloadable only in the US. Amazon never promoted the category and finally discontinued it but encouraged authors to move their work to the very successful, very promoted Kindle. And so I have.

You can also use Amazon's free Kindle app to read Kindle listed books on your PC or to download free samples.

My novel hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble sells better on Kindle than in its hardcover edition; it'll be interesting to see how "The Interpreter's Tale" does.

Below is a teaser from the story.  It'll cost you $.99 to find out how it ends.


Barcelona, not Madrid, was the leader's first choice for an attack on Spain. It is well-known that he hates Barcelona, considers it the well-spring of Muslim humiliation which began with the Reconquista in 722AD, continued with the Crusades, and led to the current unsatisfactory state of the world.

Usually the leader's first choice is what happens. But last time Allah did not will it so. The local cell in Barcelona was incompetent; that in Madrid excellent. As the leader feared, the Basques were first given credit for the attack; but this myth was soon dispelled. Spain, as he said it would, recognized their power and elected politicians committed to withdrawal from Iraq.

One does not question the decisions of the leader, even if one is respected enough to be in The Cave (The location of The Cave is always changing. Sometimes it in Afghanistan, sometimes in Pakistan; but it is always The Cave). If one is very respected, one may ask to be informed by what wisdom the leader has made his decision. One has asked to be enlightened of the wisdom by which a further attack on Spain is planned after the success of the operation in Madrid and the quick capitulation of the Spanish, Allah be praised.

"The Spanish are still infidels," the leader reminds them. "They have troops in Afghanistan even though these troops are cowards who are prohibited by protocols from actually fighting. Their culture remains degenerate. They respect neither the Prophet nor those who worship him. There must be a clear lesson that partial capitulation will never be accepted nor will it be proof against our power.

"Allah willing," he continues, " a new time has come. The Caliphate will be restored. This time it will not succumb to the bickering and rivalries and impieties which led to the downfall of the old Caliphate. The world will be united in the one true faith as the Prophet tells us that it must be. It is our honor to be the means to this end. A new lesson is needed and, Allah willing, shall be delivered." He turns in a way which indicates that this discussion is ended.

But then he turns back. "Certain mistakes were made in the last operation," he says. "Our men were prepared to be martyrs but they did not have to be. Worse yet, some were captured before they could be martyred. Allah did not make them strong enough and the infidels learned much more than they should have. These mistakes must not be repeated."

"What are those mistakes that we may avoid them in the next operation?"

"Those who have a need to know already do know. There is no need to spread the knowledge further." He turns away again and this time the conversation really is over.


End of shameless promotion

Kindle for Authors

Kindle ought to be the answer to an author's dream But, for now, it is an almost insurmountable marketing challenge. Read on to learn what I'm trying

No expensive software or hardware is needed to create a Kindle book. Assuming you can write to begin with, you can create a book with Microsoft Word or similar tools (HTML is best but .doc works) and easily upload it for Kindle publication; the details are here on Amazon. Two or three days later your book's in the Kindle store. Amazon pays you a 35% royalty on the suggested retail price (which you set).

You can get a book out fast. You can address topics as timely as last week's installment of TARP. And no publisher or agent is going to tell you "no" or "rewrite and I'll think about it".

What's not to like? Well, for starters, no one is going to know that your book is there.

Amazon does some marketing to Kindle owners and highlights new books on Kindle – but, understandably, these seem to be books which already are hits or are from hit authors. If you're already a hit author, your publisher is worrying about all of this and not you. So, as is almost always the case for unfamous authors, you've got to do your own marketing.

Unfortunately for authors, readers, and even Amazon, there doesn't seem to be a practical way to market Kindle titles which are not on the best-seller list. You can be found by a diligent searcher; your title can certainly be located by someone who is looking for it or for books by you; but you don't have any good way to snare new readers.

Physical books can be advertised and promoted in various ways; all of which are expensive for new authors but some at least verge on the practical. Display and clickthrough advertising can both work because anyone who can read is a prospect for a physical book. But so far there are only an estimated half million Kindles out in the world so, even if you do a very good job of reaching people who are interested specifically in the art of tulip growing as you've explained it in your book, most of your tulip growing readers aren't prospects for a book on Kindle and won't be for some time to come. So you can't sell Kindle-only books through vertical marketing.

What you really want to do is reach those people who own Kindles. After all, there only 230,000 titles available for Kindle; the categories are thin; Kindle fans have to be content starved. They can instantly download a free preview of your book and fall in love with your prose – if they only knew your book existed. That's where it would be good to have help from Amazon – even if you have to pay for it; but none seems to be available. So far I haven't gotten any responses from Amazon to questions on how to market a Kindle title even though my book hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble was an early Kindle title and is also carried in hardcover by Amazon.

One opportunity, of course, is to promote your book on your own blog (see example in the paragraph above in case you missed it). Probably all your readers don't have Kindles but at least the ad is free. But you can do better than that. If you write interesting posts about Kindle, then Google will send Kindle owners to your blog to read your posts (and the promotion for your book).

I stumbled into this by accident, not by thinking. Since Kindle 2 was released, there's been a surge of traffic to Fractals of Change from people doing searches for "Kindle web browsing" and "Kindle Internet". I posted on both of these topics over a year ago but the posts still appear near the top of the first page of search results for these terms. Clearly these readers are interested in Kindle and presumably its content. It took me a week to realize that I ought to put an ad for the Kindle edition of hackoff.com at the top of the right sidebar of this blog even though I was already thinking about how to promote the Kindle edition. Duh! Too soon to know how effective it is.

The second self-help marketing attempt I'm making is through an Amazon marketing program called BXGY (Buy X Get Y). You can attempt to buy placement for your title with some other presumably better-selling title so people who look at that one will also see yours and get a two-fer offer with some savings. This one isn't for the faint of heart. The minimum cost is $1000 for a month long promotion. So what I tried is pairing my book with best-selling Kindle titles that I think appeal to the same readers. It doesn't say anywhere I can find on the Amazon site whether you can actually do this pairing with Kindle titles and I'm only interested in a Kindle-pairing because I only want to pay to reach Kindle owners. Even if it works, you don't get back direct results from Amazon and have to guess how much the pairing affected sales during the month you paid for.

Will let you aspiring e-authors know if Amazon actually accepts the pairing request and, if so, how it seems to have done. Also would be glad for any hints from readers on how to promote a Kindle title.

Kindle’ll Win Because Content is King

Stephen King's novella UR will be available exclusively on Kindle for at least a while as part of the introduction of Kindle 2. Mainstream content by famous authors is unlikely to stay exclusive to the device, but this marketing approach gives a hint of what's to come. Many of us will "need" Kindles either because the content we want is available on them first or because Kindle – and perhaps a set of Kindle-compatible readers – are the only place we can get certain content. Physical books won't die away – especially because they can produced without huge inventory cost using print on demand (POD).

This is partly wishful thinking on my part. I'm hoping that Kindle and devices like it will become an alternate road to publication for new authors and will diminish the gatekeeper function of mainstream publishers. Hits, in most cases, will still require clever marketing, celebrity, and/or luck. Chris Anderson has written famously about how Amazon's "endless shelf" supports the long tail of books which would otherwise be out of print and out of distribution because they didn't make the sales cut for brick and mortar book stores. It makes sense that Kindle and the like will support an even longer tail – books which never would have been published at all except that they can be published and distributed at almost no cost (except the writing!) because they're only published electronically.

Some reference books will simply change to a subscription model so they can be kept ever-current. Cruising guides come to mind because we need to be able to access them even when we're not online but also would like them to be up-to-date.

Extremely topical books will come out first or perhaps exclusively for e-readers since they're need in a hurry but quickly become obsolete.

And books like UR which are lunched with hit power will trade short-term exclusivity for launch publicity. You gotta have a Kindle if you want to be first on your block to read UR.

Perhaps because of production and cost bottlenecks, Amazon is not now aiming the Kindle at the long tail of book publishing. There are many less books, just 230,000, available in the Kindle store than there are in Amazon's marketplace for traditional books. My blog Fractals of Change and my book hackoff.com: an historical murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble are both available on Kindle. I could only make the novel available for Kindle because it already was carried on Amazon as a "real" book; I'm not quite sure how the blog was chosen. Amazon solicits me for marketing and co-promotion opportunities for the traditional book but I haven't yet found out how to do direct marketing to Kindle owners (just asked Amazon). My short story "The Interpreter's Tale" is available as an e-book for downloading from Amazon to a computer but not for Kindle. At some point Amazon'll make this all come together but it hasn't happened yet.

Amazon will eventually have to decide whether it is a device provider or a content reseller. As a device provider, it makes sense to keep the price of the now scarce Kindle high at $359. But a content reseller would want to take razor and blades approach and make the reader cheap or even license the technology liberally to increase the audience for downloads. Tough decision because success would then depend on being the place where author's "publish" and readers search. There isn't much cost to publishing in multiple places. In the physical book world, Amazon has managed to create and expand a position as THE place to find the book you want. For authors today, if your book is going to be carried in only one place, you want that to be Amazon.

My bet is that Amazon will eventually decide to expand the market and take the price of the reader down – especially if it sells in high enough quantities at today's price to lower the cost of manufacture. But this is NOT what Amazon elected to do in yesterday's announcement; they followed the practice of the electronics industry by using lower component costs to increase capability rather than to lower price.    

Author’s Nightmare


12,000 pounds of books; six tons; eight pallets with three layers each containing 14 boxes; each box weighs 37 pounds and has 14 books in it. If you're doing the math you know that one pallet wasn't full.

Bad enough that the hardcover edition of hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble isn't selling enough to justify keeping inventory at the printer/distributor. When the truck delivered them to our rented storage shed it couldn't back up to the door (you can't see the other row of sheds just off camera to the left). It had a manual trolley for rolling pallets off the elevator gate of the truck but the trolley couldn't roll through the snow even with the driver and me pushing it. So the pallets ended up where you see them just outside the shed.

It took Mary and me a couple of hours to carry all the books in and restack them. Mary chided me for being so wordy but kindly didn't mention my real sin of printing so many copies without any real marketing plan for selling them all.

The lesson is NOT don't self-publish. Readership on the web (free) – although hard to determine precisely – was apparently in the tens of thousands. The Kindle edition now outsells the hard cover edition and someday we'll figure out how to promote a Kindle title.

The real lessons are:

  • Books, like anything else, have to be marketed.
  • If you're self-publishing and you're not famous, use a print on demand publisher and don't get stuck with inventory.

We are giving free copies to libraries and are glad for other suggestions on how to move the inventory out of the shed. Ways to give away some copies to promote possible sales of others would be good if you have any ideas.

Kindle Travel Test

Img095_2 I could read books on my Amazon Kindle even when the bright sun was over my shoulder, not just when it was in front of me making me squint as in the very posed picture above. Like a book, Kindle isn’t backlit; it has crisp black type on a grayish surface. At night the gray is slightly less reflective than pulp paper so I couldn’t read Kindle quite as far into the evening as Mary could read her traditional books; had to give up and turn on the light slightly sooner which mattered on our vacation because we were either draining the house battery of a boat or using the last few watts of solar-generated electricity in a rain-swept cabin on land.

Although I did have an opportunity to recharge, Kindle’s own battery – since it’s not providing light and since I wasn’t using the radio – seems as if it would have easily lasted through two weeks and the two books I read on it.

Kindle was more than worth its 10.3 ounces in books I didn’t have to carry. Running out of things to read is not acceptable on a vacation and outdoor adventure-type vacations both make it difficult to predict how much involuntary down (reading) time you’ll have and make it undesirable to carry a lot of extra weight.

I needed to bring one book to read during takeoffs and landings when airlines don’t allow “anything with an on-off switch” to be on. That was Vito Dumas’ Alone Through the Roaring Forties, a good read for someone doing a little tame sailing in the Sea of Cortez. He went around the world single handled in the “wrong direction” (West to East) around all three fearsome southern capes, usually at forty degrees south latitude.

While still in the US, I loaded Kindle with The Immaculate Deception by Iain Pears, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin, and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  Only read the first two so Kite Runner was backup.

The reading experience was very similar to reading a paperback: better in some ways because, if you leave Kindle next to your plate and use your hands to eat, it doesn’t spring closed like a paperback wants to. The pages (at a typesize I can read) have less words on them than a book and there’s a slight pause and flicker at page turn which takes a little getting used to, not much though. The design is flawed in having active controls three-quarters of the way down both sides of the case: it’s almost impossible to avoid accidental page turn in one direction or the other – especially when using the cursor or trying to turn Kindle off. BTW, when you turn Kindle back on, it knows what page you were reading.

My crew was in to word games and Kindle’s onboard copy of The New Oxford American Dictionary was invaluable in solving disputes which would have been tough otherwise with no way to access wiktionary.

Other Kindle posts on FOC:

Kindle – Web Browsing Reviewed

Kindle – Book Reader’s Review

Kindle – Free Internet Browsing for Just $400

Kindle – Shape of the Web to Come?

Kindle – Reader Questions and Comments

Happy Hour

Next Tuesday, Feb 5th, I'll be a guest on the Happy Hour show hosted by my friend Cody Willard (2d from left). The show is on FoxBusiness Network every weekday from 5 to 6 PM; appropriately, it's broadcast from the Bull and Bear Bar in the Waldorf Astoria. Below is an episode from last week.

Note: If you can't see the video below, link here.

Even if your local cable or satellite network doesn't carry Fox Business (DirecTV channel is 359, not on Dish) all segments from the show are available as video at www.foxbusiness.com. Trick is to go there, click on VIDEO in the horizontal menu bar, then scroll down to the Search for Videos box in the middle of the new page (don't use the search box at the top of the page), enter "Happy Hour", and click Search.  Each segment (guest) of each Happy Hour show is then accessible. Since it's broadcast live (and then, again, at 11 PM) the segment obviously won't be on the web until after it appears on the air but they do seem to go up almost immediately after they happen.

Don't know quite what we'll talk about but Cody is good at making almost anything fun and puncturing pomposity in guests. Hope you'll join us on TV or on the Web. BTW, you can rate the segment on the web. If you come to the bar, we can have a drink and you can tell me how I did in person.

America’s Creation as a Secular Republic – Long May It Stand

While on tour for his Pulitzer-Prize-winning Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, Joseph J. Ellis often heard variants of the question “Why must we choose between Al Gore and George W. Bush, whereas American voters two hundred years ago could choose between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson?” According to its foreword, he wrote American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies At The Founding of The Republic to answer the question “how did the American founding happen?” given that the founders were neither saints nor demigods.

The book tells the stories of what Ellis believes were the triumphs and failures of the founders. Literally, Ellis recounts these historic events as stories so that he can illuminate the characters of the founders who sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed but “somehow managed to establish a set of ideas and institutions that, over the stretch of time, became the blueprint for political and economic success for the nation-state in the modern world. ... representative government bottomed on the principal of popular sovereignty, a market economy fueled by the energies of unfettered citizens, a secular state unaffiliated with any official religion [emphasis mine], and the rule of law that presumed the equality of all citizens. What seemed so improbable at the time has become the accepted global formula for national success. The only alternative, apart from North Korea’s and Cuba’s last-stand versions of communism is Islamic fundamentalism. And its essentially medieval values appear to be fighting a desperate rearguard action against modernity itself.”

Ellis doesn’t give a definitive answer to his question. Among the possible answers, he quotes George Washington: “the foundation of our Empire was not laid in the gloomy age of Ignorance and Suspicion but an Epoch when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period. At this auspicious period, the United States came into existence as a Nation, and if their Citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be intirely their own.” In other words, as Ellis explained, the Enlightenment had happened and the founders were Enlightenment men (and at least Abigail Adams was certainly an Enlightenment woman).

The founders were not religious– far from it. Jefferson said that men were endowed by “their creator” with “certain inalienable rights” but he was deliberately vague as to who or what that creator might be. They were not as radical as Thomas Paine who “believed that a society of genuine equality and justice would materialize naturally once the last king was strangled with the entrails of the last priest” but they “created the first wholly secular state…[at a time when] it was broadly assumed that shared religious convictions were the primary basis for the common values that linked together the people of any community…” They did their best to make sure the new republic would be ruled by neither kings nor priests nor, worst of all, the combination of the two.

Ellis’ book is about much more than the secularism of the republic which the founders created. In fact, because a secular republic was one of the very few things they actually agreed on, it doesn’t get much attention in the book besides the phrases I’ve quoted. However, I think that this separation of church and state and the prohibition of a state religion were essential to success then and, more to the point, are essential to our success now.

Almost as if by induction, the rise of religious fundamentalism in one society or country seems to give rise to fundamentalism in other societies and countries as well. As a liberal in the sense the founders used the word, I can’t be in favor of denying other people, even fundamentalists, their religious beliefs – but do face the liberal conundrum that, when fundamentalists of almost any stripe get what they want, among the first casualties are liberal beliefs and, not far behind that, those who hold them.

It sounds like prejudice, it may be a prejudice, but I won’t vote for the likable Mike Huckabee BECAUSE he was a Baptist Minister. I also wouldn’t vote for a priest, rabbi (I’m ethnically Jewish) , or inman. It’s way too dangerous to let church and state get intertwined; it’s way too dangerous to have leaders who have even the faintest suspicion that they get their orders directly from God (whatever god). Too much horror and too much terror have been committed on the orders of “God” (as interpreted by his priests).

Chinese and Eastern European communism proved that Thomas Paine was wrong: you don’t need priests to have a tyranny; Karl Marx to the contrary, religion is not the only opiate of the masses.

But religion has no place in politics. That was one of the things, one of the most important things, the founders got right. We can’t let the dangerous political power of Islamic fundamentalism draw us into remingling church and state or giving political power to our own fundamentalists. If we do, the fault will be “intirely” our own.

Kindle – Book Reader’s Review

Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader came and got buried among the holiday packages. But it emerged from post-holiday pile of cardboard, wrapping paper, and ribbons. Since we were planning a three day trip, it was a good time for a road test.

Not surprisingly, there is no access to the Sprint network – the network which underlies Amazon’ WhisperNet - in ruralVermont so couldn’t download any books before leaving home. Contented myself with reading the introduction already loaded onto Kindle and with practice page-turning.

The electronic ink IS amazing. As you “turn” each page by pressing a next page bar on the side of the unit, there’s a flicker as the ink drops rush from their old positions to their new ones. Reminds me of the Harvard University Marching Band which, in my day, eschewed marching; a pistol was fired and each player ran from his current location to wherever he was supposed to be in the next formation.

Once the ink drops reassemble, the look is much more like good ink on good paper than dots on a screen. You read by reflected light; no light comes from the screen – just like a “real” book.  Better in some ways because you can change the font size on Kindle to suit your eyes. Black ink on a white screen is the only option – just like the first Macintosh.

This architecture not only makes Kindle pages very readable, it also prolongs battery life since there is no backlight and energy is only required to move the dots, not to keep them in position.

Kindle travels in a felt covered case about the size of a paperback and clearly designed to say “book”. Only quibble is that there’s nowhere for the Kindle charger in the case so it goes with the rest of the tangle of wires in your computer bag.

At Burlington airport Sprint was four bars and, immediately, my novel hackoff.com:an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble and Fractals of Changeboth of which I’d ordered when I ordered Kindle – downloaded. Whole download took no more than a minute or so. Note excellent Amazon customer experience: didn’t have to register because Amazon knew I’d bought the unit; didn’t have to register for the Sprint service because it comes with the unit; didn’t have to ask for what I’d already ordered to be downloaded. Got a nice thank you letter from Jeff Bezos, too. Device can hold 200 books BEFORE you add expansion memory AND everything you buy is archived forever at Amazon for redownload in case you lose or have to delete some.

I looked for books for the trip in the Kindle Store, which is never more than a click away. Naturally Amazon’s suggestions based on my past orders and promotional fees paid my publishers were there just as if I’d been on my computer. I downloaded Weak Links: Stabilizers of Complex Systems from Proteins to Social Networks and, once I noticed that I had the option to do this free, the first chapter of No Country for Old Men.

Weak Links appears not to have been formatted correctly for an electronic edition (more on this when I post on implications for authors). Some of the letters are incomplete; there are spaces in the middle of words and hyphenation in the middle of lines. I wrote Amazon and asked for a refund (book content seems interesting though). Update: Amazon responded to my email to customer service within 24 hours, verified what I saw, apologized, and gave me a credit

No Country formatted well and was a pleasant reading experience except that the pages are a little smaller than those of a paperback, the lines a little short for the way I read, and the flicker at page turn a little distracting. My guess is these are all things readers’ll get over quickly and we’ll retrain ourselves. Decided not to order the book based on its style but that’s a plus for the first chapter free policy.

Noticed that all three books on my Kindle opened in strange places when first accessed although it’s easy enough to get back to the cover or table of contents. I suspect this is a problem in book prep seeing how much trouble I had with this when preparing the e-book edition of hackoff.com. Still annoying.

Reading Fractals of Change as a paid subscription ($.99/month) was a good experience on Kindle. Formatting was right; color pictures rendered well into black, white, and grey; links were live. However, reading Fractals and other things in the browser (which provides FREE Internet access), is problematic. See this post for a review of Kindle’s browser for more on that and even more in an upcoming author’s post.

The flight attendants say “the cabin door is closed. Please turn off all devices with an on-off switch. We will tell you when it’s safe to turn on approved electronics.” Of course this means that you have to carry at least a magazine to read during taxi, takeoffs, and landings. Else you might find yourself talking to the person next to you.

Kindle does have a simple switch to turn off its radio for use aloft where radios are forbidden.

I give it a B+ as a book reader based on initial experience.

Now on Kindle!

hackoff.com: An historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble

CEO Tom Evslin's insider account of the Internet bubble and its aftermath. "This novel is a surveillance video of the seeds of the current economic collapse."

The Interpreter's Tale

Hacker Dom Montain is in Barcelona in Evslin's Kindle-edition long short story. Why? and why are the pickpockets stealing mobile phones?

Need A Kindle?

Kindle: Amazon's Wireless Reading Device

Not quite as good as a real book IMHO but a lot lighter than a trip worth of books. Also better than a cell phone for mobile web access - and that's free!

Recent Reads - Click title to order from Amazon


  • adlinks
  • adsense