Thursday, September 27, 2007

The State of Book Sales -- September, 2007

I always get a kick out of numbers – I have gigabytes of spreadsheets on my machine. So it is natural that I regularly check everything from the analytics on my sites to the Nielsen ratings (both tv and books).

On Wednesdays I make it a point to check the Nielsen Bookscan numbers to see what is selling out there. I think that the Nielsen numbers are actually more representative of what “everybody” is reading than the New York Times.

Which brings me to yesterday's list.

The best selling book last week was Alan Greenspan's THE AGE OF TURBULENCE with sales of over 128,000 copies.

Second and third places go to IF I DID IT by O. J. Simpson and Bill Clinton's GIVING. OJ’s book sold almost 33,000 for a total of 43,000 copies since it was released. Clinton’s book fell off to only 19,000 copies which brings the total copies sold (so far) to just over 100,000.

When asked about the drop in sales for Bill Clinton’s book, Knopf spokesman Paul Bogaards said that "when the president is out there talking about the book is when we're seeing the greatest response. He's the key to driving sales . . .” I find it somehow reassuring that even Bill Clinton has to slog through tours and signing to sell his books.

So there it is – the book sales review. I can’t help but wonder what it says about American culture that the top three sellers come from an egghead economist, a wife abusing murderer and an adulterous former president.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

eBooks by Request 9-26-07

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These are the titles and authors that you requested. I must say, y'all have great taste in books.
To get your 10% discount use coupon GHB01X at checkout.
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Dave Barry's History of the Millennium eBook Edition
by: Barry, Dave
Thucydides, Gibbon, Tuchman, McCullough-to the names of the world's great historians must now be added the name of Dave Barry, who has taken a long, hard look at our new millennium (so far) and, when he stopped hyperventilating, has written it all down, because nobody would believe it otherwise.. .Liberally illustrated with line drawings, filled with facts and commentary that will amaze your friends and confound your enemies (yes, we mean you, Osama!), this is the book that will finally earn Dave Barry his second Pulitzer Prize. And about darned time, too.
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List Price : 22.95
Your price 17.66 (Using your 10% discount and $.931 in eBook Reward points)

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Heart of Texas eBook Edition
by: Macomber, Debbie
"Debbie Macomber writes stories as grand as Texas itself." This is the first in the Heart of Texax series which is sure to give you hours of escape. These are darn good yarns -- start with Volume One and Keep on Reading. Different authors, different stories with that special Texas flavor. "The stories capture you because each woman is just so darn . . . well, human."
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List Price : $12.55
Your price $10.73 (Using your 10% discount and $ .56 in eBook Reward points)

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Leading at a Higher Level: eBook Edition
by: Blanchard, Kenneth
From the Author of The One Minute Manager® and his colleagues. Leading at a Higher Level: Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations brings together all they've learned about world-class leadership. You'll discover how to create targets and visions based on the "triple bottom line"...and make sure people know who you are, where you're going, and the values that will guide your journey
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List Price : 19.99
Your price $17.09 (Using your 10% discount and $ .90 in eBook Reward points)

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Song Without Words eBook Edition
by: Packer, Ann
A journey into a lifelong friendship pushed to the breaking point. Expertly, with the keen introspection and psychological nuance that are her hallmarks, she explores what happens when there are inequities between friends and when the hard-won balances of a long relationship are disturbed, perhaps irreparably, by a harrowing crisis.
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List Price : $17.95
Your price $15.35 (Using your 10% discount and $ .81 in eBook Reward points)

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Letters From Nuremberg eBook Edition
by: Bloom, Lary, Dodd, Christopher
The content of LETTERS FROM NUREMBERG represents an insightful, very personal perspective into the daily workings of the Nuremberg trials. Senator Chris Dood skillfully extrapolates this historic chapter of European history from the loving correspondence between his father, abroad in a war-torn land, and his mother, coping with the demands of a young family remaining at home. Timely and important!
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List Price : $17.95
Your price $13.82 (Using your 10% discount and $.75 in eBook Reward points)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reading eBooks on a cell phone

You know you’re getting old when you have CSS disease. Evidently your eye sight is the first (or maybe second) thing to go. If you are squinting at the newspaper, frowning over your computer screen or cussing because you can’t see the incoming calls on the cell phone, you know you have it (CSS).

So it was a big blow to me to find out that the sale of eBooks for mobile phones reached $58 million last year in Japan. I can’t even see mine without serious tilting and maneuvering. I guess I am officially old.

Last year a representative from Mobipocket told me that in Europe they sell more eBooks for Nokia phones than for any other single Platform. I just laughed and said I wouldn’t be doing that anytime soon. But it looks like I am rapidly become a minority.

Think about it. The Japanese bought 3x more eBooks for their cell phones than the entire amount of books sold in the US on all platforms. Here is irrefutable evidence that yes, I am getting old. Or there are an awful lot of young people in Japan and Europe.

It seems like a whole lot of people, everywhere except in the US are reading eBooks on their cell phones. Not iPhones, but everyday Nokia, Samsung and Motorola cell phones. So I have been puzzling this out all weekend. Why are phones such popular reading devices everywhere but here?

Is it about eBook price? Probably not -- eBooks are not that much cheaper than paper books these days. Maybe it’s a space thing? After all, most people in the world live in much smaller quarters than we Americans and they may not have the room to store a lot of print books. Seems pretty far fetched.

What I keep coming back to is that this has to be some sort of cultural thing—an attitude about functionality. Do other societies place a high value on using what you have as fully as you can, even if it isn’t perfect? Perhaps people in these other countries see multiple devices an unnecessary or unattainable luxury. They just accept the idea that there are many possible ways to use a device and do not expect something new or different to make things easier.

This is a very different mind set than what we Americans have developed in modern times. We are the nation who believes that “he who has the most toys wins.” Americans are the ultimate specialized society -- we expect to have different devices and tools for different functions. What an embarrassment of riches!

I love what one American economic analyst says, "I am pessimistic that [reading books] will generate significant revenue on mobile phones. . . If that content is available in other mediums, those experiences will be much better just because the [mobile phone] screen is small and the functionality is clumsy."

Implicit in this statement in the idea that since content is available in other mediums that people will, of course, spend the money to purchase them. He is probably right. I know quite a few people (myself included) who own a laptop, a PDA, a cell phone, an Ipod and/or another MP3 player. And now Sony, Amazon and Hewlett Packard (to name a few) want us all to add an eBook reader to the mix.

Of course it could be a much simpler explanation -- cell phone technology and acceptance is much more advanced in Eurpoe and Japan than it is here. Which means people are more accustomed to using thier cell phones for everything. Who knows!

No matter the reason, I will be interested to see what happens if the trend for cultures to become more “Americanized” continues. In the meantime, of course, day now I will be adding a new eBook reader to my collection of electronic gadgets. All in the pursuit of a remedy for my CSS.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Song Without Words - eBook review

Let me say right up front, that I know this is a novel about suicide and friendship. And yes, it is about adultery, lamps and teenage angst. But what makes this books special and noteworthy is the intimate portrayal of a family under stress.

What happens when the perfect daughter in the perfect family wakes up one day and tries to kill herself? How do parents walk through the guilt? How does the other, now neglected, sibling retain his equilibrium and keep on? What do Grandparents and friends do as they standby helplessly watching the pain in the people they love? What do employers and acquaintances say to offer support? How does your child ever make it back into the real world of school and friendships?

The title, Songs Without Words, refers to the feelings we have but can't understand or find words for--possibly because no words exist. In this novel, however, Packer finds the words to talk about a topic that most of us find almost impossible to talk about: suicide and it’s impact on a family and their friends. And at it’s core is a detailed and excruciating study of the awful loneliness of a family in crisis, questioning all their assumptions about every close relationship they have.

By all rights this should be a depressing and awful book to read. It is not! Curiously, it is a story of hope and redemption and the resiliency of the human spirit. It is a celebration of love, optimism and the ties that bind and heal us.

Highly recommended!

Here is the official stuff:

Ann Packer’s debut novel, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, was a nationwide best seller that established her as one of our most gifted chroniclers of the interior lives of women. Now,in her long-awaited second novel, she takes us on a journey into a lifelong friendship pushed to the breaking point. Expertly, with the keen introspection and psychological nuance that are her hallmarks, she explores what happens when there are inequities between friends and when the hard-won balances of a long relationship are disturbed, perhaps irreparably, by a harrowing crisis.

Liz and Sarabeth were childhood neighbors in the suburbs of northern California, brought as close as sisters by the suicide of Sarabeth’s mother when the girls were just sixteen. In the decades that followed—through Liz’s marriage and the birth of her children, through Sarabeth’s attempts to make a happy life for herself despite the shadow cast by her mother’s act—their relationship remained a source of continuity and strength. But when Liz’s adolescent daughter enters dangerous waters that threaten to engulf the family, the fault lines in the women’s friendship are revealed, and both Liz and Sarabeth are forced to reexamine their most deeply held beliefs about their connection. Songs Without Words is about the sometimes confining roles we take on in our closest relationships, about the familial myths that shape us both as children and as parents, and about the limits—and the power—of the friendships we create when we are young.

Once again, Ann Packer has written a novel of singular force and complexity: thoughtful, moving, and absolutely gripping, it more than confirms her prodigious literary gifts.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Is it literature?

After my post yesterday, I stumbled across this YouTube video that made me laugh out loud!

This is a great parody on the old commercials where Taster's Choice was substituted for premium coffee in a fine dining establishment.

A very clever commerical for Maynard & Jennica! The burning question, however, remains: Is it literature?"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So why is the New York Times Best Seller List Being Revamped?

I hate it when elitism is used as a guise for crass commercialism. I am a great believer in point blank crass commercialism. Here: Go buy eBooks (any eBooks) at my store now!

I object, loudly, to being discriminated against because I am a Westerner who loves reading paperbacks. And I really hate it being placated with great sounding rationalization. Case in point: The New York Times Book Review section.

The New York Times Reviewers love to look down that their noses at us, the unwashed masses, and our taste in books. They especially despise common people like my friends and I. We don’t discuss War and Peace or pass around copies of Ethan Fromm. We are unabashed consumers of chick lit and thrillers.

We may be a little light on class (we've been known to buy books at Costco, WalMart and the grocery store!) but believe it or not, we are all capable of detailed literary analysis and critical thinking. . .but I digress.

Back to the New York Times: starting next week The New York Times Book Review will be expanded to three separate fiction lists: the vulnerable hardback list, the standard mass market paperbacks list and a brand new category--trade paper (the larger, more expensive versions).

The reason for the change?

According to Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the Book Review, it is because “now you have a list that corresponds closely to what we review in the section and what we gauge our readers are interested in.” Huh?

Aside from the fact he ends the sentence with a preposition, there is a fundamental flaw in that sentence. He seems to think that the Book Review is a bastion of intellectual light and literary taste that can only be appreciated by the sophisticated, educated, literary, rich, East Coast intellectual. People like me, common middle class (Western) readers who love books don’t count. It is now unclear to me why I am bothering with it at all; maybe it's because I like the pictures.

I ask you, is the hardback edition of the latest Nora Robert’s title somehow more cerebral than a paperback or even eBook edition?

All of those words to obfuscate the real deal: The New York Times is more than willing to lose a page of excellent literary review and criticism to create space for more ad revenue.

Ad revenue I understand – I don't know anyone who is against revenue! Not very erudite or cultured, but honest. But we do understand it. So why doesn't Sam just say so??

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

eBooks by Request for 9-19-2007

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Each week we compile a list of the most searched for title and offer them at special discounted prices. Use coupon code G94WQ at check out!
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The New Messiah eBook Edition
by: Biskar, Daniel
The New Messiah is a novel of personal discovery set in the 1970's. Neal Shelley is an idealistic poet who falls in love with a woman he meets while hitchhiking across America during the Bicentennial summer of 1976. But despite the storybook beginning, the love affair soon fades and Neal is left disillusioned and searching for answers in his life.
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List Price : $6.00
Your price $5.13 (Using your 10% discount and $.27 in eBook Reward points)

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The Devil Who Tamed Her eBook Edition
by: Lindsey, Johanna
A sparkling, passionate Regency-era novel in which a beautiful but ruthless gossip meets her match in a dashing rake who sets out to change her wicked ways. Featuring two enthralling characters from the unforgettable bestseller The Heir, The Devil Who Tamed Her is a spirited new tale about the transforming power of true love.
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List Price : $16.99
Your price $14.53 (Using your 10% discount and $.76 in eBook Reward points)

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Last Night I Dreamed of Peace eBook Edition
by: Tram, Dang Thuy
At the age of twenty-four, Dang Thuy Tram volunteered to serve as a doctor in a National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) battlefield hospital in the Quang Ngai Province. Two years later she was killed by American forces not far from where she worked. Written between 1968 and 1970, her diary speaks poignantly of her devotion to family and friends, the horrors of war, her yearning for her high school sweetheart, and her struggle to prove her loyalty to her country.
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List Price : $17.95
Your price $13.82 (Using your 10% discount and $.73 in eBook Reward points)
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Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon eBook Edition
by: Keillor, Garrison
A fresh and funny Lake Wobegon novel about a woman with a secret life... Evelyn was a Sanctified Brethren woman of good standing, a devoted mother, a serious quilter. Only after she dies in her sleep, as she always wished she would, do we find out that she has been living a secret life. For years she has been in love with Raoul,. . .
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List Price : $25.95
Your price $19.97 (Using your 10% discount and $1.05 in eBook Reward points)

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Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush eBook Edition
by: Draper, Robert
Draper has achieved what no other journalist or contemporary historian has done thus far: he has told the story of the Bush White House from the inside, with a special emphasis on how the very personality of this strong-willed president has affected the outcome of events. Bush loyalists and the growing number of Bush detractors will all find much to savor in this riveting political page-turner.
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List Price : $list5
Your price $14.53 (Using your 10% discount and $.76 in eBook Reward points)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Readers are the winners with the new IDPF eBook open standards

This is a first – the first in a series of blog articles written by Gigi’s friends, associates and the eBooks About staff. Contributors are welcome –please contact Gigi with ideas, articles and comments! I want your participation! This piece is by FOG (friend of Gigi) Karsten Molinaro. Check his profile!

eBook formats have always been confusing, and a sore point for eBook buyers. Other than Adobe PDF, there has never been anything remotely close to an industry standard eBook format.

I know of at least 20 mutually incompatible, propriety formats that have been used over the years, many of which are now defunct! The losers, of course, are eBook buyers who find the eBook they bought yesterday can no longer be read today, while paper books are timeless.

Adobe PDF

PDF is the most recognized "defacto open" format for eBooks. The problem is that anyone who wants to read a PDF document on screen displays (desktops and handheld devices) often finds that PDF is very limiting, and even frustrating.

PDF was developed to preserve formatting and make electronic documents look exactly like paper ones. It does this by "hard wiring" the text onto a fixed size page. Great for printing.

But what if the electronic display is of a much different size than the page (usually much smaller), which is oftentimes the case? And what if the end-user would like to adjust typography like the font size and the font itself, and have the content "retypeset" in an optimal way? With PDF this can't realistically be done.

The need for the format to "reflow" the text is an important one for eBook users. Is there such a reflowable, permanent, open standard that the eBook industry may embrace? One which is designed to provide for the important needs of both publishers and end-users?

EPUB to the Rescue

Fortunately, there finally is! The new International Digital Publishing Forum’s (IDPF), “EPUB standard”. The IDPF represents a wide range of stakeholders in the eBook industry and has recently released a set of fully open industry standards which underly EPUB. I'm proud to have been one of the primary technical contributors to this major effort.

EPUB, based upon well-developed open standards, including those used for web pages, now provides for the important needs of both publishers and eBook readers: permanence, open standards, reflowability, accessibility, and high typographic quality. The ultimate winners of this new standard will be you, the eBook reader.

Many publishers are eagerly embracing the EPUB standard, and are now reformatting their content in the new format. Even Adobe recognizes the limitation of PDF for eBook use. They have been a major player in the development of the new IDPF standards. In fact they have already released Digital Editions, which displays EPUB eBooks.

The Future

Admittedly, the copy protection (DRM) side of EPUB has yet to be shaken out. But we expect to see a large number of unencumbered EPUB eBooks released, and believe that the eBook industry will eventually forego the use encryption for most books, which is where we see the music industry now headed.

So when do we see EPUB eBooks being sold through eBooks About Everything?

No one can really know, yet. What we do know that the industry is quickly moving in that direction, and we hope that eBooks About will be able to offer EPUB titles in the near future. Gigi will most certainly let you know when it happens!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Accidental Mother

It was the title, The Accidental Mother, that grabbed me but the synopsis sealed the deal. The story of a career woman whose world is turned upside down when she becomes an instant mother is a plot that has been done to death in movies. Somehow it is always an engaging plotline. In this novel Rowan Coleman has flushed out the plot with very real and engaging characters and enough twists to keep me reading.

Sophie has managed her life brilliantly – she has a great career, is on the brink of a promotion, owns a meticulously decorated flat with her cat (Artemis) and has collected fabulous (and expensive) party dresses and shoes. She is extremely good at many things and has always said that “when she discovered her limitations she’d be happy to admit them.”

Bella and Izzy, her two accidental children, suddenly bring her biggest limitations into focus: primarily, her lack of emotional attachments – romantic or otherwise. Sophie lives a neat, self-contained physical and emotional life. She is about to receive a crash course in the messy world of human relationships.

The story chronicles Sophie’s journey as she assumes the temporary custody of Bella (6) and Izzy (3). The children are a strange mixture of insecure, brave, polite, bratty, withdrawn, boisterous, imaginative, tough and vulnerable. Coleman does a wonderful job of capturing the fragility and resilience of these two traumatized children. They are the real stars of this tale.

Sophie’s attempt to maintain her normal work life while struggling to share space with messy children, cook healthy kid-friendly meals and locate their father is sharply drawn. Her predictably fumbling attempts are funny even while you feel her bewilderment and anxiety! Possibly her best advice on how to cope comes from her own Mother in the form of a book: “Dr. Roberts Complete Dog Training and Care Manual.

The heart of the story is the deepening relationship between Sophie and the girls. Since her time as guardian is supposed to short, she tries to limit her connection to a serviceable and surface involvement. In a moment of desperation, however, Sophie draws upon her own experiences (the ones she has tried to bury) and begins to build a delicate bond of trust and a real relationship. When she realizes that she has actually fallen in love with Bella and Izzy no one is more surprised than she!

Yes, it is chick lit but more substantial than most and has important things to say about love, loss, responsibility and exploring one’s own limits. The end is predictable but the journey made me laugh and cry. Very enjoyable!

Here is the official stuff:

What do you do when you are a child's last hope?

From bestselling author Rowan Coleman comes a deeply touching tale of a fast-track career woman whoselife takes a sharp right turn when motherhood unexpectedly lands in her lap.

Sophie and Carrie were childhood best friends, but in the last few years they've lost touch. While Carrie chose motherhood in a small town, Sophie is powering up the London career track. She's a corporate manager poised for her next promotion. Sure, she doesn't have much time for men, but she has a great shoe collection and a cat who's never going to let her down.

And then Sophie is told that Carrie has died, with nobody left to care for her two daughters, Bella and Izzy, aged six and three. Their father, who left before Carrie's death, is nowhere to be found; their grandmother is moving into assisted living. Sophie once promised Carrie she would take care of her children if the worst ever happened...and now that day has come.

Witty, wise, and filled with genuinely powerful emotion, The Accidental Mother is the heartwarming, heartbreaking story of a woman who is woefully under-quipped to be suddenly thrown into motherhood, but who through the eyes of two little girls learns more about loss, commitment, and true love than she had ever realized existed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

eBooks in Schools

The Stamford Advocate has a great piece about eBooks in schools; specifically about a test program using Sony eBooks at the Bi-Cultural Day School.

Instead of lugging a huge back pack of books these students have one small book loaded with all of the material they need. Sony provided the school with 25 readers. And Pat Seldin, director of technology at the school, says that the school plans to download books for the readers to fit certain grades' curriculums.

Bi-Cultural Day School Headmaster Gerald Kirshenbaum said e-book readers may find a place in the classroom as they appeal to a generation growing up with technology. "We're pushing books, and sometimes we don't always get takers," he said. "This is an exciting, imaginative and enticing piece of equipment that will get to our goal of increasing their love of literature."

This piece makes me very happy! And not just because I sell eBooks. But also as a concerned parent. I watched my kids haul around a bulging backpack. Thier school had taken all the lockers out; evidently as a way to fight drugs. I do wonder about that particular piece of logic, but never mind. The point is that it made my back ache just to see them struggling with that huge, heavy load! Admitedly rolling cases allieviate that problem, but they are cumbersome and inconvenient.

Add this hassle to that the cost of text books and eBooks in the class room look like a natural. Presumably eBook text books will be cheaper than printed books which would be a great benefit!

Not so quick! Text book publishers, professors and college bookstores all have a large vested interest in maintaining the status quo. I suspect that only consumer pressure will ultimately make them grudgingly change over.

Anyone want to start a consumer advocate group?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

By popular request - 09/12/2007

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By popular request -- these are the most searched for books in the eBooks About stores. Use coupon code WTSW3 at check out and save money on each of these titles!
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Wheel of Darkness eBook Edition
by: Preston, Douglas J., Child, Lincoln
Diogenes, Pendergast's brother, is dead. Constance, pregnant with his child, was his killer. Things are tough all over. Pendergast has taken Constance on a whirlwind tour hoping to give her a sense of the world that she was missing cooped up in the mansion on Riverside Drive. Now, they head to Tibet, where Pendergast did some of his most intensive martial arts and spiritual studies.
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List Price : $17.99
Your price $13.84 (Using your 10% discount and $.73 in eBook Reward points)
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Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself eBook Edition
by: Alda, Allan
On the heels of his acclaimed memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed. . .This an insightful and funny look at some of the impossible questions he’s asked himself over the years: What do I value? What, exactly, is the good life? (And what does that even mean?). Picking up where his bestselling memoir left off–having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile–Alda finds himself not only glad to be alive but searching for a way to squeeze the most juice out of his new life.
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List Price : $17.95
Your price $13.82 (Using your 10% discount and $.73 in eBook Reward points)
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Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, eBook Edition
by: Quinn, Julia
At the age of ten, Miranda Cheever showed no signs of Great Beauty. And even at ten, Miranda learned to accept the expectations society held for her—until the afternoon when Nigel Bevelstoke, the handsome and dashing Viscount Turner, solemnly kissed her hand and promised her that one day she would grow into herself, that one day she would be as beautiful as she already was smart. And even at ten, Miranda knew she would love him forever.
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List Price : $7.99
Your price $6.83 (Using your 10% discount and $.36 in eBook Reward points)
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Wireless A to Z eBook Edition
by: Muller, Nathan
Network Essentials guides consist of 100 3-5 page articles, heavily illustrated, covering the basic concepts, technologies, standards and protocols – everything you need to master the field. Wireless A to Z covers the key concepts and technologies of wireless and mobile communications. From traditional topics like CDMA and signal hand-offs to cutting edge mobile applications like WiFi and Bluetooth, this is a precise – and concise – quick look up reference to the industry
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List Price : $29.95
Your price $28.45 (Using your 10% discount and $1.35 in eBook Reward points)
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Warriors #1: Into the Wild eBook Edition
by: Hunter, Erin
Rusty starts out as an ordinary house kitten, but his travels deep into the forest involve him in the epic battles of the cat warrior clans who roam (and rule) the wild. With a new name–Firepaw–and a position as a Thunderclan apprentice, our feline hero faces his destiny, struggles with issues of friendship, honor, courage, and betrayal, and learns what it truly means to be a warrior.
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List Price : $6.99
Your price $5.38 (Using your 10% discount and $.28 in eBook Reward points)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The 4-Hour Workweek (eBook)

The 4-Hour Workweek is an example of the kind of book I love to hate. At first glance it seems to be in the category of books like The Secret – lots of hype and nothing new (or really very interesting). And then there is Tim Ferris. A rather flamboyant character in his own right: entrepreneur, kickboxer, cage fighter, inspirational speaker and dancer, who has packed a lot of life into his 29 years. Against my better judgment I invested in a copy anyway.

The book is a pleasant surprise! Tim has an engaging and conversational writing style which makes the book fun to listen to or read. The case studies are well chosen and interesting. Tim presents some fascinating time management idea and helpful travel tips.

Because I do most of my research on my laptop, I ended up with a Mobipocket copy to use both on my Palm and on my laptop. This way I can annotate and cross reference the “Tools and Tricks” sections. It is worth buying the books specifically for these sections even if you don’t read another word.

Even though most reviewers (and the author, himself) maintain that this book is for everyone, I am not so sure. There are several reasons I can think of why many would consider his ideas fantastical and over the top.

The reviewers and Tim are correct, however, in so much as this book is a great reminder about what is really important in life.

Most Americans are truly over-informed, overworked and underpaid. This is a complicated society and most of us badly need to examine our priorities and simplify our lives. The 4-Hour Workweek has inspired me to do just that.

Any book which gets me to think more creatively has intrinsic value. So, against all odds, I am recommending this book.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Amazon eReader and Google Book Search

Last week the New York Times had a long article on Amazon and Google. Seems both companies have a big interest in digital reading. Their approach to digital reading has nothing in common, except that, neither one expects to create a significant revenue stream from it in the short run. Their approaches are an interesting window into today’s world of electronic reading.

Amazon is reportedly taking a gamble on a new e-reading device, the Kindle, complete with wireless connection, keyboard and e-Ink screen. Google, on the other hand, is eschewing the reader and focusing on content.

Amazon’s “revolutionary” feature is the ability to download directly from the Web (no intermediate computer needed). I am still shaking my head in disbelief! After all, any smart phone has been able to do this for years. And when you think it can’t get weirder, you find out that this "revolutionary" web-connected device is unable to produce color or handle animated images.

Google continues to focus on aggregating content. Now, however, they want to start charging you for it. Soon Google Book Searcher users will be able to open a book and read a segment of it for a small fee. The owner of the content will receive some type of revenue sharing. In other words every time someone uses a device (computer, smart phone, eReader or PDA) to open a book and read even 1 page, the owner receives a little dough. Since Google reaches about 25% of all internet users in any given day this could add up to a lot of cash for publishers and authors.

Amazon will present their titles in Mobipocket format, while Google offers most of the Book Search titles in Adobe PDF (digital editions) format.

Amazon has been building a device while Google has been busy digitizing books that can be read on just about any device.

The two approaches really do highlight everything that is wrong with commercial digital content and the eBook market. Here are two giant companies with different approaches to digital reading and neither one of them will make a dent in the real problem.

They don’t get it! The consumer (you and I) is drowning in a flood of words and information: email, newspapers, newsletters, RSS feeds, magazines and books are coming out our ears. We don’t need or want every book every book ever written in digital form. A lot of them weren’t any good on paper in the first place!

We want and need a common sense way to access, utilize and organize the information we have!

Ultimately, the winners in the digital reading derby will not be the maker of a device or the aggregator of content. They will be the companies that focus on what the consumer needs – making the right content visible, accessible and usable.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Publishing, the First Amendment and Excruciatingly Bad Taste

So here’s my guilty secret: I have been surreptitiously following the saga of O J Simpson and If I Did It.

First, Harper Collins (under the editorship of Judith Regan) was going to publish it. Then they weren’t. The Brown and Goldman families sued to stop it and ultimately it was used as an excuse to fire Judith Regan. Then the Goldman family decided to go ahead and publish it – over the Brown family’s objections. A bunch of booksellers declared they would not sell it. . . Now they are going to.

Please note, I am leaving out all the parts about pirated copies, the boycott movement, the law suit, the Arnelle Simpson factor, the Goldman family explanation of why they want to publish this book, the current Brown/Goldman feud.

Never mind that this whole thing is an exercise in excruciatingly bad taste; it is still great theater with much sound and fury.

My biggest source of entertainment has come from listening to the tortured logic of all parties involved: ‘You know, it is a confession’; ‘it will help battered women’; ‘it finally tells the truth’; it ________ (you fill in the blank since evidently, any excuse will do).

But seriously, if you ever wonder about the human capacity for hypocrisy -- this is a wonderful case study. The range of reactions is a great window into the American psyche and the point at which expressed values and money intersect. :

  • Initially, there was a public outcry against this book even as it rose to the number one position on Amazon’s presales lists
  • No one wanted it published, but thousands of people wanted to see the pirated copy on BitTorent (took their server down). If you are interested, you can still get a pirated copy (just for the record, I have restrained myself – so far)
  • The Goldman family wanted this book stopped until they figured out how to make money from it. How disgusting is that!?
  • The Brown family contents that this book will hurt the Simpson children. Like they don’t know what happened?
  • Barnes and Nobles took the high road and decided not to sell the book.
  • Then decided to sell it online but not in the store
  • Now, Barnes and Nobles is pleased to join Amazon and Borders in selling this book online and in the store.

I am not exactly in a position to get on my moral high horse here. This very post shows that I have been as titillated as anyone.

My fill in the blank?

Well, it’s all about the first amendment and the right to free speech. (Pretty intellectual, huh?)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

10% Discount on the eBooks you asked for

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These are the most requested books in the last two weeks. You will notice that 2 of them are only available in Mobipocket format. This is a great opportunity to try this exciting format -- it pretty much works on every device. Look for other Mobipocket titles; you'll be sure to enjoy.

Use coupon code G9C8X at checkout to take advantage of the special pricing shown here.

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A Long Way Gone: eBook Edition
by: Beah, Ishmael
This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.
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List Price : $22.00
Your price $16.93 (Using your 10% discount and $.89 in eBook Reward points)
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Sandworms of Dune eBook Edition
by: Herbert, Brian/Anderson, Kevin
Based directly on Frank Herbert's final outline, which lay hidden in two safe-deposit boxes for a decade, Sandworms of Dune will answer the urgent questions Dune fans have been debating for two decades: the origin of the Honored Matres, the tantalizing future of the planet Arrakis, the final revelation of the Kwisatz Haderach, and the resolution to the war between Man and Machine.
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List Price : 27.95
Your price $21.51 (Using your 10% discount and $1.13 in eBook Reward points)
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Female Brain eBook Edition
by: Brizendine, Louann MD
Common sense tells us that boys and girls behave differently. We see it every day at home, on the playground, and in classrooms. But what the culture hasn't told us is that the brain dictates these divergent behaviors. . .Girls arrive already wired as girls, and boys arrive already wired as boys. Their brains are different by the time they're born, and their brains are what drive their impulses, values, and their very reality.
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List Price : $9.95
Your price $7.66 (Using your 10% discount and $.40 in eBook Reward points)
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Spook Country eBook Edition
by: Gibson, William
Tito is in his early twenties. Born in Cuba, he speaks fluent Russian, lives in one room in a NoLita warehouse, and does delicate jobs involving information transfer. Hollis Henry is an investigative journalist, on assignment from a magazine called Node. Node doesn't exist yet, which is fine; she's used to that. But it seems to be actively blocking the kind of buzz that magazines normally cultivate before they start up. Really actively blocking it. It's odd, even a little scary. . .
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List Price : $25.95
Your price $19.95 (Using your 10% discount and $1.05 in eBook Reward points)
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4-Hour Workweek eBook Edition
by: Ferriss, Timothy
Ferriss has spent more than five years learning the secrets of the New Rich, a fast-growing subculture who has abandoned the “deferred-life plan” and instead mastered the new currencies—time and mobility—to create luxury lifestyles in the here and now. Whether you are an overworked employee or an entrepreneur trapped in your own business, this book is the compass for a new and revolutionary world.
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List Price : $17.95
Your price $13.81 (Using your 10% discount and $.73 in eBook Reward points)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Design Flaws of the Human Condition

"Humans are an absolute miracle of design. We come in all these fun shapes and sizes and we can survive all sorts of hardship and mistreatment and be practically as good as new the next day - try pouring a bottle of bourbon down your toaster and see just how well it works the next day - but the design's not perfect. Nothing is. And just because you love somebody won't make them love you back."

That is my favorite quote from Design Flaws of the Human Condition which accurately describes the most glaring design flaw in all of us humans; our flawed capacity to love and be loved.

The classic example of a design flaw is the Ford Pinto; introduced in 1971 as the first Ford subcompact, it was small and peppy, fuel efficient and got great gas mileage. The flaw? A gas tank under the rear axle, which meant that it exploded on impact.

Thirty five years later, Paul Schmidtberger explores the theory of design flaws – those slight imperfections which with a little forethought might have been avoided – as applied to people (not machines) in the modern world. The result is hilarious.

The human condition is always a rich source of humor and pathos and Schmitberger captures both in this story of two quintessential New Yorkers who meet in an anger management course. Iris and Ken take us on a whirlwind tour of modern love, friendship, architecture, career woes, espionage techniques, loyalty and infidelity.

You may recall, I was in the middle of reading this when my Irex crashed. I was so involved in the character's lives that I actually contemplated going out and buying a paper copy! Fortunately, I came to my senses and loaded it on my Palm. Once it was loaded, I finished it in once sitting. Basically, I couldn't put it down.

There are some literary critics out there that say things like; 'the plot is contrived', 'the dialogue is trite', 'the situations are not all realistic' and blah, blah, blah. But I am a reader not a critic. And here is my bottom line: in the last three weeks I read 11 books and this was by far my favorite.

Design Flaws of the Human Condition is highly recommended. If nothing else, it is a great alternative to the standard summer reading of thrillers and chick-lit.

Here is the Publisher’s description:

As can only happen in New York, two strangers find themselves railroaded into an anger-management class, where they soon become fast friends. Iris is there because of an eminently justifiable meltdown on a crowded flight, whereas Ken got caught defacing library books with rude (but true!) messages about his former boyfriend. The boyfriend that he caught in bed with another man.

Needless to say, Iris and Ken were cosmically destined to be friends. What follows is a strikingly original comedy as Ken enlists Iris to infiltrate his ex-boyfriend’s life in the hope of discovering that he’s miserable. And Iris reciprocates, dispatching Ken to work himself into the confidence of her own boyfriend, whom she suspects of cheating. But what if Ken’s ex isn’t crying himself to sleep? What if he’s not the amoral fiend Ken wants to believe he is? And what should Iris do when her worst suspicions start to come true?

Exactly how perfect do we have the right to expect our fellow human beings to be? Anger, betrayal, loyalty, and friendship—Design Flaws of the Human Condition explores these universal themes with wisdom, compassion, and a wickedly irreverent sense of humor.


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