Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oprah's Pick: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (We Have the eBook Edition)

Yesterday, Oprah announced her latest book club pick: A New Earth by Echhart Tolle. You will be happy to know that she's gone whole hog this time. This is not a mere book recommendation. Oh no, she has added a webinar. Just think for the next ten week on Monday night you can watch Oprah and Eckhart are co-teach a class about finding your life purpose.

I admit, I have never gotten the whole Eckhart Tolle thing.

A friend of mine thrust The Power of Now on me as a "gotta read" book. I tried to read it. I really, really tried! But after fifty or so pages I gave it up in disgust. Not only is there nothing new in what he has to say, but he is pedantic and even worse, boring. The guy is an awful writer; and yes, I know that English is his second language.

When I finally confessed to my friend that I couldn't make myself read any more she insisted on loaning me the audio version.

The next morning I decide to give it a try. Listening to books is one of my favorite to pass time on the treadmill, so what the hell. I promised myself to listen to at least a half hour and to try to keep an open mind. It was with great resolve, that I got on the treadmill, placed the CD in the player and plugged in my head phones.

After fifteen minutes of listening to some guy tell me what I should do with a really bad Arnold-like accent I wanted to scream. Fifteen minutes later I wanted to pull my hair out and shriek!

At the end of a half hour I was done!! In kindness to those around me, I restrained my self, stifled the shriek and settled on throwing the headphones to the ground.

As luck would have it the real Arnold was on the overhead TV talking about "Cal-ee-for-nee-ah." Sometimes you have to admit, it is just not your day!

These types of books and spiritual teachers set my teeth on edge anyway. The only way I know to learn how to "live a day at a time" is to practice doing it. Reading about how to do it, talking about how you should do it and chasing the latest guru won't do it.

I am not sure that Oprah and Tolle have much to say that applies to most of us. Oprah has found her life purpose: a popular talk show host and philanthropist. Tolle has found his: making money trafficing off people's quest for a better life.

You can bet, come Monday night I will be otherwise occupied!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Discounted eBooks - January 29, 2008

ebook logo

New titles top the agenda this week. Advice, Biography, SciFi, Romance and a Technology -- should keep you busy and informed for the next weeK!. Use coupon code C3KL9 at check out to get a 10% discount on any or all of these titles.

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us.

REMEMBER all Best Sellers and New Releases are always discounted by 10% -- no coupons needed
eBook cover
live Rich eBook edition
byPollan, Stephan
In Live Rich, he now concentrates on the earning side--with the compelling observation that living rich has less to do with net worth and everything to do with freedom. You can live the life you want by adhering to the four tenets of the Live Rich philosophy: Make Money: Don't Grow, Change; Take Charge and Become a Mercenary. Revolutionary workplace ideals, as well as a detailed action plan, you can apply this philosophy to every facet of your life and truly Live Rich.
More Info
List Price : $l10.95
Your price $8.43 (Using your 10% discount and $ .441 points in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Mermaids in the Basement eBook Edition
by: West, Michael Lee
Reeling from the loss of her mother, plagued with a bad case of writer's block (and don't even talk about that extra twenty pounds), Renata DeChavannes feels as though everything is just plain wrong. And that was before the tabloids caught her sweetheart, filmmaker Ferg Lauderdale, sharing an intimate squeeze with Hollywood's hottest young tamale
More Info
List Price : $18.95
Your price $14.59 (Using your 10% discount and $ .77 iin eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Glamour Interrupted eBook edition
by Cojocaru, Steven
Before Steven Cojocaru was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, he could never have imagined himself living anything other than a high-glam Hollywood lifestyle. A bon vivant on two coasts, he held jobs as both the red carpet guru for Entertainment Tonight and the fashion correspondent for the Today show, hauling his suitcase full of flat irons and designer boots from New York to Los Angeles and back again, every week. He was Cojo, professional glamour boy with a barbed tongue who went shopping with J.Lo and traded fashion tips with Gwyneth.
More Info
List Price : $18.95
Your price $14.59 (Using your 10% discount and $ .77 points in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Moonseed eBook edition
by: Baxter Stephen
It Eats Planets. And It's Here. It starts when Venus explodes into a brilliant cloud of dust and debris, showering Earth with radiation and bizarre particles that wipe out all the crops and half the life in the oceans, and fry the ozone layer. Days later, a few specks of moon rock kicked up from the last Apollo mission fall upon a lava crag in Scotland. That's all it takes . . . Suddenly, the ground itself begins melting into pools of dust that grow larger every day. For what has demolished Venus, and now threatens Earth itself, is part machine, part life-form: a nano-virus, dubbed Moonseed, that attacks planets.
More Info
List Price : $7.19
Your price $6.15 (Using your 10% discount and $ .32 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
ASP.NET 3.5 Unleashed eBook edition
by: Walther, Stephen
ASP.NET 3.5 Unleashed is the most comprehensive book on the Microsoft ASP.NET 3.5 Framework, covering all aspects of the ASP.NET 3.5 Framework -- no matter how advanced. This edition covers all the new features of ASP.NET 3.5. It explains Microsoft LINQ to SQL in detail. It includes a chapter on the two new data access controls introduced with the ASP.NET 3.5 Framework: the ListView and DataPager controls.
More Info
List Price : $47.99
Your price $41.03 (Using your 10% discount and $2.16 in eBook Reward points)

Check here next week for the February Special Author and get 10% off on any of his/her titles.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Literary Fiction or Genre Fiction

prizes The review comparing and contrasting the The Senator's Wife and Mermaids in the Basement got me to thinking about how publishers (and readers) classify fiction.  For example, The Senator' Wife is considered by the publisher as literary while Mermaids in the Basement is genre (romance) fiction.

The publishing industry uses two broad categories: 

  • Literary fiction: loosely described as award winning and critically acclaimed.  This is fiction that addresses serious issues and is more generally character centric than plot driven. And finally, these are works that use beautiful language that is rich in vocabulary and lyrical in description. 
  • Genre fiction or "popular" fiction: SciFi, Romance, Horror, Mysteries etc.  This is narrative and plot driven writing which is often formulaic, uses simple language and is calculate to create an immediate emotional response.

Here is my rule of thumb:  Has the New York Times reviewed it? 

Yes, means it was either written by a mega-selling author or it is classified as a literary work.  No, almost certainly means it is a popular/genre title.

The thing that keeps coming up for me is that Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Mary Shelly and  Mark Twain were never considered "literary" in their time. I am not sure that Jonathan Swift, Alexander Dumas or Sir Thomas Mallory were either.

What these authors have in common is that they have have all written books that people are reading and enjoying decades later. 

The best definition of literary fiction I have heard is:

Literary fiction is fiction that endures; books that are read and enjoyed a hundred years later.

I would love to be around in 2100 to find out what books have endured and are considered "classics". 

What writers will be remembered and read? Will it be Nora Roberts, Steven King, John La Carre or (heaven forbid), Dan Brown?

Which of the award winning titles from the last few years will be read and enjoyed?  Will it be Gilead (Marilynne Robinson), The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen) or The Blind Assassin (Margaret Atwood)?  

Or will the whole idea of literary fiction and books be a quaint old fashioned curiosity?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Women's Stories: The Senator's Wife (eBook edition) and Mermaids in The Basement (eBook edition).

When it comes to books my daughter is a serial monogamist; she reads one book at a time from start to finish.  I on the other hand am a literary polygamist; in any given week I am in the process of reading four or five books.

Last weeks it went like this

By the end of the week I had finished The Senator's Wife and Mermaids in the Basement

Both are fiction.  Both are written by well known authors.  Both feature two generations of women and their contrasting lives.  Both were told from alternating points of view.  Both portray the intimate details of marriage and betrayal. 

And yet, they could not be more different!

The Senator's Wife is beautifully written, the language rich, the characters complex, the plot compelling. 

Sue Miller takes us deep into the private lives of women with this mesmerizing portrait of two marriages exposed in all their shame and imperfection, and in their obdurate, unyielding love.

This is a book I wanted to love.  In the end I couldn't make myself do it.  No matter how hard I tried, I did not love this book.

It was very slow going.  OK, I recognize that this is wonderful writing; an intricate character study of two morally ambiguous characters.  The problem is that no matter how much I tried, I couldn't like these women or particularly identify with either of them or their choices.  And they weren't so strange or interesting that I ended up (even grudgingly) fascinated by them.  And worse, the denouement left me cold -- it seemed both contrived and predictable. 

And yet the book has stayed with me all week.  I've rolled it around in my brain, examined it and analyzed it.  My final answer?  It was ultimately unsatisfying.

Mermaids in the Basement was a quick read that pulled me in from the first sentence and never let go.  Nothing heavy about this.  But the characters are rich and complex and downright intriguing.

Ripe with Southern charm and sultry atmosphere, West's diverting and funny latest unravels the tangled gossamer web of an eccentric extended Southern family.

These women are certainly morally ambiguous.  But guess what?  They are likeable and their choices make oddball sense.  I didn't necessarily identify (it is hard to be less of a "southern belle" than I am) but these women are real characters who grabbed my emotions as well as my brain.

It hasn't really stayed with me in the same way as The Senator's Wife.  I haven't spent any time analyzing it.  And yet it  left me feeling warm and satisfied.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Readius -- The Scroll Is Back

Everything old is new again: a reading platform that starts out the size of a pack of cigarettes (I know, it is politically incorrect to even use that c-word)and expands to a full 5 inch screen. 


readius closed


Photos of the so-called Readius prototype have been kicking around for a while. I couldn't have told you the thing was called Readius® but I did know that it was a small light reader with a roll up screen and just eight buttons!

What's not to like about the idea other than the fact that it isn't OLED based?  But I won't bore you with my particular hobby horse.

OLED or not, you still get a small, light thing to carry around.  A gadget that combines high resolution and long battery life -- always a winner.

Secretly, I've wanted one since I saw the first prototype.  If nothing else you have to admit that there is a real "coolness" factor to that roll up screen.

Looks like I might actually be able to get one soon.  According to a Reuters story earlier this week, the Readius will be available for sale by this summer.

The word is that it is really a cell phone that handles eBooks, RSS feeds, email and audio files.  Added features include a 30 hour battery life, an SD slot and it's very own portal.

According to Karl McGoldrick, chief executive of Polymer Vision:  "We are taking e-reading and bringing it to the mobile phone." 

Coolness not withstanding, before I get too excited there are a few question I want answered:

  • About that portal:  what exactly do they mean by  "the portal allows users to personally configure the Readius® User Interface and design content and services to their own style and needs"?
  • About reading:  What eReader software will I be able to use?  Will I be able to read my Mobipocket or PDF files?  Even the protected (DRM'd) files?
  • About eCommerce: Will I be able to buy eBooks, news services and subscriptions anywhere or will I be stuck with a proprietary reader and limited choices?
  • How much will it cost? 

The other thing I wonder about is if this device represents competition for current eInk readers (Kindle, Sony, Cybook, Irex etc) or the iPhone?  I guess time will tell.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

eBook Discounts for January 23, 2008

ebook logo

These are the five titles you asked for last week. Use coupon code B2J8G at check out to get a 10% discount on any or all of these titles.

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us.

REMEMBER all Best Sellers and New Releases are always discounted by 10% -- no coupons needed!
eBook cover
Glamour Interrupted eBook edition
by Cojocaru, Steven
Before Steven Cojocaru was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, he could never have imagined himself living anything other than a high-glam Hollywood lifestyle. A bon vivant on two coasts, he held jobs as both the red carpet guru for Entertainment Tonight and the fashion correspondent for the Today show, hauling his suitcase full of flat irons and designer boots from New York to Los Angeles and back again, every week. He was Cojo, professional glamour boy with a barbed tongue who went shopping with J.Lo and traded fashion tips with Gwyneth.
More Info
List Price : $18.95
Your price $14.59 (Using your 10% discount and $ .77 points in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Book of People eBook Edition
by: Brooks, Geraldine
Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding-an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-she begins to unlock the book's mysteries.
More Info
List Price : $25.95
Your price $19.97 (Using your 10% discount and $1.05 iin eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
90 Minutes In Heaven eBook edition
by: Piper, Don, Murphy, Cecil
On the way home from a conference, Don Piper's car was crushed by a semi that crossed into his lane. Medical personnel said he died instantly. While his body lay lifeless inside the ruins of his car, Piper experienced the glories of heaven, awed by its beauty and music. Ninety minutes after the wreck, while a minister prayed for him, Piper miraculously returned to life on earth with only the memory of inexpressible heavenly bliss.
More Info
List Price : $9.09/td>
Your price $6.99 (Using your 10% discount and $ .37 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Bond of Fire eBook edition
by: Whiteside, Diane
"What do you get when you cross the Crusades, incredible, sensuous story"** called Bond of Blood. Now Diane Whiteside, turns up the Texas heat once again. In this exciting novel she revisits that landscape of fiery seduction while exploring the centuries-old love affair between vampire knight Jean-Marie St. Just and vampire firestarter and secret agent H¿l¿ne d'Agelet.
More Info
List Price : $14.00
Your price $11.97 (Using your 10% discount and $ .63 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Strong at the Broken Places eBook edition
by: Cohen, Richard
Cohen spent three years chronicling the lives of five diverse "citizens of sickness": Denise, who suffers from ALS; Buzz, whose Christian faith helps him deal with his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; Sarah, a determined young woman with Crohn's disease; Ben, a college student with muscular dystrophy; Larry, whose bipolar disorder is hidden within. The five are different in age and gender, race and economic status, but they are determined to live life on their own terms. Intimately involved with these patients' lives, Cohen formed intense relationships with each, talked to their families and friends, and shared joy, even in heart-breaking setbacks.
More Info
List Price : $19.95
Your price $15.36 (Using your 10% discount and $ .81 in eBook Reward points)

Use Coupon Code BAXTER to receive a 10% discount on ANY Stephen Baxter eBook until January 31, 2008.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A real eReader -- What This Woman Wants.

I have spent five (long) years looking for a really good eBook reader. Not perfect; just good. And yet I keep looking.

Lately I have gadgetsbecome convinced that that eReaders are pretty much irrelevant given current technology.

I have lot of gadgets! Why do I want one more?

What it comes down to it, I don't want a new eReader no matter now fancy. What I want is a robust device that I can use for a variety of things including, reading eBooks.

The new devices needs to have these characteristics:

A logical hardware package:

  • Light (5-8 oz.) ergonomic design. The ability to EASILY hold the device in one hand. AND to be able to comfortably do basic navigation with the same hand. Doesn't matter if it uses buttons, flip bar, finger or pointer.
  • Enough processor speed and RAM to make it snappy -- this changes so fast I won't bother with specification.
  • A 6-8 inch TOUCH screen with internal lighting.
  • High resolution screen for text, graphics, and video.
  • Clear audio capabilities for both listening and recording.
  • Always-on connectivity -- WiFi works great
  • Generous storage 40-80GB; I personally like the solid state hard drives.
  • Long battery life and easy battery replacement.
  • All the standard hardware things you would expect like SD card slot(s) and USB ports.

A robust operating environment:

  • A full operating system (Palm, Windows Mobil or Linux come to mind)
  • Basic functional software -- Internet browser, email, contacts, calendar, notes, photo gallery etc.
  • A full compliment of readily available productivity software, GPS capabilities, and games.
  • Easy writing/note taking ability with real annotation ability -- handwriting recognition and on screen keyboard plus the ability to use a keyboard and mouse if desired.

eBook-specific software included:

  • The ability to read least 2 of the common protected eBook formats: PDF, MS Lit, Palm and Mobipocket
  • The ability to buy books "over the air" from any source, anytime, anywhere.
  • Great search capability that includes not only searching of the eBook text but all annotations as well.
  • The ability to share my annotations with others.
  • All the obvious software features you would expect: changing font type, font size, highlighting and bookmarking, dictionary lookup.

And I want it all for a decent price -- less than $500.

OK, that might be a little optimistic but certainly the capability can be had for close to $800. And as far as add-on capability (more RAM, larger hard drive, more slot); that can be as pricey as the manufacturer can get away with.

The most intriguing possibilities on the horizon are the tablet and ultra-mobile devices. Here are a couple of possibilities shown by Engadget in the last month.

The iriver prototype tablet

iriver prototype

or the Inventec UMPC 7A



I keep wondering why Sony and Amazon have just introduced single purpose brain-dead devices. Presumably they studied the market before creating their readers.

The the only conclusion I can draw is that they are invested in protecting a divided marketplace -- keeping listening device, video device, eBook device and GPS system device users in separate little ghettos for their marketing convenience.

A universal device is inevitable. So the real question is this: Are they going to start listening to the consumer or will some Chinese company come along and eat their markets?

Monday, January 21, 2008

The BEST eBooks about The Civil Rights Movement 1954-1968

mlk Today is the United States national holiday celebrating Martin Luther King's birthday.

Of course, I woke up this morning thinking about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement.  Most of what I know about this topic I learned from Taylor Branch and his amazing three part history .

Remember, I grew up outside of the US.  My main source of information on all things American was Time Magazine.  It is no surprise that I had a very vague idea of what the Civil Rights Movement really was or how it happened.  Sure, I knew the basic outlines but there were very few details.  

It doesn't seem possible, but it really was eeighteen years ago I picked up Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch.  History always intrigues me and I had often wondered (in a kind of lazy way)  about the Civil Rights Movement.  I saw the book and picked it up expecting to skim it for information.

A funny thing happened.  After just few pages, I found I couldn't put it down.  I bought it and headed home to read it carefully. 

I was transported to the deep South of 1954.  The characters are drawn so carefully and completely that they start to live and breath  The descriptions are so detailed and graphic that you can see and feel them.  Two days (and 900 pages) later I was still in the South, but now it was 1963. 

That was a book I hated to see end!  Those pages flew by and I could have read another 900 with ease. 

Over the intervening years I would think about the book and wonder what happened next.

It took ten years to find out. . .

 Pillar of Fire picks up the story and and takes you through 1965.  And then  I had another five year wait for the last volume At Caanan's Edge.

It is a testament to how powerful the books are that I never forgot characters in the intervening years. 

Fortunately, Simon and Schuster released all three books as eBooks last year and you won't have to wait for 15 years to get the whole story.

This is non-fiction, history and biographical writing at it's VERY best! 

As a teaser, I am adding the publisher's information about Parting the Waters:

Hailed as the most masterful story ever told of the American civil rights movement, Parting the Waters is destined to endure for generations.

Moving from the fiery political baptism of Martin Luther King, Jr., to the corridors of Camelot where the Kennedy brothers weighed demands for justice against the deceptions of J. Edgar Hoover, here is a vivid tapestry of America, torn and finally transformed by a revolutionary struggle unequaled since the Civil War.

Taylor Branch provides an unsurpassed portrait of King's rise to greatness and illuminates the stunning courage and private conflict, the deals, maneuvers, betrayals, and rivalries that determined history behind closed doors, at boycotts and sit-ins, on bloody freedom rides, and through siege and murder.

Epic in scope and impact, Branch's chronicle definitively captures one of the nation's most crucial passages.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Steve Jobs Kindles Another Debate

"The seminal thinker of Apple is taking another byte that’s too big for his britches. He is declaring the written word dead" says Henri Reynard in this guest appearance.

jobs2 Steve Jobs has always made great presentations even when he is presenting a dead product. Remember, oh guru, the great black walrus carcass of NeXT hanging around your neck?

Unfortunately when a product offering to your worshipping crowds isn’t up to par, you have to depend on a controversy to make news.  And Jobs is a past master at this kind of folderol.

Luckily for him it is just babble and not real prognostication. He has amply proven that he is not a living reincarnation of Nostradamus. If the written word is dead so is computing which last time I looked depended on keyboards and words to do almost everything it does.

If he really wants to amaze and intelligently impact the growing market for devices that can both talk and listen to you he should build a better tablet computer. I’ll even design it for him.

The tablet computer needs to be about the size of a sheet of paper or at least seven inches by ten inches. It should be no thicker than his new offering which is just another thin portable. It should take written text and dictation. It needs great color resolution like the iPhone and a new operating system based on spoken commands.

This tablet needs a five thousand word look up vocabulary so that it can offer you options when it doesn’t recognize a word you used. “Did you mean functions,” are prevalent in typed word dictionaries. It needs a particular dictionary adapted to the task of taking dictation and dealing with handwritten text. It could also have a keyboard that is presented onscreen as a touch screen function. It certainly should have drawing functions and stock images built into its connected library of utilities.

It should also be fully ready for the next big thing in computing, “Permanently Connected Publishing.” That would be a computer worthy of notice. It could also be designed to fold up and act as a phone; eventually. I wouldn’t want him to overreach the market again.

I can go on and so can a lot of you. Let’s have a little fun challenging Jobs to actually do something besides listen to the iPods with the rest of his life. The iPhone is a pretty toy but not a revolution in anything but Apple’s bottom line. Let’s see a real revolution in computing.

Bring on the tablet computer, it is long overdue.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Steve Jobs: "People Don't Read Anymore"

Earlier this week New York Times blogger John Markoff got the chance to sit down and talk with Steve Jobs.  In a fascinating and wide ranging interview they talk about the MacBook Air, the Kindle, Google smart phone, television and Bill Gates.

Jobs disses the Kindle and predicts it will go nowhere.  From his perspective:

"It doesn't matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don't read anymore. . . Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don't read anymore."

Steve loves controversy, and this is one more in a long line of outrageous statements.  It most certainly will get him and the new MacBook Air noticed. 

I happen to agree that the Kindle is a deeply flawed product - ugly, proprietary and dumb.  But I am not letting him off the hook here: his statement is deeply flawed (not to mention dumb and inflammatory). 

People Don't Read Anymore

First and foremost is the presumption that the only reading that "counts" is book reading.  Particularly ironic in this case since the interview was given to someone who writes a blog; last time I checked most people read blogs. 

His statement ignores newspapers and magazines and the tremendous amount of reading done online.

How many people do you think will read his statement that no one reads anymore? 

Oh yeah, there is this:  I would be willing to bet that more time is spent reading email on the iPhone than watching TV or actually talking.

There isn't a market for Books

Makes you wonder why Amazon is in business at all, doesn't it?  But even more problematic is that his statement is not accurate.  The actual statistic from the National Endowments for the Arts study is:

57% percent of Americans over the age of 18 read at least one book per year not required for work or school.

Let's just take the statement at face value.  Let's agree that there isn't much market for books or book related technology.  Then let's do the math: 

  • The US population is about 300 million people. 
  • If 57% of them read 1 book a year then there is (at the very least) a 171 million unit market. 
  • The average book price is $18.00
  • That translates to something like a $3 Billion market. . .

By the way actual annual book sales in the US are more than $16 Billion per year

I personally wouldn't sneeze at that kind of money. And that doesn't touch the educational market.

Hey, Steve

Before you so lightly dismiss reading (and eBooks) you probably ought to start praying that people continue to read for a while. 

If they don't, all those iPhones and that shiny new MacBook Air (which requires the user to read) will be sitting on the shelf for a long time to come.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Discounted eBooks - January 16, 2008

ebook logo

These are the five titles you asked for last week. Use coupon code A9JG4 at check out to get a 10% discount on any or all of these titles.

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us.
eBook cover
In Defense of Food eBook edition
byPollan, Michael
What to eat, what not to eat, and how to think about health: a manifesto for our times ""Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."" These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, the well-considered answers he provides to the questions posed in the bestselling The Omnivore's Dilemma.
More Info
List Price : $21.95
Your price $16.89 (Using your 10% discount and $ .89 points in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Vacuum Diagrams eBook Edition
by: Baxter, Stephen
This dazzling future history, winner of the 2000 Philip K. Dick Award, is the most ambitious and exciting since Asimov's classic Foundation saga. It tells the story of Humankind -- all the way to the end of the Universe itself.
More Info
List Price : $7.99
Your price $6.15 (Using your 10% discount and $ .32 iin eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
The Master Key System eBook edition
by: Haanel, Charles F..
Businessman Charles F. Haanel made a meticulous study of the "Law of Attraction" in The Master Key System--a step-by-step guide to activating the principle of mental power and a core inspiration behind The Secret.
More Info
List Price : $10.00
Your price $8.55 (Using your 10% discount and $ .45 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
The Killer Among Them eBook Edition
by Whiting, Anita
Can her sixth sense be enough to stop the murders or does the killer have his sights set on her as his next victim? Katarina Ramon is a busy, well respected attorney in New York City. Yet the dreams still torment her. More than dreams-they are replays of the clairvoyant flashes that show every detail of her parents' murder years ago.
More Info
List Price : $5.50
Your price $4.70 (Using your 10% discount and $ ..25 iin eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Right Hand Technique for Guitar eBook edition
by: Arnold, Bruce E.
This book is invaluable for the beginning student who wishes to get on the right path immediately, the musician who is experiencing fatigue or pain in playing, and the musician who may already have some damage. The exercises are geared to help the muscles respond smoothly to the demands placed upon them
More Info
List Price : $23.99
Your price $20.51 (Using your 10% discount and $1.08 in eBook Reward points)


Use Coupon Code BAXTER to receive a 10% discount on ANY Stephen Baxter eBook until January 31, 2008.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Publishers don't get it -- An eBook should be more. . .

My 9 year old neighbor is a wired kid.  She loves computers and gadgets.  I got to wondering if she would have been more interested in The Daring Book for Girls if I had showed her the eBook edition on my Cybook.

Before suggesting it, however, I thought I would like to see what the eBook version was really like. I actually went to the store and bought it. 

After about five minutes, I came to the conclusion that it wouldn't have made one iota of difference.  Since the eBook version is no more compelling than the print version. 

All I could think was "What a waste!"

The Daring Book is basically an instruction manual. Unfortunately, the eBook version is a faithful rendition of the print version. 

The Mobipocket reader, which I was using, is a fairly sophisticated piece of eReader software.  When utilized fully it enhances the digital reading experience.  And yet, the publishers choose to create a flat, one dimensional product.  The eBook version has all the drawbacks of the paper edition and not one of the advantages of the digital experience.

Remember, this is a book specifically aimed at kids.  You know, those alien creatures around the house plugged into their phones, iPods, Gameboys and xBoxes. The ones that have been raised with computers, gadgets and multimedia. They know that life is a multimedia experience. 

And then there are books.  Books are a unimedia (print) or possibly a duamedia experience (print and graphic).  How can they possibly compete?

Guys, this is important:  An eBook is digital. 

The beauty of a digital book is that it has the capacity to be a multimedia experience that can compete.

Instead of line drawings of how to create a cootie catcher you can insert at the very least a link to a video.  Better yet, just insert a video clip.  It took me less than 5 seconds to find this YouTube piece. And you can't tell me that the creator of this video would not be happy to licence his creation to Harper Collins. 

Instead of just showing Spanish or French Terms of Endearment. Expressions and Other Items of Note you could easily attach a audio file that actually pronounces the words.  Who's to know that nuit is pronounced "knee we"?

Instead of listing thirty four living princesses, why not link to a picture of them?  And for those of you wondering where the hell Lesotho is -- add a map or a link to Google earth.

When you look at it dispassionately, you have to come to the conclusion that a unimedia experience is pretty bland.  Which makes me think that it is no wonder kids don't read.

Plain ole print is boring!

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Daring Book For Girls eBook edition

The Daring Book for Girls is an eclectic mix of games, crafts, history sports and general knowledge.  The book, written by popular "mommy bloggers" Andrea Buchanan, and Miriam Peskowitz, takes us back to a gentler, more innocent time.

My sister brought me the print version exclaiming "you gotta see this book." I picked it up and started browsing.  It was a trip down memory lane. We both remember long-forgotten childhood pleasures: cootie catchers, friendship bracelets, scoter building and willow whistles.  The format reminded us of the old Girl Scout manual (without the planet diagrams) that we used to have laying around the house.  I was charmed.

While there is certainly an old fashioned feel to the book; there are come jarringly contemporary sections  like negotiating a salary, finance and public speaking.  Admittedly, useful and important but not exactly in context with pressing flowers.

The acid test, of course, was putting the book into the hands of my neighbor and her three little girls aged 7, 9 and 10.  The result was fascinating.  The 7 year old was intrigued by pressing flowers, paper airplanes and whistling with two fingers.  The 10 year old experimented with putting her hair up with a pencil and bandana trying.  The 9 year old picked it up, thumbed through it and wandered off to check her Zwinky site. 

Their consensus was that it was "OK". Their Mom on the other hand loved it!  She is hoping that it will be an antidote to the "Mommy, I'm bored" summer ahead.

Obviously this is no where near conclusive but I suspect that it may be indicative of a more general response.  Girls like it; Mom's love it.  Which, all things considered, is probably good news for the authors since the Moms are the ones with the money to buy the book.

For the official stuff you can read the publishers blurb:

The Daring Book for Girls is the manual for everything that girls need to know—and that doesn't mean sewing buttonholes! Whether it's female heroes in history, secret note-passing skills, science projects, friendship bracelets, double Dutch, cats cradle, the perfect cartwheel or the eternal mystery of what boys are thinking, this book has it all. But it's not just a guide to giggling at sleepovers—although that's included, of course! Whether readers consider themselves tomboys, girly-girls, or a little bit of both, this book is every girl's invitation to adventure.

Or watch this video:


Thursday, January 10, 2008

eBook Odds and Ends

eBooks are a dynamic and ever evolving market.  Everyday I find new and interesting items, ideas and information.  These are my favorite for this week.

Publisher's Weekly 2008 Trends

mikeMike Shatzkin has been around the publishing industry for a long time. There are even those who refer to him as a guru.  Guru or not, he is a savvy guy and knows publishing.  When Mike makes predictions about industry trends, I pay attention. 

This week he wrote up his 2008 predictions for Publisher's weekly piece: 15 Trends to Watch.  Some of them are really only interesting to "industry insiders" but not all.  This year he had a lot to say about the Internet and digital publishing.  In fact, one third (five for the math adverse) of his predictions have something to do with eBooks:

  • The popularity of e-books will increase
  • Sales of books in electronic form to public libraries will continue to grow
  • Christmas 2008 will be the first year in which there will be sales of customized books as eBooks and POD titles
  • Apple will move to turn the iPhone and iPod into e-book readers
  • “Read and listen” bundles of e-books will become available as digital downloads
eBook Reader Comparisons

ebookroundupSeems like every month there is a new eBook reader on the market.  My friends keep asking me to recommend one.  Always a dicey proposition. 

I have now found a way to dodge that particular bullet.  I simply refer them to this excellent synopsis:  Book Readers At a Glance from the Wired Blog.  Unfortunately, I may have to change tactics soon since this piece is only three months old and there are new readers to consider.

Geek Toys


And finally, one I just can't resist.

This is for those of you worried about reading eBooks anywhere.  The Myvu goggles may be just the ticket.  They are sold as "a personal media viewer."  Put them on, kick back and prepare for total immersion.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

eBook Discounts for January 9, 2007

ebook logo

Happy New Year!

I suppose it is no suprise that the most searched for book this week was by Barak Obama. Add a little horror and space opera for fun and the ineveitable new year diet. Use coupon code DH59Y to get your special price Over the holidays we worked on our blogs: they have lots of information and discounts. Check them out here or by going to the eBooks About Blog.
eBook cover
The Audacity of Hope eBook edition
by Obama, Barak
in The Audacity of Hope, Senator Obama calls for a different brand of politics–a politics for those weary of bitter partisanship and alienated by the “endless clash of armies” we see in congress and on the campaign trail; a politics rooted in the faith, inclusiveness, and nobility of spirit at the heart of “our improbable experiment in democracy.” He explores those forces–from the fear of losing to the perpetual need to raise money to the power of the media–that can stifle even the best-intentioned politician. He also writes, with surprising intimacy and self-deprecating humor, about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life, and his own deepening religious commitment.
More Info
List Price : $14.95
Your price $12.78 (Using your 10% discount and $ .67 points in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
The Darkest Evening of the Year eBook Edition
by:Koontz, Dean
A heart-gripping tour de force he’s been waiting years to write, at once a love story, a thrilling adventure, and a masterwork of suspense that redefines the boundaries of primal fear—and of enduring devotion. Amy Redwing has dedicated her life to the southern California organization she founded to rescue abandoned and endangered golden retrievers. Among dog lovers, she’s a legend for the risks she’ll take to save an animal from abuse. . .
More Info
List Price : $20.95
Your price $16.10 (Using your 10% discount and $ .85 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
101 Foods That Could Save Your Life eBook edition
by: Grotto, David
More than a reference book, 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life will make a significant impact on your health by guiding you to gradually add these foods to your diet. Plus, each entry includes a history of the food’s origin, therapeutic benefits along with scientific research, tips for use and preparation, and an appetizing recipe from a leading chef or nutritionist. Prepare to awaken your tastebuds, lose excess weight, and feel the healing begin.
More Info
List Price : $14.00
Your price $10.77 (Using your 10% discount and $ .57 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Dragon Harper eBook edition
by: Mccaffrey, Anne, Mccaffrey, Todd J.
For millions of readers the world over, the name Pern is magical, conjuring up grand vistas of a distant planet whose blue skies are patrolled by brave dragons and their noble riders, a paradise threatened by the periodic fall of deadly Thread. But not all dangers descend from the skies. Now, in their third collaboration, Anne McCaffrey and her son, Todd McCaffrey, spin a tale of a mysterious illness that may succeed in doing what centuries of Threadfall could not: kill every last human on Pern.
More Info
List Price : $17.95
Your price $13.81 (Using your 10% discount and $ .73 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Seminar Marketing and Sales Training Techniques for the Financial Professional eBook edition
by: Eberhart, Frank James
In this business guide author Frank James Eberhart, CEP, RFC, explains his agenda for successfully gaining new clientele: Generate seminar attendance; How to get results from your seminars; How to increase your revenue; How to prepare effective PowerPoint presentations; How to develop your sales and closing skills
More Info
List Price : 6.00
Your price $5.13 (Using your 10% discount and $ .27 in eBook Reward points)
Check the bottom of the home page each week to see our featured author and look for special discounts.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

eBooks and the Perfect Reader

irexsonykindle There has been a lot of talk about eBook hardware in the last year:  the Irex Illiad, the Sony reader, the Cybook and finally the Kindle. Lots of press.  Lots of talk.

With each new device the questions arises:  Is this the new iPod for books?  Is this the piece of hardware that will take eBooks mainstream?  The "Killer Device" for eBooks?

The talk is seductive. I admit to having gotten a little sucked into that mind set.  I like the idea that somehow, someday there will be a "killer device" that will catapult eBooks into the next dimension.

This morning, while in the shower (I do my best thinking in the shower), it struck me -- the whole concept is totally fallacious.  It is, in fact, highly unlikely that there will ever be such a thing.

Think about it.  All over the world people are reading digital books.  Most of them read these eBooks on PCs, PDAs and mobile phones.

They aren't waiting for the perfect reader.  In fact they aren't even necessarily interested in a new gadget that will transform the whole electronic reading experience.  They are quite happy just as they are.  Thank you very much. 

Sure, there are some annoying inconveniences but basically, the technology is "good enough" for them just as it is.

cellphone girlMost of the "good enough" readers are young, hip and wired.  They are generally under 35 and grew up with computers, games boys and cell phones.  They are dexterous and have decent eyesight.  They think of books as something their parents read to them before they could play video games.  Alternatively, they think of books as some kind of bizarre punishment inflicted on them in the name of education. 

old man reading Most of the people waiting for the "killer device" think of books as iconic.  They seem to feel that the physical form of a book is somehow sacred.  After all, they grew up reading books, libraries were well funded and book stores were everywhere.  They expect the electronic reading experience to replicate the familiar print experience. 

In the end it is all about expectations and familiarity.  And then there is this:  the "good enough" generation is growing even as those waiting for the "killer device" are slowly and inexorably dying off.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Version of the Truth eBook edition

Life has not been particularly kind to Cassie Shaw, the protagonist of "A Version of the Truth." Her father died when she was young.  Her Mom, while well-meaning and loving, has little understanding and patience for "real life," which means that money was always tight.

You have to love this gal; she's got moxie!  She is a dyslexic who didn't learn to read until she was twelve. Of course, she's a high school drop out who didn't even bother to take the SATs.  And to top it off, Cassie's no good husband of four years has just died leaving her a thirty year old widow.  And by the way she is not only broke, she's in debt. 

Cassie moves back home with her foul-mouthed parrot.  About the only thing she has going for her is her friend Tiffany and her native street smarts. 

What she really needs is a job. Problem is, no one wants to hire her.  Then one day it happens, in a desperate moment she invents a psychology degree from the University of Michigan.

Lying on her resume just happened. Lying really isn't her style.  Cassie is much more used to faking it.  That's something she's done it all her life:  memorizing menus at eight, dodging homework in high school and playing dumb.

This particular lie works like a charm.  Suddenly she is employed in an administrative position at an elite university and the the faking it starts in earnest.  She slowly begins to reinventing herself from the outside in.  Hair, clothes, a little Thoreau, a University of Michigan coffee mug and a college class or two.  What she doesn't count on is how exposure to new people and new ideas will change her. 

It is all too good to last and in one afternoon everything changes.  She learns that it is not the lie, but the cover up that is her final undoing.

Once I got into the book (it has a slow start), I thoroughly enjoyed every word.  Cassie is an engaging anti-hero with a slightly skewed point of view. Her forays into culture (art exhibits and the symphony) are laugh out loud funny.

It might not be great literature but it is the perfect book for a rainy weekend.  Funny, whimsical and heartening.

Here's the publisher's book description:

Authors Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack  introduce a character with a unique voice you’ll never forget: Cassie Shaw, an irrepressible young woman who reinvents herself—with unexpected consequences—in a funny, wise, and utterly original novel about friendship, love, wildlife, and other forces of nature.

In the wilds of Topanga Canyon, Cassie is right at home—with the call of birds, the sound of wind in the trees, the harmony of a world without people. But everywhere else, life is a little harder for Cassie. Her mother believes in Big Foot. Her wisecracking pet parrot is a drama queen. And at the age of thirty, newly single and without a college degree, Cassie desperately needs a decent paycheck. Which is why, against all her principles, she lies on her résumé for an office job at an elite university—and then finds herself employed in academia by two professors who are as rare as the birds she covets.

One of her new bosses is Professor William Conner, a sexy, handsome, cheerfully aristocratic expert in animal behavior. Soon, under Conner’s charismatic tutelage, Cassie carefully begins her personal transformation while meeting the kind of people who don’t flock to wildlife preserves—from impossibly brilliant academics to adorably spoiled college boys. But her future—and unlikely new career—is teetering on one unbearable untruth. And Cassie’s masquerade is about to come undone…in a chain of events that will transform her life—and the lives of those around her—forever.
A novel for late bloomers of every exotic shade and stripe, A Version of the Truth is pure entertainment—at once hilarious and wry, lyrical and uplifting.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Fitness eBooks -- Workouts/Exercise

I have spent the last few days thinking about exercise.  I went so far as to pull my gym clothes out of the bottom of the closet.  I even made sure that they were clean and ready to wear.  But somehow, getting out the door to they gym is beyond me. 

This morning I did the next best thing:  I went to the eBooks About Everything store and started studying fitness and exercise eBooks. 

Incidentally,  exercise is not nearly as popular as diet.  There are only 71 eBooks on exercise compared to 100s on diets.  But I digress. . .

The newest title I found is The Show It Love Workout.  Show it love?!?  Seems like a stretch to me. . .

Anyway, Kacy Duke is "one of the hottest celebrity fitness trainers today."  She has trained Julianne Moore, Iman and Denzel Washington.  

She advocates dance that is cardio building combined with weights for strength.  She claims it is fun!  Well, I could use a little fun. But as I thought about it more, I realized that for someone who is as coordination challenged as me, this probably won't be that much fun.

I kept looking.

Down the page I found Fit and Sexy for Life by Kathy Kaehler.  Julia Roberts, Michelle Pfeiffer and Cyndi Crawford endorse her.  Evidently, this is a plan for real women as the get older and want to stay sexy as well as fit.  Well, that certainly applies to me! 

This is a down to earth, sensible approach to staying lean and toned and promises to make me "sleep like a baby." 

Sleeping is much more down my alley than dancing.   That is for sure!  And interestingly, browsing through the book almost put me to sleep.

I shook myself awake, grabbed another cup of coffee and kept looking.

Remember that (like everyone else) I am always in a hurry.  Never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything I want to do.  And lets face it, exercise takes a lot of time.  You have to gear up for it psychologically, then change clothes, do the work out, shower and change clothes again.  Very time consuming.

But I stumbled on the perfect answer -- Quick Fit.    Fifteen minutes and no sweat!  No changing clothes, no shower, and it's complete!  This is a plan I could love -- and stick with.  Which is something of a problem.

The problem being that this leaves me with no excuses for not exercising.  Not sure I am ready for that!

After more thought and another cup of coffee, I am now wondering:  if I read these books and very carefully and accurately visualize doing the prescribed movements and routines, will that work?  Which gives me a whole new thing to think about.

Perhaps I can just forget about diet and exercise and put my energy into meditation. 

Whaddya think?


Subscribe Now: Feed Icon