Why do I love Amazon Prime?
I strongly recommend that you take advantage of the 30-day trial Amazon is offering for Amazon Prime Video or Amazon Prime and enjoy the benefits of the membership.
For a monthly fee of £5.99, Amazon Prime Instant Video members can:
•Enjoy unlimited instant streaming of over 15,000 movies and TV shows
•Watch anywhere, anytime with unlimited access throughout the UK
•Watch exclusive hit TV shows before they air on British TV
For an annual fee of £79, Amazon Prime members can:
•Enjoy all the benefits of Amazon Prime Instant Video (listed above)
•Borrow books from a choice of over 500,000 titles from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, including all seven Harry Potter books and other top sellers in the Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store.
•Get unlimited, FREE One-Day Delivery on millions of items
Read all the terms and conditions here.
I became a Prime member when I purchased my first Kindle Fire. Let me count the ways I love it:
• Because I own a Kindle device, I can borrow an e-book free one time each month and keep it for as long as I need before borrowing my next book. The lending library has more than 180,000 selections, including many Amazon-exclusive titles.
• My husband Tiger has always been a movie nut and he loves the unlimited, instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime instant videos. If you buy Amazon Prime for this feature alone, you have purchased a great deal. Here in the United States, the taxes on most monthly cable bill are more than the monthly Prime membership fee. The movies and TV episodes included in free streaming to Prime members is growing nearly every day and there’s always something you want to watch.
With Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theatre Butter Popcorn 32 Bags (£21.00 with free quick shipping) and so many choices for viewing, Tiger and I have enjoyed movies and favorite television shows for much less than cable or the movie theater.
• Amazon continues to add video content for instant streaming in the United States and expectations are that the UK inventory will grow too.
• I no longer have “check-out shock” when shipping costs exceed my expectations. Prime members get unlimited free one-day shipping on millions of items with no minimum order size. Last fall when the apples were ready to pick, we realized we didn’t have the necessary equipment. I ordered a fruit picker with a telescoping pole from Amazon, shipped free. Just two days later we were picking apples and enjoying delicious pie.
When the refrigerator water filter needed replacement, I ordered directly from Amazon and received it within two days. I didn’t have to drive to the appliance store, hoping they had what I needed. If it wasn’t in stock, then I would have had to wait for them to order and receive it before driving back to pick it up.
• Frustration-free packaging is the best! If you have ever broken a fingernail, cut your hand or damaged a product trying to get it out of the package, you will appreciate that most items shipped from Amazon are easy to open. Items shipped from warehouses do not need to be encased in shoplifter-resistant armor like items in brick-and-mortar stores. Anyone with arthritis or other physical limitations will appreciate this feature.
• No more disappointing movie nights when you have to settle for what’s available. When it comes to digital products, you don’t wait for another user to return it before you can access your choice. You can begin reading or watching immediately.
• Amazon clearly identities books that are eligible to borrow and items that qualify for free shipping, I’ve made buying decisions based on the free two-day shipping alone.
Don’t pass up this opportunity to try Amazon Prime free for 30 days.
Authors who passed in 2013
The list of famous authors who have died in 2013 reminds us that the world has lost creative, writing voices.
Tom Clancy wrote seventeen bestselling novels. His work typically dealt with espionage and military storylines often related to the Cold War. In addition to his numerous books, his work inspired movies like The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears.
Elmore Leonard was a novelist and screenwriter with numerous well-known works, many of which that became well-known films. He wrote Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk and Rum Punch, which would be adapted for Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.
James Herbert was a horror writer, who also designed his own covers and publicity. He had previously worked as the art director for an ad agency. His books included: The Rats (99p), The Fog, The Survivor, Fluke, The Spear, Lair, The Dark, The Jonah, Shrine, Domain, and many more.
Vince Flynn, 47, was a best-selling author of political thrillers. Most of his books followed the exploits of Mitch Rapp – an under-cover CIA counter-terrorism agent. The first book in the series – Term Limits – was released in 1997.
Chris Kyle was a U.S. Navy SEAL, and is said to have been the most lethal sniper in United States military history, with 160 confirmed kills (out of 255 claimed kills). He served from 1999 to 2009. Kyle wrote a best-selling book about his experiences called American Sniper.
Elizabeth Jane Howard wrote a saga of a wealthy English family living in the shadow of war enchanted readers a generation ahead of “Downton Abbey,”. She was 90. Buy the first book in the Cazalet Chronicle, The Light Years for 95p.
British novelist Paul Torday, who had a surprise best-seller with his debut novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, died at age 67.
Romance writer Janet Dailey, whose books have sold more than 325 million copies worldwide, died at her southwest Missouri home. She was 69.
Barbara Park, a former class clown who channeled her irreverence into the million-selling mishaps of grade schooler Junie B. Jones in a popular series of children’s books, died after a long battle with ovarian cancer. She was 66.
Michael Palmer, a physician and best-selling suspense author whose Extreme Measures was adapted into a 1996 film of the same name starring Hugh Grant and Gene Hackman, has died. Palmer died at age 71 from complications relating to a stroke and heart attack. His medical thriller Critical Judgement is selling for £2.99.
Barbara Mertz, a best-selling mystery writer who wrote dozens of novels under two pen names, has died. She was 85. Mertz was best known for her Amelia Peabody cozy mysteries (84p each) written under the name of Elizabeth Peters.
Leighton Gage, a crime novelist whose books were inspired by Brazilian law enforcement, died at the age of 71.
Ray Vance, an acclaimed writer in the science fiction genre who won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984, died at 96.
Dallas Willard, influential author and Christian philosopher, died of cancer at age 77.
Andrew J. Offutt, a science fiction author known for the series Thieves’ World, War of the Gods on Earth, and War of the Wizards, has died of cirrhosis. He was 78.
Apple in the Court
If you have been following the anti-trust suit brought against Apple in the United States, the following is a recap of recent activity.
In July the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) was successful in its anti-trust suit against Apple for creating the agency model of e-book prices. Apple was convicted of conspiring with five of the biggest publishers in the U.S. to set the price of e-books. Fines will be determined in a trial set for a later date and Apple has vowed to appeal.
Apple has stated that the proposed remedies in the case against it are heavy-handed, lambasting them as “wildly out of proportion to any adjudicated wrongdoing or potential harm.”
Whether you are an Apple devotee or could give them a pass, we can all agree that we want fair treatment through the justice system. Apple has been found at fault. Let them pay a fine befitting the fault because the company seems to have plenty of money. Make the financial penalty high enough that no one other company considers doing the same thing.
The DOJ sought additional remedies beyond the money:
• Apple must allow rival e-book retailers like Amazon and B&N to provide links from their e-book apps to their e-bookstores and they don’t have to pay a commission to Apple.
• Apple will be subjected to an external monitor (which Apple will probably have to pay for) to ensure compliance to the DOJ remedies.
Apple still maintains that it did not break any anti-trust laws and has told the court “no further injunction is warranted.” In other words, Apple shouldn’t be punished.
The court doesn’t like the advantage given to Amazon and B&N through the Apple app store, saying that Apple should “have the flexibility to innovate.” Judge Denise Cote maintained that placing restrictions on the App Store was a disturbance to Apple’s business.
She also doesn’t favor broad oversight, but expressed that Apple hasn’t provided her the assurance that they have committed to changing their behavior.
You can read more about the case here, here, and here.
All New Paperwhite
Earlier this week Amazon announced the All-New Kindle Paperwhite that you can pre-order today for delivery in October (wi-fi only) or November (wi-fi and 3G).
The original Paperwhite is my go-to Kindle for reading. Improvements include a faster processor, a better built-in light, improved touch technology (Yeah!); and keeping your place while moving within the book.
The new version will also feature software additions for vocabulary and reference purposes.
The Station Series
The first five novels in David Downings The Station Series are selling for only 99p each today. These espionage thrillers are based around Anglo-American character John Russell exploring Germany in the 1940s. They are known as The Station Series because they are all named after train stations, mostly in Berlin.
The last book in the series published in June 2013: Masaryk Station (£6.59) Europe, 1948. The continent is once again divided: into the Soviet-controlled East, and the US-dominated West. John Russell and his old comrade-in-espionage Shchepkin need to find a way out of the dangerous, morally murky world they have both inhabited for far too long. But they can’t just walk away: if they want to escape with their lives, they must uncover a secret so damaging that they can buy their safety with silence.
As an avid reader of Christian fiction, I’ve noticed certain things tend to show up in these novels. Here’s a list of the top 9 things I’ve found:
1. Pies. This is especially — but not exclusively — prevalent in historical fiction. The Anonymous Bride (£3.23) is a delightful romance that hinged on a pie contest. (Get the Texas Boardinghouse Brides Trilogy for just £1.99 – SuperCheap for three novels!)
2. Bonnets. Particularly of the Amish variety – but also Mennonite and prairie types and some regency ones for good measure.
3. Cowboys. I have no problem with this.
Author Christine Lynxwiler even made fun of the trend in her fabulous contemporary novel Along Came A Cowboy. (£7.41)
4. Single Ministers. In real life, single ministers over the age of 24 are few and far between, but you can’t throw a hymnal in Christian fiction without hitting a handsome, young (yet spiritually mature) preacher who needs a wife. See The Preacher’s Bride (£3.96).
5. Coffee Shops. I once heard coffee described as “Christian crack.” Sounds about right.
6. Widows/Widowers. You’ll find more grieving widows on the shelves of the church library than in the senior adult Bible study. Waiting for Summer’s Return is about a widow and it’s free on Kindle right now.
7. On a related note: orphans.
8. Strong Women. In a typical romance, the woman will be sitting around waiting for a man to come rescue her and faint with relief when he shows up and takes care of her problems.
In Christian fiction, by contrast, the recently widowed but still beautiful Amish woman probably already has the bad guys tied up in the barn and two pies cooling in the window before the hero rides on to the scene. Then she faints from surprise and the single minister has the privilege of rescuing her.
9. My Issues. It’s happened so often now that I’m no longer surprised that the heroine in the book I’m reading is dealing with the exact same thing I’m facing. When a make-believe character finds the strength to persevere and trust in God, it gives me hope to do the same.
Recently I read Just Jane, a novel based on the life of Jane Austen. I found it so encouraging because…. Well, I guess I like to think Jane Austen and I have a lot in common.
All of these and more are reasons why I thoroughly enjoy reading Christian fiction, even in light of some good-natured fun.
Set in the South, volumes one and two from the Cape Refuge suspense series by Terri Blackstock come together under one cover. A unique island setting, close-knit relationships, fast-paced action, and underlying themes of faith combine to make for reading you can’t put down at a value you can’t turn down.
Buy this bundle of Cape Refuge and Southern Storm together for only £1.99 – SuperCheap!
Click here to purchase Southern Storm-Cape Refuge 2 in 1
Auto-Rip for the Music Lover
Amazon’s Auto-Rip program is adding a new dimension to music. When you buy eligible vinyl records or CDs you automatically get a free mp3 version of the album. This makes it easy to listen to your music on your Kindle, iPod, or tablet. And if you’re like me and like to listen to CDs in the car, it’s a great combination. The program may even help rejuvenate sales of vinyl records and CDs.
Not all CDs or songs are eligible for Auto-Rip. I bought a CD two years ago and it was automatically added to my Amazon Cloud Player – except for two songs. Thousands of albums are eligible for auto-rip.
Amazon.co.uk is currently offering a 3-for-2 promotion on more than 350 CDs with the auto-rip option. When you buy three of the eligible CDs, the lowest-priced one is free. That’s a deal! Three albums in your hands and three mp3s in your cloud for the price of two albums.
Three popular albums in the 3-for-2 promotion are:
You can listen to digital music on the Kindle Touch, Keyboard, and K2, all Kindle Fire models, smartphones and more. Follow these links to see all auto-rip eligible CDs or vinyl records.
Read about auto-rip, the benefits, how it works, and more here. You will want to read the terms and conditions, too.
Summer holiday break
We took a summer holiday reading break in July and changed the site a bit. Please vote in the poll below to tell us what you liked. You may vote for more than one of the choices.
Bonus Housekeeping on Sunday
This coming Sunday, August 11, we will be posting a bonus Housekeeping for readers who enjoy inspirational fiction. You can look forward to an article about the nine things that appear frequently in inspirational fiction; book reviews; and cheap reads.
Each of these novels below is selling for only 99p each - SuperCheap!
Susie’s 2013 So Far Top Picks
I must admit that when this book reached the end of the trail and those cattle were delivered to Montana, I nearly shed a tear. I felt like I had walked every step of the trail from the Rio Grande to Montana with the Circle Dot outfit.
The Log of a Cowboy is actually a novel published in 1903, though author Andy Adams based it on his experiences driving cattle on the trail. I decided to read it for research, and ended up being moved by this authentic story. And it’s priced at just £1.28.
The Whole Truth is a legal thriller featuring a lawyer recovering from a coke addiction who drives an ancient Cadillac. There’s a lot to love here. This book from attorney-turned-writer James Scott Bell kept me guessing. Just when I thought Steve Conroy couldn’t do one more thing to mess up his life, I was proven wrong. Yet I was rooting for him the whole time. It is available for £6.49.
I read a lot of Christian fiction and At Every Turn was a refreshing historical romance.
Alyce Benson, who secretly loves to drive automobiles, makes an impetus pledge to give money to missionaries in Africa. Her efforts to fulfill the pledge lead her on a funny journey with a most lovable hero. This book is now selling for £3.42.
Paula’s 2013 So Far Top Picks
My goal of a book a week in 2013 is well ahead of schedule as I have just finished the 50th book, as well as 60 novellas and shorter reads. Picking three was challenging, so I’ve chosen four – because I can.
Beloved Irish writer Maeve Binchy’s last novel was released after her death. A Week in Winter (£6.49) is set on the rugged Irish coast and filled with classic Binchy characters. The first half tells the story of Chicky Starr and a lie she perpetuates all of her adult life. After 30 years Chicky returns to her hometown to renovate an old stone mansion into an inn. The second half of the book tells the story of the eclectic guests who visit during the inn’s opening week. The book is a bittersweet read.
Almost all romances are written about new love, but Nicolas Sparks’ The Notebook (£3.99) is an emotional novel of lasting love told from a man’s perspective. The love Noah Calhoun had for his wife is the love every woman desires from her spouse. Sparks stated that the novel was inspired by his wife’s grandparents.
The Homecoming (£3.35) is the sequel to The Unfinished Gift (£6.88) both by Dan Walsh. Set during the final year of World War II, Shawn Collins faces life without his beloved wife Elizabeth while serving in the Army Air Corps and providing care for his son Patrick. Katherine Townsend, the social worker who cared for Patrick when Shawn’s wife died, fills a need in both their lives in this heartwarming inspirational novel. Walsh’s writing of wartime events was realistic and suspenseful.
Lauren Royal has re-issued her backlisted titles of several historical romance trilogies. Tempting Juliana (£4.11) can be read as a stand-alone novel, but is part of the Temptations Trilogy (£7.49 bundle). Lady Juliana Chase has the best of intentions: Her friend Amanda must find a husband. Dr. James Trevor is a lonely widower who needs a wife, whether he realizes it or not. What could possibly go wrong?
E-books in the News
Apple on Trial
The United States Department of Justice trial against Apple for e-book price fixing has begun. All publishers initially included in the suit have settled; paid any fines levied; and agreed to other provisions of the settlement. This article from Publishers Weekly gives a recap of the findings from the first five days of the trial.
Do we comprehend less when we read on digital devises? Research from the 1990s indicated that comprehension suffered when reading on digital devises. However, as we have adapted to technology, using it more and for more reasons, new research is split between no significant difference when reading from paper or a screen and a decrease in comprehension when reading from a screen. Read more about the research in this article from Scientific America.
Cheap Coming-of-Age Novel
The Fort (£1.99) During the waning summer days of 1987, a deranged Vietnam vet stalks Grand Rapids, Michigan, abducting and murdering nameless victims from the streets, leaving no leads for police. That is, until he picks up sixteen-year-old Molly. From their treehouse fort in the woods, three neightborhood boys spy the killer holding a gun to Molly’s back, they go to the police—only to have their story disregarded. But the boys know evil lives in their midst. A growing sense of honor and urgency forces the boys to take action—to find Molly, to protect themselves, to stand guard for the last long days of summer.
At turns heartbreaking and breathtakingly thrilling, The Fort perfectly renders a coming-of-age story in the 1980s, in those final days of childhood independence, discovery, and paradise lost.
Ten signs you are addicted to books
1. When you were little, books were your best friends in the world. My favorite was All-of-a-Kind Family (£9.96 paperback) by Sydney Taylor.
2. When you’re reading a good book, you forget to eat or sleep.
3. You’ve been traumatized by things that “only” happened in books you read..
4. Rainy days are better than sunny days because you spend the day reading.
5. Your idea of a fun weekend is rearranging your Kindle collections6. Anytime you undertake any idea or project, the first step is to read a lot of books about it.
7. The book is always, always, always better than the movie.
8. Finishing a book you loved is like losing a best friend.
9. When you’re between books, you feel lost.
10. But when someone reads a book you recommend to them, your faith in humanity is completely restored.
Adapted from buzzfeed.com. NOTE: Buzzfeed’s list contains offensive language.
Cheap reads and more cheap reads
Prologue books has reduced the price of almost all of their books to only 99p each. More than 400 novels are available – mysteries, crime fiction, Westerns, fantasies, and science fiction. Follow this link to access all the books, sorted by the average customer rating. Six of the most popular books are below – all priced at just 99p each.
Where my mind wanders when I can’t sleep
• Did I use the £ symbol on the United Kingdom posts and the $ symbol on the United States posts today? If the British use 99p for 99 pence; why doesn’t the United States use 99c for 99 cents?
• Is gluten-free really the answer to every person’s health and diet woes? Am I wrong to practice “Give us this day our daily bread” and enjoy it?
• What publishers are going to merge next? The big players are eyeing each other; trying to find a suitable dance partner. No one wants to be a wallflower because then they will have to declare they can go it alone. It’s Victorian drama all over again.
• Why do so many teen and young adult books dwell on dark subjects such as death, abuse, destructive behavior and broken relationships? Teen fiction needs to foster adventure, growth, unlimited potential, achievement and hope.
• Will I live long enough to read even 20% of the books on my Kindle?
Post Times – And I don’t mean horse races
A few weeks ago we implemented a change on our posting schedule for the weekends – posting all the posts in the early morning hours. Please vote in the poll below to tell us how you like the change.
Cheap reads in a bundle
Donald Harington spent nearly all of his early summers in the Ozark mountain hamlet of Drakes Creek. There, before he lost his hearing to meningitis at the age of twelve, he listened carefully to the vanishing Ozark folk language and the old tales told by story-tellers. His first novel was published by Random House in 1965, and since then he has published twelve other novels, most of them set in the Ozark hamlet of his own creation, Stay More, based loosely upon Drakes Creek.
Today you can buy 15 of Harington’s novels for £11.97 when you buy the three volumes below. Individually these novels are selling for £3.99 each, so I strongly recommend you purchase the volumes for your Kindle library now while they are supercheap.
The Nearly Complete Works of Donald Harington Volume 1 (£3.99) The Nearly Complete Works of Donald Harington includes five complete novels: (1) Lightning Bug; (2) Some Other Place. The Right Place; (3) The Architecture of the Ozarks; (4) The Cockroaches of Stay More; (5) The Choiring of the Trees.
The Nearly Complete Works of Donald Harington Volume 2 (£3.99) The Nearly Complete Works of Donald Harington includes five complete novels: (1) Ekaterina; (2) Butterfly Weed; (3) When Angels Rest; (4) Thirteen Albatrosses (or, Falling off the Mountain); (5) With.
The Nearly Complete Works of Donald Harington Volume 3 (£3.99) The Nearly Complete Works of Donald Harington includes five complete novels: (1) The Pitcher Shower; (2) Farther Along; (3) Enduring; (4) Let Us Build Us a City; (5) The Cherry Pit.
Kindle Store’s Top 100 Paid List – Is it valid?
Some readers and almost all authors live and die by the bestsellers list, but how valid is the Kindle Store’s Top 100 Paid list?
Amazon tells us the list is updated hourly and contains best selling items. But Amazon has no adjustment for the price of the item when sold.
Hardbound books on The Times Bestsellers list sell for expected prices that all readers know. To be in the top ten of the list week after week means that the buying public continues to spend £10 – £20 for a copy of the book.
The Kindle Store Top 100 is a list skewed. An author or publisher can reset the price of a book to 99p and sell thousands of copies to move into the top 20 of books sold. Consumers might buy the book because the price is so low and they are willing to give it a try. These same consumers would never buy the book at a higher price.
The price can then be increased to £5.99, but the book remains in the top 100 list until other books outsell it according to Amazon’s criteria.
I believe that the inclusion of the book in the Top 100 list with the increased price is misleading to buyers. If I did not know that the book had sold at a much cheaper price that caused it to reach the Top 100 list, then I am under the impression that this book reached its popularity selling at £5.99. As a consumer, my first thought is that the book must be a great read if so many others are buying the book at that price.
I don’t have a solution for how to account for a price change of a book in the top 100. Perhaps it should be pulled from the list if the price fluctuates by more than a set percentage of the price that caused the price to reach the list. Publishers and authors won’t be happy with any adjustments, but consumers deserve honesty in how a book reaches the Top 100.
A common example of this is the Kindle Daily Deal which often appears in the Top 100 list for several days following its feature at a very cheap price. As of 1:00am today, four of the top 30 were previous days’ Daily Deal books.
Should Amazon take price into consideration when compiling the list? Is it misleading? Any other ideas on how to account for price changes? Leave a comment to let us know what you are thinking.
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and moved to the United States in 1980. His first novel, The Kite Runner, was an international bestseller, published in 34 countries. In 2006 he was named a US goodwill envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency. He lives in northern California.
Thousand Splendid Suns (80p) Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.
By the same author:
The Kite Runner (£1.79) Set in Afghanistan and the United States between the 1970s to the present day, it is a heartbreaking tale of a young boy, Amir, and his best friend who are torn apart. This is a classic word-of-mouth novel and is sure to become as universally loved as The God of Small Things and The Glass Palace.