When I wrote the post “You Should Read This Book”, about where I get book suggestions, I can’t believe I left out Amazon. This probably hurts their feelings, since they go to the trouble of sending me an email Every. Single. Day. You too can have this pleasure by ordering anything, ever, from them. After that, all you have to do is LOOK at an item and you will occasionally receive an email that says, “People who liked this item also liked…” For instance, I once looked at toaster ovens on Amazon, so I will occasionally get an email about other kitchen appliances I might like.
The thing is, if it were any company other than Amazon, that daily email would have become annoying very quickly, and I would long ago have unsubscribed. But I actually like these emails. I’ve gotten some great ideas from them. I find their suggestions are often eerily right. What’s funny is that when I get one that says, “You might like….”, some of the suggestions are in fact books I’ve already read.
Once a month they send out an email that tells you 100 books you can get for $3.99 or less (for Kindle). I’m not often interested in these books, but this month’s included two I intend to buy. One of the reasons I was so intrigued is that one of the books listed is Timothy Egan’s “The Worst Hard Time”. That book is a history of the Dust Bowl and is in my top three of the best non-fiction books I ever read. (The other two are “In The Heart of the Sea” and “The Tiger”.) “In the Heart of the Sea” (Nathaniel Philbrick) is the true story of the sinking of the whaleship Essex in the Pacific Ocean–by a whale. It’s also a fascinating history of whaling in the U.S., out of Nantucket, once arguably the premier whaling location in the world. I found that book by one of my typical methods–cruising the library. “The Tiger” (John Vaillant) is the story of a particular man-eating tiger in the Primorye region of Russia. I learned of that book from a friend (one of my other preferred methods), actually a close friend of my sister’s.
The first of the books I intend to buy is “Already Gone” ($1.99) by John Rector, from the “mystery and thriller” category. The second is “John Dies At The End” ($3.99) by David Wong, because, after all, how can you resist that title?
Meanwhile, I have waiting for me “The Story of Beautiful Girl” (on Kindle), which my sister gave me as a gift. Since she rarely makes recommendations, the fact that she gave this one to me makes me think it must be a fantastic book. I also have three library books waiting, which I have now renewed for the third and final time. The chances of my getting around to them in time are somewhere between slim and none.
Speaking of Amazon and Kindle, a few words about the Kindle Fire. I’ve had one since they first came out in December 2011, again, a gift from my sister. And I love it for a multitude of reasons. Last week, Amazon announced that the Fire is officially sold out. What? How could that happen? I should have been smarter–the only way Amazon would let that happen is if they intend to come out with a new model. In fact, this week it seems they are making an announcement which is expected to be the intro to what people are calling (in the absence of any real info) the Kindle Fire 2. (A very funny comment I saw was, so what will they call this one? The Blaze?) They are also expected to intro an update to Kindle Touch which will make it more competitive with the Nook.
Here are a couple of things I hope they will improve: first, the sound. Sound on the Kindle Fire sucks, as in, you can’t hear it. I bought a cheapo (abour $15) external speaker, which helps, but the speaker is too cheap to be as much help as the Fire needs. Mostly I buy books, so that doesn’t seem important, but I’ve also bought music. I likely will not buy more unless I get a better external speaker, and forget movies. Who wants to watch movies on a 7″ screen anyway? Maybe on an airplane, or some other really confined space.
Second, I hope they add 3G or 4G. Unlike some other Kindle models, the Fire only has Wifi. Which is annoying and inconvenient for me personally. Which poses a problem for the aforementioned airplane scenario. Unless you specifically make an effort to download it to your device, your music and movies are stored in the Amazon Cloud–which you have to have Wifi to access. And music and movies eat up memory very quickly. The good news is that you can download from the Cloud to your device, and then send it back to the Cloud when you’re done.
These are my two complaints. It’s also true that you can access the Internet, but not well. That might be more important to other people. I don’t really want or need to access the Internet via Kindle. But I suppose if they really want to compete with the iPad, that would also be a necessary improvement.
I love books, and Kindle, and Amazon, although they are all imperfect. But I think that’s the very definition of love.