You had better watch out! The Christmas holiday will be here before you know it. Days for shopping are slipping away. If you need a few suggestions, Amazon has created more than 25 gift guides. Categories include electronics, toys, home, handmade, gift cards, clothing, sports, luxury and beauty, books, grocery, baby and more.
Personally, our calendars are double-booked. We are liquidating our father’s farm equipment via an auction on Saturday and will be hosting visting family through the weekend. The local university football team continues to win in the play-off system and as loyal fans, we attend the games. The full-time jobs we have are requiring travel and extended hours the next two weeks.
In the middle of all this, my reliable laptop kicked the bucket. Considering the hours it has worked the last two years, it probably just plain wore out. A technician is working to recover my files and I will be purchasing a new laptop this evening. The 4-year-old backup is working in a pinch, but is slower than molasses in January.
We will hold on tight and do all we can to keep the site going through the chaos. We appreciate your patience!
When you don’t have much time to read because of over-packed schedules, short stories are welcome diversions. Bernie the detective and Bernie his dog are popular crime sleuths. Download this holiday short read for just 99 cents today.
Santa 365 (99 cents Audiobook $2.99) He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. This year, jolly old St. Nick knows Bernie has been sleeping on preparations for a special Christmas celebration with his son Charlie. Enter Plumpy Napoleon, fresh from a short stint in prison, to save Bernie from the naughty list.
Buy these romance bundles for $1.99 or $2.99 each. These are full-length novels.
The digital revolution has opened the world of audiobooks to a new audience as listeners discover the ease of downloading the recorded version of books to smartphones and tablets. Sales of audiobooks continue to rise, but are still a small portion of publishers’ total business.
The industry is scrambling to keep up with the demand the popularity has created. In 2011, 7,237 audiobooks were published. In 2015, the number was nearly five times larger – 35,574.
Celebrity narrators have been recruited to promote and encourage consumers to give digital books a listen.
Carol sent a note recently that she had purchased the Kindle version of Anne of Green Gables for only 81 cents and then purchased the audiobook for $1.99 more. Rachel McAdams narrates this classic children’s story. Remember Ms. McAdams from The Notebook, Wedding Crashers, and Sherlock Holmes?
For another celebrity-read classic, Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation TV Series) narrates The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Download the Kindle version free and buy the companion audiobook read by Offerman for only $1.99. Both of these Kindle/audiobook combinations are great gifts for children, too.
NOTE: You do not need to be a member of Audible to buy the companion audiobook when you have purchased the Kindle version.
Read more about celebrity narration in this USA Today article.
A roadtrip is a great time to enjoy an audiobook. My husband and I recently laughed, sighed and cried through My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South by Rick Bragg. The Kindle version is only $1.99; add the audiobook for $4.49 more. (That’s a steal of a price!)
Mr. Bragg narrates short chapters of his family, his childhood, his heritage, Southern cuisine, football and other topics unique to the Southeastern United States. Soft-spoken with a gentle accent, Bragg brings his pre-teen antics to life, endears listeners to his mother and her sisters and reflects on the changes that have occurred in his home state of Alabama. A very personal book, Mr. Bragg is honest in his praise and criticism of himself, his family and his heritage.
My husband described the book as “warts and all stories.” We both highly recommend it.
Publishers are offering great prices on Christmas romances this month. These four are selling for only $1.99 each. Enjoy a happily-ever-after book this weekend.
Carol sent us a note yesterday asking for reading recommendations:
I have a question that maybe you or some of the readers can answer about some Christmas fiction. I’m having a hard time finding a good Christmas themed story that isn’t romance, inspirational or cozy mystery. Anybody know of such stories?
If you have a suggestion or two, click on the “Read More…” at the bottom of this post and leave a comment.
A few of my favorite Christmas reads that fit Carol’s request are:
Christmas with Tucker, A Dog Named Christmas and A Christmas Home ($9.99 each) – Three heartwarming novels by Greg Kincaid. My favorite is A Dog Named Christmas; the audiobook is excellent.
The Christmas Train ($6.99) – A somewhat predictable non-thriller, still a good read, by David Baldacci.
Skipping Christmas ($7.99) – A satirical look at Christmas by John Grisham.
Now through December 31, you can download the audiobook The Invisible Man free.
The link above takes you to a webpage on Audible.com that includes a letter from Don Katz, titled How Ralph Ellison Changed My Life. As a college student, Don Katz, author and founder and CEO of Audible, met Ralph Ellison. The author of ‘Invisible Man’ introduced his protégé to the wonders of oral storytelling.
Ralph Elllison’s Invisible Man is a monumental novel, one that can well be called an epic of 20th-century African-American life. It is a strange story, in which many extraordinary things happen, some of them shocking and brutal, some of them pitiful and touching – yet always with elements of comedy and irony and burlesque that appear in unexpected places.
Amazon has announced that the Family Plan for Music Unlimited is now available. The Family Plan allows each member of your family to enjoy all the benefits of Amazon Music Unlimited for only $14.99/month (limit of 6 family members in a subscription). Prime members can enjoy the annual Family Plan for $149/year (Best value – 2 months free).
Accounts are not shared and there is no common family profile. Each family member has an Amazon account with personalized recommendations. The only thing that’s shared is the payment. One family member is responsible for the monthly charge, using a shared payment method.
You’ll see all of your own music, library, playlists, and personalized recommendations. Each family member has the same functionality as an Individual Plan subscription.
Don’t forget to play any song, album, station, or playlist on Amazon Music Unlimited each day through December 1. You will be entered into a random drawing for a Bose home audio bundle and Echo Dot.
In anticipation of the launch of the Amazon Original Series The Grand Tour, Amazon is offering a limited time promotion–new members can sign up for Amazon Prime for just $79, a 20% savings on the first year’s annual membership fee.
The first episode of The Grand Tour will premiere exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, November 18, and the one-day discount will be available starting Friday at 12:00am ET and ending at 11:59pm PT. New members can sign up for this limited-time Prime offer at here.
New episodes of The Grand Tour will be released weekly for 12 weeks.
Description: Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: of the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and her betrayal of him.
The Guardian of the United Kingdom published an article citing the revival of traditional print books. Simon Jenkins, the author, states that digital sales have declined since 2011.
Several companies have discontinued their digital sales in the UK: Sony stopped production of their e-readers; Waterstone (a large bookstore chain) removed Kindle e-readers from their stores due to “pitiful sales”; and B&N shuttered its Nook UK store in March 2016.
The Brits love the traditional book. The Publishers Association (PA) believes that
Readers take a pleasure in a physical book that does not translate well on to digital. Virtual books, like virtual holidays or virtual relationships, are not real.
The PA states that readers want the experience of reading a book and e-readers just don’t give it. Read the full article here.
Amazon Coin Deal for first-time customers
If you’ve purchased Amazon Coins before, you can still get them at up to 25% off.
You can purchase All-New Echo Dot at a reduced price. Place three Echo Dot devices in your cart and receive $20 off your order with code DOT3PACK. Or add 6 and pay for just 5 with code DOT6PACK.
Amazon Echo is not required to use Echo Dot – give a few as gifts this holiday season.
Amazon.com Launches Black Friday Deals Store
Tuesday Amazon announced the launch of their Black Friday Deals Store. Amazon promises tens of thousands of deals this holiday season with new deals as often as every five minutes. Items you can purchase range from HD TVs to kitchen staples to this year’s popular toys.
Take the guesswork out of shopping by browsing more than a dozen curated gift guides. You may find the perfect give for everyone on your list. Browse the Electronics Gift Guide; Home Gift Guide and Handmade at Amazon Holiday Gift Guide to start your holiday shopping.
Why Most Amazon Reader Reviews are Worthless
Peter Riva, an veteran agent in the publishing business, penned an article in Publishers Weekly stating his observation that “most Amazon and Barnes & Noble reader reviews are either fraudulent or, at best, useless in assessing the true merit of any given title.”
Riva based his comments on the practice of major publishers to manipulate purchases of books in select bookstores and to have reviews in place as soon as a book releases. Riva states that “the only thing driving sales at Amazon is the number of reader reviews coupled with the number of stars for any given title. No blurb or traditional literary review counts in Amazon’s positioning of any title.”
Read Riva’s column here and determine for yourself if he has a valid point.
Cheap Reads – True Crime
Halloween has past, but true crime books are often more frightening than fiction. Buy these four accounts of wicked crimes for only 99 cents/$1.99 each today.
Author Paul Beatty has won the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The Sellout ($9.99). Beatty is the first American to win this coveted recognition since it was expanded to include books by authors from outside the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations. The prize also includes a £50,000 award.
The Man Booker Prize is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel, written in the English language. The winner is generally assured of international renown and success.
Many of us place orders with Amazon that require physical delivery. Did you know that Amazon has recourse for you if your package arrives later than promised?
If your order qualifies for Guaranteed Accelerated Delivery, your shipping costs can be refunded if Amazon’s promised delivery time is missed. The list of conditions is long and you will have to decide if it is worth contacting customer care.
If you are a Prime member, a late delivery may extend your Prime membership by one month. If you have repeated late deliveries, you may be eligible to receive up to 12 extensions in a year. To me, that’s worth a call to customer care.
Read more about Amazon’s delivery policy here.
Amazon has added Twitch Prime (premium video game streaming content) to the growing list of goodies for Prime membership. Twitch’s website lists these benefits:
• Ad-Free Viewing Experience Across Twitch: avoid viewing ads during the broadcast.
• Free Twitch Channel Subscription: Prime members receive a free Twitch channel subscription every 30 days to use on a Partnered channel of their choice.
• Member Access to Free Game Content: get access to select free games and in-game content that will be available through Twitch Prime, including access to content before it is available to the general public.
• Exclusive Member Savings on Physical Games: On Amazon, Prime members receive discounted pricing on physical new releases from pre-order through two weeks after launch, including on pre-orders and collector’s editions. Members also get release-day delivery, and the Pre-Order Price Guarantee, ensuring that on release day, you pay the lowest price offered on Amazon for these games, regardless of what the price was when you pre-ordered.
Go here to connect your Twitch account to your Prime membership.
Cheap Reads – Historical fiction bundle for only 99 cents
Buy three books in The Knights Templar series by Michael Jecks for only 99 cents today. Then pick up the other books in the series for only 99 cents each.
THE MAD MONK OF GIDLEIGH; THE TEMPLAR’S PENANCE and THE OUTLAWS OF ENNOR.
More books in The Knights Templar series are selling for only 99 cents each. Browse the 15 books selling for 99 cents each here.
The Hanjin Shipping Company, which filed for bankruptcy in August, has had its ships stranded at sea or seized by creditors, causing weeks of delay for major publishing houses awaiting inventory.
One container ship was scheduled to arrive in New York on September 12, but did not dock until October 14. The ship was carrying books from a number of publishers including HarperCollins, Bloomsbury, St. Martin’s Press, Viz Media and others.
Downloading your books through Kindle means never having to think about Korean shipping companies declaring bankruptcy.
Download a free audiobook today. Narrated by Sean Penn, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff (Free) is a short listen of two and a half hours.
Description: By turns tender and terrifying, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff captures America on the verge of political upheaval in 2016 and introduces us to a man who just might be able to save us from the oncoming horror. Yes, Bob Honey – carnival carny, sewage specialist, and government operative, among other occupations – has spent years in preparation, crisscrossing the world in the employ of a mysterious government program that pays in small bills.
Historical Fiction Bundle – Today Only
For those who snaps pictures often or have thousands of digital images, Amazon has announced that Prime members can now share unlimited photo storage space and up to 5GB of video storage space with up to five people through Family Vault, a private, easily-accessible home for photos and videos. The sharing with others is without additional cost when you are a member of Prime.
With the all-new Family Vault, bringing family photos together is as easy as one-click or swipe from a computer or mobile device. Customers can start using the new features of Prime Photos today at http://www.amazon.com/photos or through Prime Photos mobile apps.
Prime Photo also has smart search technology. Prime Photos’ new search technology makes finding photos based on people, places, or things a snap. Looking for pictures from a wedding? Search for “wedding” and relevant photos will show up.
Customers can now order photo books, cards, and prints directly on the web from their Prime Photos account. Amazon Print products start at just nine cents a print, and ships with free delivery for Prime members. Customers can learn more and order prints today by visiting www.amazon.com/printing.
Amazon is making a sweet offer for anyone who uploads even one photo through Prime Photos. Through Monday, October 31, you will receive a $20 credit toward computers and tablets, $30 credit toward cameras and $10 credit toward software when you sign up and save a photo.
An email will be sent on or about November 3 with your discount codes which must be used by December 3. As usual, there are rules which can be read here at the bottom of the webpage.
Yesterday Amazon announced Amazon Music Unlimited – a streaming music service for a monthly subscription fee. Per the press release the
on-demand music service redefines music streaming by putting a catalog of tens of millions of songs and thousands of hand-curated playlists and personalized stations not just at the tips of your fingers, but also on the tip of your tongue. Amazon Music Unlimited makes discovering new music or listening to favorites easier and more fun than ever with a redesigned Amazon Music app as well as with innovative new Alexa voice controls.
Amazon Music Unlimited is available at the breakthrough price of $7.99/month or $79/year for Prime members–$9.99/month for non-Prime customers. That’s one account, all devices. A family plan is coming soon for up to 6 family members for $14.99 a month.
You can download for offline listening, too!
Exclusive “for Echo” subscription plan is available for only $3.99/month with full access to Amazon Music Unlimited.
This new service for the Echo makes having an Echo or buying one a great idea! Here are just a few of the things Alexa can do with this subscription:
• Ready to listen to Sia? Just ask, “Alexa, play Sia” and Alexa will create a playlist of Sia’s most popular songs
• Want to hear the latest hit by Green Day? Just ask, “Alexa, play Green Day’s new song” and Alexa will play their latest single, “Bang Bang”
• Have words to a song stuck in your head but can’t remember the name of the song? All you have to do is say a few words and Alexa will play the song. For example, just ask, “Alexa, play the song that goes, ‘I was doing just fine before I met you'” and Alexa will play, “Closer” by The Chainsmokers
• Want to re-live the music from your college days? You can ask Alexa to play hit music from a decade or a specific year or month. Just ask, “Alexa, play the most popular rock from the 90s” and Alexa will take you back in time
When you download the free Kindle version of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson, you can also download the audiobook for free. This novella is about a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde. There are two personalities within Dr Jekyll, one apparently good and the other evil.