Bloomberg.com is reporting that Amazon is developing a premium Alexa/Echo with improved speakers and a screen. According to the article Amazon is “trying to capitalize on the surprise success of its voice-controlled home gadgets.”
Anonymous sources say the new device will have a 7″ touchscreen to give easier access to popular content such as calendar, news and weather forecasts. The new unit will tilt upwards to be used while the user is standing, such as in a kitchen. This Alexa/Echo will have higher grade speakers and will be introduced in April 2017 according to the sources.
Read Bloomberg’s article here.
Paula’s thoughts: A touchscreen with the device is a welcome improvement. Having the Alexa app on an external device is not convenient. I’ll let you know as soon as the next Alexa is introduced.
Amazon is encouraging indie authors to publish in 2017 and will be showcasing a collection of books published via Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace and audiobooks created via Audible’s Audiobook Creation Exchange.
Read about Amazon’s publishing platforms and the support they offer here. You will also find helpful reference guides and books of advice to read on your Kindle.
If your New Year’s resolution is to be more creative, write a book or do something outside your comfort zone, check out the resources available from Amazon.
Don’t miss your chance to rent a popular video!
Amazon is offering more than 49,000 movies to rent for 99 cents. Sadly, the deal is limited to one per customer and account. Click here to browse all the videos available to rent. Choose your favorite and follow the instructions carefully.
Deal expires Monday, January 23. When renting, you have 30 days to start watching this video, and 24 hours to finish once started. Read more in this post from last night.
The eyes of the world will be on Washington, DC, tomorrow as our next President will be inaugurated. These four political thrillers are selling for only 99 cents each.
Amazon is offering a deal on Certified Refurbished Fire HD 10 Tablet Wi-Fi 16 GB w/ Special Offers . Priced at $199.99, you will save an additional $50 when you use the code FIRE10 at checkout. Deal expires January 15.
A Certified Refurbished Fire HD 10 is refurbished, tested, and certified to look and work like new. And this item comes with a one-year limited warranty and service, for more information go here.
Yesterday Amazon announced a fee-free Visa credit card loaded with perks for its large Prime Member base.
The metal card (yes, metal) comes with these benefits:
• 5% cash back on all Amazon purchases
• 2% cash back at an oddly specific mix of restaurants, gas stations and drug stores
• 1% cash back everywhere else
• No foreign transaction fees
• While slightly on the high end, the card’s interest rates are otherwise well within normal range
Read more about the card here.
Download the Kindle version of White Fang free and you will be able to download the companion audiobook free, too.
Book description: WHITE FANG is a novel by American author Jack London (1876-1916) – and the name of the book’s eponymous character, a wild wolfdog. First serialized in Outing magazine, it was published in 1906. The story takes place in Yukon Territory, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush and details White Fang’s journey to domestication.
New year, new goals!
Do you have a reading goal for 2017? What about a reading challenge?
The sample below was pulled from the web. All of us have favorite genre and need a prod to expand our selections. If you input “reading challenge” in an internet search engine, you will find several others – perhaps one that is better for you.
Whether you follow a plan or free style, we wish you a wonderful year of reading in the coming months. We will be sharing our favorite reads from 2016 in the coming weeks.
While 2016 was coming to an end, the wonderful credit from Apple that I received June 21 came to an end, too. Even though the credit could be used for practically anything purchased from Amazon, I zealously guarded the funds and used them only for Kindle book purchases.
Publishers have slashed prices on award-wining books for children and pre-teens. Our jr. site has many of the books and I’ll be posting a more as the prices hold. I tried to put the award name in the post title to help you find them.
If you love a good story, shorter in length and loved by the young-at-heart, check out these six award winners selling for only $1.99 each today.
If you are a member of Audible, you are getting a Christmas present. As a member, you are already able to listen to Channels – a service that offers podcasts, curated playlists and more. The benefit has been welcomed, but many users were frustrated they could not enjoy Channels on their Fire tablets.
The week Audible announced that their hard work has brought Channels to the Kindle Fire.
As a reward for our patience, members of Audible are being given a free credit to download any audiobook available. However, you must claim the credit via an email that should have already arrived in your mailbox. The subject is: Audible Channels – Listen now on Fire tablets
The credit is good until March 19, 2017. Join Audible here,.
If you are a member of Prime and you haven’t purchased Music Unlimited yet, you can receive a $20 credit when you enroll today. Prime members pay only $7.99 a month or $79.99 for a full-year subscriptions. With this credit, you pay only $59.99 for a full year access of millions of tunes.
Sign up for Music Unlimited here .
If you are looking for a reliable tablet at a great price, you can purchase the Fire Tablet, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB (Includes Special Offers) for only $49.99 (regularly $69.99). Buy black, blue or magenta and still receive it before Christmas.
All Kindle Fire devices are selling at reduced prices. Now’s the time to buy a spare or to give to someone special.
This holiday season you can give the gift of Prime membership for 3 months ($33) or 12 months ($99). Amazon will send your gift recipient an email on the day you choose along with redemption instructions. The gift recipient can start their Prime membership right away. If the recipient is already a Prime member, the gift can be exchanged for an Amazon.com Gift Card. The gift membership does not automatically renew and is not eligible for promotional offers.
You can even give yourself a Prime membership.
Prime members enjoy:
• FREE Two-Day Shipping on over 30 million items
• Watch thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video
• Stream millions of songs and thousands of playlists
• Also get free Kindle e-books, unlimited photo storage, exclusive access to deals, Twitch, and much more
With just ten more days before Christmas, a gift card is a great option. Choose from Amazon or many other retailers including restaurants, department and specialty stores.
If you enjoy young adult fiction, publishers are offering great deals on selections for middle grade tweens and teens. Buy the Warriors 3-Book Collection for only $3.99.
Salt to the Sea is a popular, highly-reviewed World War II historical fiction novel selling for $1.99.
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.