Category: Housekeeping
Housekeeping: Kindle News Round-Up; Cheap Reads from the Jr. Edition 0 comments

Kindle in the News Round-Up
Several news articles have been published recently about the Kindle and Amazon. I will touch on the highlights and link you to the articles if you want to read more.
 
File this under Don’t Make Us Come Over There: Two weeks ago we told you about an article announcing that Barnes & Noble, Borders, and independent book sellers were not going to carry Amazon-published print books in their stores. GigaOM published an article just a few days later about a rumor that Amazon is considering opening a boutique-style retail store in Seattle. If the store is successful and Amazon takes the concept nationwide, B&N, Borders and independents may wish they had a re-do on the idea of not carrying those Amazon-published books.
 
File this under Irony, Just Irony: CNET reports that Amazon is preparing to release a 9-inch Kindle Fire in 2012. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is testing a smaller screen option for the iPad.
 
File this under Survey Says: In a recent survey of Kindle Fire owners by Changewave, the results were predictable. Fire owners liked the price, the color screen, and the ease of use. The improvements that the Fire owners surveyed want are the same ones you want: volume button, camera, better battery life, and 3G/4G connectivity. Admit it: We want a Fire that is just like our smart phones only with a bigger screen and no contract. And keep the price at $199, too, please.
 
File this under Lights, Camera, Action: GigaOM is reporting that Amazon is preparing to release original video programming. Comedies and children’s programming will be produced first. Original and perhaps exclusive content will add to the appeal of buying an Amazon viewing device.
 
Cheap Reads on DCR Jr. Edition
Alana sent a note about a book she found in the Kindle Store that hadn’t been posted on our site. The young adult fantasy by Sherrilyn Kenyon had been posted on our Jr. Edition. We post great, cheap reads every day for children and teens. If you enjoy young adult fiction, subscribe to the e-mail for a daily list of the postings.
Here are just a few of the great cheap reads we recently featured:
Infinity: Chronicles of Nick ($2.99) by Sherrilyn Kenyon: At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.
 
 
Jane ($2.99) by April Lindner: An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.
Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.
But there’s a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane’s much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past.
 
The Borrowers ($1.59) by Mary Norton: Pod, Homily, and Arrietty Clock’s huge adventures have been thrilling children young and old for fifty years–and their appeal is as strong as ever in these handsome new paperback packages. While the original beloved interior illustrations by Beth and Joe Krush have been retained, Marla Frazee’s striking cover illustrations capture these little people with a larger-than-life appeal.
 
 
Laramie Conquers the Last Frontier (99 cents) by Deborah Dee Harper: The sixth and final installment in the series following Laramie Wyoming and his friends across the United States and Canada was just released. Wholesome, humorous, and action-paced, these books are written for grades 3 – 5 but will appeal to younger children if parents read to them. Adults also enjoy the fun reads. Click here to see the list of all six books in the series, each selling for 99 cents.

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A Valentine’s Day edition of Housekeeping – Romance is in the air 4 comments

Isn’t it romantic?
On this day of all things romantic, we are sharing a few statistics about romance novel readers. In a 2011 survey commissioned by the Romance Writers of America, research found that 9% of all romance books are purchased by men.
Or, stated another way, women buy 91% of the romance books purchased.
The purchaser’s age is most likely between 30 and 54. Unless the women who took this survey fibbed about their age, then add five years to the top age.
Southerners have the most romance novels, buying 38% of all romances. The Midwest buys 26%; the West buys 19%; and the Northeast buys only 17% of all romances. A 2003 survey found the Northeast buying 16% of all romances so they are improving.
A press release from Amazon last week proved that the South is indeed the home of romantics. From sales data of romance novels, relationship books, and other romantic items, the most romantic city in the United States is Knoxville, Tennessee. Three of the top 20 romantic cities were in Tennessee while five cities were in Florida.
Romance book buyers buy often – 50% buy a new romance book at least once of month. E-book romances are popular choices as more romance novels are purchased as e-books than any other genre. Twenty-nine percent of all e-books sold are romances.
In 2003 the hottest sub-genre category of romance was chick lit. In 2011, the hottest sub-genre is romantic suspense, followed by contemporary romance and historical romance. I think the increase in the number of men buying romance novels is fueling the rise in romantic suspense sales.
 
On a somewhat related note, after last Thursday’s Housekeeping post several have asked for the list of romances that I didn’t finish. I’m compiling the list of both the unfinished and finished and hope to publish the list and my reviews within a couple of weeks.
We didn’t do a survey, but we know that the readers who visit DailyCheapReads are the sweetest readers in all the world. We ♥ you! We also appreciate each one of you and hope that you will be with someone you love today.
 
I haven’t read the three romances below, but other readers have given the books high ratings. Each romance is only 99 cents, a sweet price.
 

Truths and Roses (99 cents) First love. Second chances. Secrets with the power to change lives. When Will Kincaid’s professional football career comes to an abrupt end in a single night, he’s left to figure out what he’s going to do with the rest of his life. He heads home to the small Virginia town where he grew up and crosses paths with Hannah Jacobs, the only girl in high school who had ever rejected him.
Much Ado About Marshals (99 cents) Daisy Gardner wants to be a detective just like dime novel heroine Honey Beaulieu. To her delight, her sister shot a bank robber and he got away, so now she even has a crime to solve. But her parents insist she marry a man whose farm is miles from town. She can’t solve crimes stuck out there. What better solution than to marry the new marshal!
A Proper Companion (99 cents) Robert, Lord Bradleigh, is a rakish earl with a recently arranged betrothal to a lovely young girl he barely knows. Emily Townsend is an impoverished spinster employed as a companion to his grandmother, the formidable dowager countess. Robert agrees to help his grandmother find a husband for the beautiful Emily, but how is he to bear the thought of her in another man’s arms?

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Housekeeping – Review of Books I Don’t Finish and Paula’s Top 4 for 2011 22 comments

Should I write reviews on books I do not finish?
I read many books I would not recommend. A more accurate statement would be that I read portions of many books. Time is too valuable to continue reading a book that isn’t well-written, has no plot or point, lacks vibrant characters, has offensive material that wasn’t made known in the description, or is so full of grammatical errors that reading is a struggle.
Should I write a customer review to let others know my opinion? My first thought is that I’ve already wasted enough time trying to read the book, spending time on a review is just more time wasted. That’s not helping the community of readers, though.
I read many customer reviews of books in the Kindle Store. Amazon was groundbreaking in allowing and encouraging customers to post reviews. Eager readers quickly took to the keyboards to give their thoughts and ratings. The community flourished and readers enjoyed opinions from non-professionals who were down-to-earth in their reviews. Would a professional reviewer say, “It was an okay beach read, but I would never pay more than $5 for it.”?
 
For the customer review process to succeed, the participants must remain honest. With the Kindle and the boom of independent publishing authors found that, if they could game the system, they would sell more books. If 20 of their friends posted 5-star reviews, their book would appear popular and well-written. If someone wanted to blackball an author, 20 friends could pan their book. The review community is poorer by both actions.
Some reviewers do not remain on task. Political books are given 1 star reviews by those who have a negative opinion of the subject or person, but provide no evidence of reading the book. One romance reviewer gave a book a 1 star review because the book contained sexual content and he was reading to find books for a Christian audience. The book did not state that it was written for his audience nor did it claim to be free of sexual content. I don’t believe his review was valid.
 
I read many children’s books for our junior site. Grammar and punctuation errors appear in some independently published books. How will our children learn basic language skills if their reading material is riddled with errors?
If I read a book that creates a strong opinion, positive or negative, I believe a review should be written. The review should be factual and tactful, but clear. If a book has formatting, grammatical, and/or plot inconsistencies, I should let others know. If the book has content that is not mentioned in the description, I should be honest about it. Graphic violence, sex, and language can be offensive to readers.
 
I have much more to say on this subject, but I need to go on-line and post reviews for about 20 romance novels I could not read to the end. The reviews will basically be the same:

I did not finish this book because the characters could only think about sex from the moment their eyes first met; they had no meaningful conversation; the plot was thin as it revolved around their constant lust and acting on that lust; and to label this book a romance is a misuse of the word.

 
Perhaps I could say it more tactfully:

I did not finish this book. The story lacked romantic tension between the hero and heroine. If they were a real couple, the relationship would last six months at most because the only thing holding them together is lust.

I’m making a commitment to read non-fiction this year.
What are your thoughts about reviewing books that didn’t meet your expectations?
 
Paula’s Top 4 for 2011
I did read a few books to the last screen. I purchased all of the Georgette Heyer novels when they were offered for $1.99 each last summer and I hope to read more of her gentle writing in 2012. Read my previously posted reviews of The Unfinished Clue and The Convenient Marriage. Unless otherwise stated, books reviewed on this site are purchased.
 
Between The Lines ($4.99) This well-written historical romantic suspense novel is very different from the typical mail-order bride plot. Kathy Otten has written a charming tale of two people brought together under unusual circumstances and how love blossomed between them in spite of family interference. Meg Grayson is a naive young lady and her over-protective brothers have done everything in their power to keep her that way. Brendan Kelly is a man with a checkered past who would never have won the heart of a woman like Meg. She’s stubborn; he’s smitten; and there’s trouble brewing all around them.
 

Deep in the Valley ($3.59) This first book in Robyn Carr’s Grace Valley Trilogy introduces June Hudson, a single physician returned to her home town in rural northern California to practice medicine with her father. This series was written before Ms. Carr’s well-known Virgin River series and is a bit dated with a lack of technology. The novels are more about rural health care and small town life than romance. Dr. Hudson’s love interest is a minor plot. Just Over the Mountain and Down by the River are available for $4.72 each.
 
World’s Shortest Stories of Love and Death ($5.23) Edited by Steve Moss, this book introduces the 55-word story and I fell in love with the novelty of such a compact but complete story. Written by well-known and unknown authors, the book has stories of humor, mystery, romance, horror, suspense, and history – all in one book. By the way, this is a 55-word review.
 
Last Known Position ($3.99) I wrote a review of this book for our Veterans Day post. I consider this book by W. L. Heath one of the best I read in 2011. The intensity of the situation that these men faced daily was vividly written. The book provided a now-favorite expression to describe someone whom you admire and respect: I’d be safer in his socks than mine.

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Housekeeping – MYK Page; Digital Book World Conference; Amazon Publishing; and a Cheap Read 12 comments

Where have all the books gone?
I regularly purchase and download more than 10 books a day to my Kindle account. Because I’m an inventory freak, I maintain a spreadsheet of the books. To update the spreadsheet, I visit the Manage Your Kindle page several times a week to copy the book titles and price. Recently though, my MYK page has not ordered the books by most recently purchased.
The first page of books on my account is from today. The second page has books from January 16. The next few pages are in order backwards until January 7. Then books purchased January 23 – 16 appear until going back to books purchased on January 7. All goes well for many pages showing books purchased January 7 – December 15. Then books from February 1 – January 23 appear before going back to books from December 15.
Is this a unique situation for me because I have so many books? Are your books out of order too? If you have the technical answer, please share with all of us.
 
Digital Book World Conference
The Digital Book World conference was held in New York City the last week in January. We weren’t there to hear any of this firsthand, but the participants at the conference had some interesting items to share:

There were more books published this week than there were in all of 1950. –David Houle, author and futurist

74% of book buyers have never bought an eBook, though 14% of these people own either a tablet or an eReader. –Kelly Gallagher, VP, publishing services at R.R. Bowker

Macmillan was so outraged by [a specific piracy] and other examples of piracy that in the last six months the company has issued 12,000 take down orders on 297 titles and has hired a dedicated anti-piracy staff to monitor the Web. –NYU Pub Posts

….about a third of buyers are driving about two thirds of overall [ebook] purchases. These power readers buy at least 4 books a month. –Kelly Gallagher, VP, publishing services at R.R. Bowker

 
Not Surprising News
Tuesday Barnes & Noble announced that they will not carry books released by Amazon Publishing in its bookstores, including books from the new imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New Harvest, that just signed to publish and distribute books released by Amazon’s publishing company.
Independent bookstore owners are not likely to carry the books, either. Vivien Jennings, owner of Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kan., said “If Amazon wants to publish books, let Amazon sell them.” You can read the complete article here.
 
Cheap Non-Fiction Read
The Power of Your Past: The Art of Recalling, Recasting, and Reclaiming (53 cents) Most of us don’t use our yesterdays very well. With our cultural obsession with living in the moment, we neglect to engage in creative reflection on our personal histories. John Schuster systematically demonstrates that our pasts are the biggest, most accessible, and most under-utilized of resources for anyone wanting to make positive changes. He offers a balanced, practical and accessible approach through an actionable three-phase model: Recalling, Reclaiming, and Recasting. He provides exercises that link past events to achieving sounder interpretations and illustrates the process with inspiring histories of those who have experienced transformative results through embracing their own professional and personal pasts.

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Housekeeping – Personal note; Updates through Manage Your Kindle Page; and Cheap Reads 4 comments

A Personal Note
The last five days, I have suffered from a raging ear infection that put me down for the count. A few errors made it to the site and a few things were put on hold. The Top 4 for 2011 will resume Monday.
Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away and the books of all things romantic are being offered at great prices. You might want to purchase a few extra for the coming blizzard or spring break or summer vacation. After all, everyone loves a romance.
 
Updating a book from Manage Your Kindle Page
I received the following e-mail recently from Amazon:

We are happy to announce that an updated version of your past Kindle purchase of Book Book by Author Author is now available. The version you received had the following issues that have been corrected:

Typos existed throughout the book

Before you update to the new version, check to see that all devices that you have used to read this book are connected to a network and that their Annotations Backup settings are turned on. This will ensure that your notes, highlights, bookmarks and furthest reading location are retained in the new version. For help with modifying settings, please visit http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport.

You can get this new version by going to the Manage Your Kindle page at http://amazon.com/MYKupdate. Find the book in your Kindle Library and click on the “update available” link next to the book’s title. Within 5 minutes, any of your devices that have the eBook currently downloaded and have an active wireless connection will be updated automatically.

Because the book was not active on my Kindle, I downloaded it. Back on the MYK page, when I selected Update this Title, I was given one more opportunity to ensure that I had taken the steps to protect highlights, notes, and furthest page read.

A corrected version of this book is available.

The previous version will be replaced with the corrected version.

Before clicking update, please be sure the wireless and Annotations Backup settings are turned on for each of your devices. Doing so will retain any highlights, notes, and furthest page read. You can check and adjust your Annotations Backup settings by navigating to the settings menu on your device. For further help with modifying settings, go to http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport and check the help pages for the devices or applications you are using.

Once the update option is selected, it is no longer available.
  
Cheap Reads Even Cheaper
A few books previously featured are now at an even cheaper price – only $1.99 each.
 

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Housekeeping: Kindle Touch and the Cover; Pre-Order Posts on January 24 and a Cheap Read 13 comments

I never liked it anyway

A few weeks ago, I started having trouble with my previously awesome Kindle Touch with 3G. The touch screen suddenly became unresponsive. I’d tap a book and it wouldn’t open up, or would take a long time to open. I tried a hard reset, which helped briefly. A few times I tried to turn it on and it reset itself. The battery didn’t hold a charge. I figured it must be a bug in the device and got on the forums at Amazon to see if other users had experienced similar problems.
Several of them had and the suggestion was to take it out of the cover. Seriously?
As mentioned in the review, I purchased the official leather cover. It did the job, but I was disappointed with the color and feel of it. There is an indication the cover somehow interferes with the Kindle’s operation.
I popped the Kindle out and it immediately returned to normal. I didn’t call customer service, but sent the cover back to Amazon and received a full refund. I’d like to use it to buy a new cover, but I’m a little cautious of having problems again.
If you’re having trouble with your Kindle, try taking it out of the cover and see if helps. Also, I’m accepting suggestions for a new cover.
 
Pre-Orders Only on Tuesday, January 24
Publishers are releasing many books the week of January 30 and some of them are at cheap prices. Tuesday, January 24, every regular post will be a pre-order offer with delivery scheduled during the week of January 30.
As an example The Qualities of Wood, contemporary fiction for only $1.99, is releasing Tuesday, January 31:
 
A haunting and beautifully written debut novel by an exciting new talent. When Betty Gardiner dies, leaving behind an unkempt country home, her grandson and his young wife take a break from city life to prepare the house for sale. Nowell Gardiner leaves first to begin work on his second mystery novel. By the time his wife Vivian joins him, a real mystery has begun: a local girl has been found dead in the woods behind the house. Even after the death is ruled an accident, Vivian can’t forget the girl, can’t ignore the strange behaviour of her neighbours, or her husband. As Vivian attempts to put the house in order, all around her things begin to fall apart. The Qualities of Wood is a stunning novel from an exciting new writer. Perfect for readers of Anne Tyler and Anita Shreve.

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Housekeeping – Server changes; Goodreads book tracking; and Cheap Reads 6 comments

Whew! Glad that’s over
This week we transitioned to a new server and cleared a few speed bumps along the way. The site is growing and we’ve updated and expanded to improve your experience. You will be able to buy cheap reads faster than ever before. If you experience any glitches on our site, please let us know. Our IT support will be right on it.
 
Meeting Goals; Keeping Track
At the beginning of 2011, I (Susan) decided I wanted to track how many books I read, instead of just having a vague idea. I asked for suggestions and several of you recommended Goodreads.
It’s like a social network for book lovers, where you can track what books you’re reading, share reviews and interact with other readers. It has been a lot of fun to check in with you and see the books you enjoy. Signing up for the 2011 Reading Challenge, I made a goal to read 55 books (that’s more than one a week!) and by the end of the year, had read 70. A few were children’s books but I discovered I read more than I thought.
One of the things I enjoy most about Goodreads is the virtual book shelf where you can line up the covers of books you’ve read. I scanned through the titles from 2011 and it was like reconnecting with some old friends (and a few distant acquaintances who had sucked up my time.)
One of my favorite books for the year was The Hunger Games.
This series is written for young adults, but many grown ups have enjoyed it as well. I had avoided it because I thought it would be violent but found it a compelling character study, except for the third book, which was a disappointment compared to the first two. The first book of trilogy is selling for $4.69.
 
For the 2012 Reading Challenge, my goal is 62 books. Do you have a reading goal this year? How many books do you hope to get to know in 2012?
 
Cheap Reads
Each short book below is only 89 cents – history, language and contemporary fiction.
 

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Housekeeping: Holiday treats, 100 best-selling books, and cartoon fun 0 comments

Holiday Favorite Treat Poll
We hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and had an opportunity to relax with friends and family and read, too. In our informal poll of your favorite holiday treat, fudge and frosted sugar cookies were popular choices. Favorite write-in responses were gingerbread, divinity and pumpkin pie. If you enjoyed as many treats as we did, you had a wonderful, sugar-filled holiday.
 
100 Best-Selling Books for 2011
Amazon announced the 100 best-selling books for 2011 and several cheap reads were in the top 30. One book, Ascend by Amanda Hocking, is no longer available as a cheap read as Ms. Hocking has re-published the book through a traditional publisher. A Kindle Single that is 40 pages long is one of the top “books.” Is that fair? Should a book have a minimum length to qualify?
Nine cheap reads from the top 30 that are still available for less than $3 each are below. The prices are as low as 79 cents up to $2.99 each. Only two of the books are $2.99 and most are 99 cents.
 

  
Your Top Reads for 2011
Again this year we will feature your top four reads from 2011. The reads don’t have to be cheap reads, just your favorites. Please send your list along with a 1-3 sentence description or reason you liked the books to us via Your Two Cents Worth tab. If you don’t have four reads, send one, two, or three of your favorites.
Next week we will post our top four reads for 2011.
 
From USA Today
Tiger and I vacationed for a few days over the holiday break and enjoyed reading USA Today each morning. This cartoon was featured on Friday, December 30:

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Christmas Eve 2011 5 comments

Today is a special day. It’s Christmas Eve and the air is filled with a magic and excitement that you can practically feel.
 
As Christians, we’re two cheap chicks who will be celebrating this holiday with special meaning. This is Susan and I wanted to share a little something that happened last year on Christmas Eve, when we went to church. The service was simple and moving, two teenagers portraying Joseph and Mary, gifted musicians singing old carols and new worship songs.
 
In the row behind me, young Emily started getting restless. It’s hard to sit through a church service when you’re just 2 years old, especially on Christmas Eve. She wiggled down out of the seat and peered around the chair to watch the stage, intrigued by the scene, especially when a doll was laid in the straw.
 
The pastor read the passage that described Jesus being laid in a manger, the angels who announced his birth and the shepherds who came to worship him. But Emily was not listening. Her dad put her on his lap and shushed her, which only made her squirm and fuss more. Exasperated, she told her dad very plainly about the situation.
 
“There’s a baby up there and I want to see it.”
 
Her innocent voice cut through all the extra layers surrounding Christmas and went straight to the point. Why pay attention to anything else when there is a baby?
 
Emily’s advice has helped me to keep my focus this holiday season. All the presents and cookies and lights are nice, but is my greatest desire to see the Savior and to be near Him? This Christmas, I pray that you can catch a glimpse of the baby and see Jesus for all he is.

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Housekeeping – Catching up and Cheap Reads 0 comments

We are frantically getting ready for the holiday. Housekeeping is going to be quick this week, think of it as a small plate of mini-desserts. Oh, that sounds divine! Let’s take an informal poll of the best holiday treat.
 
Getting around the site
We have added a Users Guide tab to our page to help visitors become familiar with the site. Our goal is to provide the best possible site for our users, while still presenting a wide variety of books for you to peruse.
 
Hold on to your hat, the cheap reads just keep coming
Publishers are cutting prices with a very sharp knife as the Christmas holiday approaches. We will be posting as many as possible and will try to present them in creative ways. You may feel a bit bombarded, but we want to make you aware of every book possible. It’s not too late to drop hints about wanting or needing an Amazon gift card for all the bargains.
 
Midnight posts
This month we have had a midnight post of three books selling for only 99 cents each. These novels are great reads at supercheap prices from nearly every genre. In the last week the subjects have been thrillers, women’s fiction, classic Westerns, contemporary romance, Christian fiction whodunits and dark fantasy. Scroll back through the posts to find them or click on the SuperCheap Free tab.
 
Here are three Christmas reads for only 99 cents each – a story of redemption,  a duet of romance and murder mystery novellas in one book, and a fun read for all ages.

 
 
Jane Austen Fanfiction even cheaper
We featured a post of many Jane Austen fanfiction books last week on her birthday. Many of those books are now priced even cheaper at $1.79 – including the contemporary romance Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy and historical Darcy Christmas.

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