Kindle Tips

Kindle Now Does Audiobooks (again)

I started the blog that became in 2009. The first kindle came out in 2007. I bought the original kindle about 6 months after it initially came out. And then sold my original kindle and bought the second kindle. And then the third (Kindle Keyboard). And then the Paperwhite (but I used the Kindle Touch enough to know I didn’t like it and intentionally skipped that one.)

The initial kindle did not have speakers. Those came with the second generation. That second generation kindle had a digital voice that would read to you. The third generation had audible integration and you could have narrated books read to you. Then the Paperwhite removed the speakers and anyone that was listening to audiobooks was probably doing it on your smart phone.

Since 2012, no new Kindle has had speakers or capacity to listen to audiobooks (except the Fire Tablets, which are not dedicated ebook readers.) In 2016 an audio adapter was introduced which via dongle you could have Text to Speech. But with the most recent Kindle Oasis release Amazon has unlocked the bluetooth that has been in the original Kindle Oasis and the Kindle Basic which allow you to connect a bluetooth speaker or headphones to your kindle and listen to audiobooks again.

The basic function on my updated Kindle Oasis (1st generation) is similar to the function five years ago on the Kindle Keyboard (3rd generation Kindle.) It does not read along, but just has play, stop, forward or back and basic chapter navigation. I can alternate between reading the print and listening to the audiobook, but I cannot read along as you can on the iPhone or a tablet.

New Kindle Oasis Announced

Amazon has announced the 2nd Generation Kindle Oasis. There has a couple of very nice new features.

Larger Screen: Since the original Kindle in 2007, Kindle screens have been six inches (except for one large format device). The new Kindle Oasis has a 7 inch screen, which is supposed to have 30% more text than a 6 inch screen.

Waterproof: I have been waiting for a waterproof kindle for a while. In 2009 I picked up a waterproof case and loved it. It was floating and I took my kindle in the ocean to read. It was my dream vacation activity. Eventually the case broke and I upgraded to a new kindle. In 2015, I picked up a WaterFi Kindle, which was an after market Paperwhite that added $100 to the price of the Paperwhite and nearly 50% additional weight. This Oasis is now waterproof, a boon to bathtub and beach readers everywhere. (IPX2, which is 2 meters of water for 60 minutes.)

More Storage for Audiobooks: The Oasis has either 8GB or 32GB of storage for books. A 32GB Paperwhite has been available in Japan for a while because of their focus on Magna comics. So this isn’t a surprise. What I was surprised about was that the storage is also for Audiobooks from Audible. There is not a speaker on the Oasis, but there is a bluetooth connection for either a Bluetooth speaker or headphones. This I would use.

Kindle Oasis Review

In January I make the classic, and dumb, mistake of leaving my Kindle Paperwhite in an airline seatback pocket. And that was the last time I saw my Paperwhite. For a couple months I used an old Kindle 2 or my iPhone. But as my birthday was coming up I decided to get a used Kindle Oasis. It is the most expensive Kindle and my thoughts on its release (one year ago yesterday), was that “smaller and lighter is good, but the Paperwhite was not heavy or large. Brighter screens are good, but the Paperwhite is not dark.”

After using the Kindle Oasis for a few weeks, I really like it. And I still am not sure that I can fully justify the extra cost.

Kindle Oasis Amazon Stock photo

I really like having real buttons to change a page. You can actually use it one handed without having to use the second hand to change pages or stretching your fingers across the screen. Buttons are probably the thing I like most about the Kindle Oasis. But there is no way to disable page turns on the screen. I understand why you can’t disable the touch screen because it is essential for highlighting, looking up words, changing settings, etc. But there is no reason why Amazon should not have an option to turn off the page turning by screen.

The Kindle Oasis, without the cover really is light. By my scale it is 140 grams, compared to my iPhone 6S (with thin case) at 191 grams or my Kindle 2 which was 300 grams. With the battery case the Kindle Oasis is 249 grams. But by itself, it really feels almost weightless. I really do think that any lighter would be too light.

New Prime Benefit – Prime Reading


Amazon has added a new benefit for Amazon Prime members. Prime Reading is a light version of Kindle Unlimited. Prime members can now read up to 10 books, magazines, short stories or children’s books at once. Prime Reading only has just over 1000 book too choose from (compared to 1.4 million books in Kindle Unlimited).

Despite the small number of books, there are a number of books that are worth reading: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick, 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, and a number of Lonely Planet travel guides.

Prime Reading isn’t a reason to get Amazon Prime, but it is a nice addition to the list of benefits.

I assume it is to promote Prime Reading. But Amazon Prime members can get $30 off a basic touch kindle ($49), Paperwhite ($99) or $50 off a Kindle Voyage ($149).

You can also get the kid’s kindle bundle for $70 (A basic touch kindle, a case and a 2 year warranty)

Kindle Unlimited Take Two

screenshot_71During the Amazon Prime Day sale last week I decided to take another run at Kindle Unlimited. There was a six month subscription to Kindle Unlimited for $45, which seemed like a fairly good deal.

In the week that I have used it again, I have decided that there are two related main problems with Kindle Unlimited and one good point. (My previous thoughts on Kindle Unlimited)

The Bad

Amazon is lousy at usability. Whether it is the Kindle Fire, their website or their apps, Amazon really needs to invest in designers. Amazon is successful because of low prices, free shipping and the ability to get pretty much anything. But for things like Kindle Unlimited, where the usage is really based on the ability to find the material you want to consume, Amazon’s lack of focus on usability is a serious issue. The biggest problem with the usability is actually finding the books you want to read. Kindle Unlimited is mostly self published books. There is plenty of content that is worth reading if you can find it. But there is a lot of work required to find good books. (Same problem with Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Music)

New Kindle Available for Pre-Order

screenshot_68Amazon released information about new kindle this morning (available for pre-order with delivery in early July). The new kindle replaces the Kindle Basic Touch (lowest end) Kindle. It keeps the same $80 price, but adds several good features and upgrades.

The best new feature is Bluetooth audio. Amazon removed text to speech nearly 5 years ago when it removed the speaker to make the Kindle a smaller device. With Bluetooth Audio, the kindle will connect to a Bluetooth speaker (widely available starting at about $10) and will read the book in a kindle voice. It is not clear from the description and other news reports if it will support immersive reading (audiobook narration synced to the kindle book).

Other features are more mundane. For the first time in five years, Amazon has the option of a white kindle. The new Kindle will also be 16% lighter (5.7 oz) to be the second lightest kindle after the $300 Oasis. The kindle will also be slightly smaller (9 mm shorter and 4 mm narrower). Also the storage increases from 2GB on the old Kindle basic to 4 GB on the new Kindle.

There are some new software updates as well (according to other news reports) that will also be rolled out to other kindles. One of these is making your notes and highlights easier to access through a direct email and export feature directly from the kindle.

Overall this is a solid update and a still very reasonable price for the low end Kindle.

Preorder here

Audible Now Has Book Sharing

ONEBOOK_DESKTOP_LP_4_28_WHITE_LEARNMOREOne of the best parts of physical books is the ability to share that book with friends. Digital books publishers have attempted to both encourage and limit digital sharing. Amazon allows publishers to choose whether to participate in sharing or not, about 1/3 of Amazon books are ‘lendable’.

Now Audible has started allowing their audiobooks to be shared. The method is more about trying to get new Audible listeners than really facilitating sharing, but the program is worth paying attention to.  The program was in beta as Audible OneBook, but is now simply Send your Book. Either in the Audible App or through the browser, you can share one book with any person. Each person must register with Audible to receive a free book. And each person can only receive one free book. But the giver may share their books with as many different people as they want.

Note: Receiving a Send This Book audiobook and registering with Audible is basically the same as a free trial book. If you look around, you can usually find two free book trial. So this is not necessarily a great deal. (Terms and Conditions

If you are actually interested in becoming an Audible Member, these are better deals. If you just want to get a free audiobook, use a throw away email address, not your main one.

Three month (three book) free trial is you are an Amazon Prime Member

Two free audiobook trial (if you are not an Amazon Prime Member)


Amazon Kindle Oasis Reviews are Out

screenshot_54The Amazon Kindle Oasis officially was released today. However, if you did not pre-order it, you will have to wait until June because they are back ordered.

Virtually every review (and I read seven of them today) is the same. This is the best Kindle, and probably the best e-reader available. It is lighter and thinner than the last kindle. But that is true of all new kindle releases.

All reviews also say this is very hard to justify given the fact that you can buy a brand new Paperwhite  Kindle for just over 1/3 of the price, or a refurbished Paperwhite for less than 1/3 of the price.

The best line I read was from a review on The Verge, “This is the kindle you will want, even if it is not the kindle you should buy.”  Pretty much everyone agrees that the odd design feels good to read on. And most comment about how it is nice to have actual page turn buttons back. Most have not tested the full range of the battery yet because it is brand new. And almost all of them suggested that it should have been waterproof (which is my main complaint.)
Reviews: Wired Review, CNET Review, The Verge, Engadget, TechRadar, ArsTecnica, PC Mag, DigitalTrends

Why I Canceled Scribd

Scribd-200When the idea of subscription book programs first started, a number of people asked me about them. It seemed like a natural fit for me. I read a lot of books, these are subscriptions for unlimited book reading, what is not to like?

I tried Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, Oyster’s (out of business), Scribd‘s and a couple other plans. The problems are usually similar. They often have books you want to read, but not all of them. All of them are rental plans, so you do not keep the books, just borrow them, similar to a library.

In order to make sense of a rental style subscription plan, you need to read a lot of books each month for it to makes sense, at least three but probably five.

What made Scribd different initially was a large selection of audiobooks. The audiobooks for a while kept me subscribed. But then Scribd had to restrict the books until now you can only listen to one a month. (Because they were losing money.) With a price of $8.99 to borrow one audiobook (there are still ebooks you can borrow) the price no longer makes sense. I pay just pennies more than that per book from Audible and that is a purchase program. And Audible has a much better selection of books.

I think subscription plans still make sense for some people. But it is unlikely to be a very large group of people. And at this point, the only real option is Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited subscription plan. Amazon still does not have a large audiobook selection (not quite 3000). But it has a pretty good ebook selection.

Subscription plans need to be thought of as a month by month option. Get it one month, put it on hold for a month or two and then come back to it.  Scribd did have a good vacation hold option. I have been putting my account on hold so extended it for a lot longer than I probably should have.

But in the end, I am back to purchasing books through Amazon and Audible.

Where to Find Free Kindle Books

When I deleted a lot of old Free and Sale Kindle Book posts, I accidentally deleted this one as well. I am reposting it because I think it is still helpful.  If you have any suggestions to add, let me know.

Since I am going to cut way back on my blogging for the short term, I thought I would post about where I find free kindle books.

downloadBecause Amazon made some changes to their affiliate programs a many websites or bloggers have cut back on their free books. But I also think free books have declined in popularity. Last year I averaged about 4000 free book ‘purchases’ a month. This year I am averaging about 2000.

There are three main types of sites. The first is the Christian focused Kindle blog sites. The three best of those are GospelEbooks, which posts daily in the morning. Usually not more than one or two free books a day. Vessel Project is similar but often posts once in the morning and once at night. The third is Thrifty Christian Reader, which is run by Chris Smith of the Englewood Review of Books. These posts are more occasional and run a bit more literary. (Update: Chris Smith has really started increasing his posts and even includes sale print books occasionally.)

Kindle PaperwhiteThe second type is the general free kindle book blogs. A lot of them have shut down and the only reliable one I know of is ereaderiq. You can have it send a daily email (the others above do this as well) focused just on your interest. But this requires that the books are properly categorized by the author or publisher. Ereaderiq is also the best place to track prices of books.  This is the link for religious books (not all Christian). Ereaderiq is also the best place to track the price of non-free books.

The third type is the publisher free book links, social media accounts or emails. Usually these are a mix of free and sale ebooks because publishers need to make money. David C Cook has 4 or 5 free books a week, usually for only one to two days. Baker Publishing usually has 10 to 20 for a month at a time (this includes Baker, Baker Academic, Bethany House and Revell.) Destiny Image has an email. Others may have occasional sales which you might be able to find via official publisher social media sites.