Kindle Tips

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.

New Kindle Oasis

screenshot_50Amazon released a new high end kindle today. It is an oddly shaped kindle, thicker on one side than the other because it is meant to be used with a charging case. So the kindle itself has a battery, which will allow for about 2 weeks of use. But the case has another battery, which will charge the Kindle Oasis while it is in the case, which in total will allow for about 8-9 weeks of battery. A fully charged Kindle Oasis in a case can be on standby for 22 months.

The Kindle Oasis has buttons on one side for turning pages. Depending on if you want to hold the kindle on the right or left side, the screen will flip because there is an accelerometer built in.

This new Kindle Oasis is thinner and lighter than previous kindles. The thicker part of the kindle is about the thickness of an iPhone. And the thin part is less than half of that thickness. Without the case, the Oasis is 133 grams (4.6 oz) compared to the Paperwhite’s 205 grams (7.2 oz). So the Oasis’ weight is about the weight of an iPhone 5. But with the case, the Oasis is over 8 oz, so heavier than the Paperwhite.

The screen is the same screen as the Kindle Voyage and Paperwhite 3, but it has 10 LED lights, which will make the screen both brighter and more even. (The Voyage has 6 LEDs and the Paperwhite had 4 LEDs).

There were several rumors that turned out to be unfounded. The Oasis is not waterproof, the cases does not have solar charger and it does not have a Liquavista (color) screen.

There is little here that makes me want to upgrade. I would like buttons. Slightly smaller and slightly lighter are always nice, but the current kindle options are not large or heavy. A slightly brighter screen is also nice, but the current screens are not dark.

The battery for Kindles are already excellent so a greatly extended battery seems to be a worthless upgrade except for a few people that are not around power for long periods of time.

I keep suggesting that a waterproof kindle is a good new feature. The Paperwhite added a light. The Kindle Touch added touch screen and removed buttons. But fundamentally, the technology has made incremental improvements without adding many new features. In fact, there have been lots of features removed, sound, text to speech, SD cards, physical keyboards, etc.

It is difficult to see who will pay more than twice the price of a Paperwhite to get a slightly smaller, slightly lighter, slightly brighter, with slightly better battery life. My wife still primarily uses the Kindle 2, a seven year old device. I primarily use an after market waterproofed Paperwhite 2 (about a two year old release) and I will have a hard time buying another kindle that is not waterproofed.

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.

Waterfi Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite Review

If you asked me what my favorite thing to do, on the list would be floating in the ocean, reading. Several years ago I found a floating waterproof case for my Kindle 2. And up until recently I had still been using it. It finally broke and on impulse I picked up a refurbished Waterfi Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite two weeks ago right before I went to the beach for a week’s vacation.

The first thing you notice about Waterfi’s waterproofed Paperwhite is that it is basically indistinguishable from a regular Paperwhite. The waterproofing is not visible and doesn’t add any weight (at least not enough to be noticeable).

Waterfi is an aftermarket system. So you purchasing one from Waterfi voids the Amazon warranty. A refurbished Waterfi has a six month warranty. The refurbished Paperwhites are a mix of 1st and 2nd generation Paperwhites, but you can ask them for one or the other.

There are two main negatives about the Waterfi system that was not true of my old floating Kindle case. First, it does not float. So if I dropped it in the ocean, I would have go grab it. I have thought about how to create some type of float for it, but I haven’t worked that out yet. (I think some type of foam case should work.) I was just careful when I was swimming with it.

The second negative is that because the Paperwhite is a touch screen device that moves by electrical conduction, hard spray from salt water can turn the page or turn on the screen commands. It was not a huge problem, but I did need to try to keep it out of the spray to actually pay attention to the book. (And it really makes me wish that either Amazon had real page turn buttons or that Waterfi had waterproofed a Kindle Voyage).

But those two negatives aside I am really happy with the purchase. It is waterproof, the screen was not at all fuzzy as the one waterproof case for the Paperwhite that I have tried was and while I would not normally spend the extra $20 to get rid of ads, it is nice to not have ads.

A New Kindle Paperwhite

Update: Ken Edgerly of Kindle Chronicles has a video, the only one I have seen, comparing the 2nd generation Paperwhite, 3rd Generation Paperwhite and the Kindle Voyager that I think is helpful to seeing what is actually changed.


Amazon quietly announced a new Paperwhite this morning. The new Paperwhite follows up on the original Paperwhite in 2012 and the second generation released in late 2013.

The 2015 Paperwhite keeps the same physical specifications as the first two Kindle Paperwhite generations and the same price.

The main differences are that the new Paperwhite has the same screen as the Kindle Voyager (300 dpi up from 212 dpi) and doubled the ram to 512 MB. The battery and storage space remain the same (and quite adequate).

The other differences are software. The new Bookerly Font that was released on the iOS apps recently will now be native on the Paperwhite. Also there will be a new layout engine that will more closely match the way print books look.

Amazon Fire HD 6 Initial Review

The HD 7 (internally the same machine) is on sale today only for $79 for the 8 GB or $99 for the 16 GB (configure the size in the checkout page). That is a very good price, but it is still a weak machine. If you are considering I would recommend the 16 GB.

Note: after several months, I really cannot recommend this tablet. It crashes almost daily. The storage amount is so small it is almost unusable because I can only keep about 6 to 8 apps loaded at a time. And it is frustrating that Amazon blocks the standard Google App store (I know you can get around it, but I should not need to do that). So good apps like the Kids YouTube app are not accessible. If I had it to do over again, I would buy an iPad mini, even an older refurbished version would be better than this. If I only used it for Scribd or video streaming, which still works fine, I would probably be happy.

However, if I had the option to return for a full refund at this point, I would.


Original Review

Summary: If your expectations are not an iPad, this is an acceptable tablet, especially when you find it on sale.

A couple weeks ago when the Amazon Fire HD 6 (Kids Edition) was on sale for $119 I picked one up.

I had a couple of use cases that I was interested in. Primarily, I wanted to use it for myself with Scribd (review) for audio and ebooks. But I also was interested in the Kids Edition because I have a one year old. (And frequently visiting nieces that are 6 and 7).

After almost 2 week’s use, I am mixed on the Tablet as a whole, but less negative about it than I was initially.


I really like the size. It is roughly the size of my Kindle Paperwhite, and fairly light. My 13 month old daughter has no problem at all carrying it around. The case that comes with the Kids Edition seems like it is a bit cheap but it really is really protective. It is made of foam and stands up to the one year old frequently throwing it on the floor. And because the Kids Edition includes 2 years of accidental damage warranty, I really don’t have to worry about it. The cases only come in Green, Pink or Blue, the Fire HD 6 Kids Edition itself only comes in Black (the standard HD 6 comes in Black, White, Pink, Blue and Green). The one negative of the cover is that it can get a little warm if used for a long time.

9000 New Audiobooks at Scribd

Scribd just added about 30% more to their audiobook library. As I glanced through their library, I think roughly half of the books that has reviewed in the last five years are now available at Scribd in audiobook and/or ebook. (I just added 45 books to my wishlist in a quick browse of the new books.)

Here is a link to all of the books that have been reviewed on that are available through Scribd prior to the new books being added.

I have been a subscriber to Scribd for nearly 5 months now and I have read about 25 books, either audio or ebook with my subscription. I have not used it quite as much the last month, with the birth of my son and because I have been trying to catch up on other books that are not available on Scribd. But I will continue to subscribe to Scribd for the forseeable future.

If you are an audiobook fan and/or if you have a tablet or phone that you use to read ebooks, Scribd is the best of the three big book subscription services. It is $8.99 a month to read or listen to as many books as you can.

My full review of Scribd is here. If you are interested in subscribing, this link will give you a free two month trial.

Scribd Adds 10,000 Comics and Graphic Novels

Today Scribd announced that in addition to their 30,000 Audiobooks and over 900,000 ebooks, they are adding 10,000 comic books and graphic novels to their subscription service. I have a full review of Scribd and another post about areas for improvement, but after almost 3 months, I have been very happy with my subscription.

There is a one month free trial (two months if you click on referral link), then the regular cost is $9.99 a month.

After having tried all three major subscription plans, I think Scribd is the best. The book selection is better than Kindle Unlimited and Oyster does not have audiobook or comic books. Not every book you will want to read is available. Books are mostly backlist (a year old or more) and not every publisher participates. But I have found more than enough to keep me busy reading.

You do need to read enough to justify the $9.99 a month cost because this is a borrowing, not purchase plan (once you stop paying, you no longer have access to the books.)

Areas of Improvement for Scribd

Scribd.comI have been using Scribd for about 8 weeks now. I am very happy with the service as a whole and really do think it is something worth exploring for ebooks and audiobook readers. But there are definitely areas that have room for improvement. Below are 5 areas that I think really need to be fixed (or the process improved) to make Scribd an excellent service. This is not my main review (I really do like Scribd—this is my main review), but Scribd for all of its strengths has a lot of room to grow.

Audiobook playback

Audiobooks are the main reason I am subscribing to Scribd. I enjoy the access to the ebooks as well, but I have a huge library of unread ebooks, so that is less of a need. Over the past seven weeks I have listened to all or part of 20 audiobooks. And every single one of the audiobooks had some problem with the audiobook hanging between chapters, skipping to the end of a chapter, bad cuts between chapters or syncing between devices. One book had so many problems I have given up trying to listen to it because I just can’t get it to play, no matter how many times I delete and reload it or what device I listen to it on.