Kindle Tips

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.

So Now I Have a Kindle, What Do I Do With It? How to Get Started

So you received a new Kindle for Christmas. Now what do you do.  Below the jump you can find out about borrowing books, importing books, audiobooks, tracking the prices of kindle books, finding new books, getting your questions answered and more. This post focuses on Amazon Kindles, but some of the content is also true for Amazon Fire Tablets or other eink readers as well.

Free or Sale Kindle Books

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

One of the first things you want to do is check out free books.  There are a lot of free books, usually 500-600 free books a day (although many repeat at least quarterly).  You have a couple of options to find free ebooks. The ones I most I recommend are ereaderiq or ereaderperks. Both will send you a daily email of 30 to 40 recommend kindle books divided into genre, with a short summary and a book cover.  You can customize the email to the genres that you are most interested in.

There are also blogs that focus on sale books. Gospelebooks and VesselProject focus on Christian books but there are a variety of others including ereaderiq that post about kindle book sales.

You can also follow posts a free Christian Kindle books nearly every day and several days a week I post about sales. Project Gutenberg and Christian Classic Ethereal Library are excellent for finding public domain books.  Baen Publishers maintains a free library of ebooks if you enjoy science fiction or fantasy.

Amazon’s message board system also is a good place to find free or sale books.

Borrow from Your Library has a post about how to borrow books from the library.  It is fairly easy, free, and most public libraries are now participating.  If you like audiobooks, borrowing from the library can help you get discounts on audiobooks from

Borrow from other Kindle Users

Amazon got into the borrowing and lending of kindle books fairly late in the game. But they learned from others and made the process very easy. Here is a post about how to Borrow or Lend a book. Many people do not know a lot of other kindle owners, so Kindle book sharing sites popped up. has reviewed two.  Lendle and Booklending. I prefer Lendle, but it requires you to earn credits by offering up books to be loaned (most free books are lendable, so you can get some free books to build up some credits). Booklending allows you to borrow without lending, but does not have as many books. However, there is not a good reason to not check both sites if one site does not have a book you want to borrow.

How to Gift Kindle Ebooks

Because of all the sales, I wanted to repost about how to give a kindle book as a gift.

First you go to the kindle edition of the book. Then look below the regular Buy Now button and click ‘Give as a Gift’.

That brings up another screen that allows you to do one of two things.

1) You can designate a person to give the gift to by putting in an email address and a date to deliver the book. The email can be any email address, not just the person’s regular Amazon email address, but the date is only day specific, not time specific. Usually they are delivered at or after 12 AM Pacific, which is not always the best time for it to be delivered.

2) The other option is to email the gift to yourself and then you can forward the email or print out the redeem code and give the person a gift in person.

The advantage of sending the code to yourself, is that you can buy the book when it is on sale, but not have a person that you know you want to give it to yet.  I know I have wanted to buy books that I thought were great, but didn’t have anyone in particular to give it to. But I knew someday I would want to give that book away.

Scribd: A Review

Over the past three weeks I have been using Scribd, a subscription ebook service, similar to Kindle Unlimited and Oyster. While not perfect, this is the first of the subscription services that I have seriously considering keeping the subscription after the trial.

All of the subscription ebook services have similar prices $8.99 or $9.99, all have a few hundred thousand books and a good bit of overlapping content. But there are differences.

First, Scribd and Oyster have some major publishers. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited is primarily self published books and smaller publishers, but both Oyster and Scribd have books from 3 of the 5 major publishing houses. Much of the newest content is not there, but the back list (about a year or so old) is here and has much worth reading.

Scribd Adds 30,000 Audiobooks

Note now has a full review of Scribd

Scribd is a document sharing and ebook subscription service. Originally it was mostly to share unpublished papers or articles, Scribd started its ebook subscription service about the same time as the better known Oyster, last year.  At the time I tried and reviewed Oyster, but didn’t bother reviewing Scribd because the services were so similar.

After spending 3 months with Kindle Unlimited, I was interested to hear Scribd announce yesterday that the $8.99 a month service will now include 30,000 audiobooks. This morning I signed up for the free one month trial and have some initial thoughts.

First, this is a much better website than it was last I looked at it, and the selection is much better than Kindle Unlimited. Yes Kindle Unlimited has more books, but Scribd has more of the books you want to read.

For instance, while Kindle Unlimited had a handful of CS Lewis books in ebook (none with free audiobooks), Scribd has most of his books, both in ebook and audiobook formats, in addition to the recent biographies from Alister McGrath and Devin Brown, and a number of Lewis’ books also have Spanish editions.

There are audiobooks from Blackstone, HarperCollins (which owns Zondervan, Thomas Nelson and HarperOne) and Scholastic included in the 30,000 audiobooks.

New Kindle Reviews (Kindle Voyager and Kindle Basic 2014)

This morning reviews for the new Kindle Voyager has starting popping up in the press. The Kindle Voyager is a new high end eink Kindle.*

The summary of the reviews that I have read so far, is that the Kindle Voyager is the best eink ereader available. It has a beautiful screen, with much higher resolution than anything else on the market. It is the only ereader with a light sensor so it automatically adjusts the frontlight based on the amount of light wherever you are reading. It has a new type of button that does not physically click (no more bothering your spouse when you are reading in bed) but senses the pressure when you push the bezel. And it has a new much higher price. It starts at $199 for the wifi only version with Ads. It is $20 extra to removed the Ads and $70 extra to get the version with free 3G.

I think Amazon and Apple are both having the same problem. People that want an ereader (or tablet) mostly have them. And both ereaders and tablets last a fairly long time. There is not a good reason for anyone to upgrade every year, or even every two years.

And for the most part the upgrades are incremental. A slightly better screen, even if it is the best screen, is only slightly better. Better buttons, even if more convenient are still only slightly better than a touch screen. A light sensor, even though useful, is hardly reason to spend $200. A flat screen (instead of a recessed one) is nice, as is a micro etched screen to make it even less reflective, but again, not a reason to upgrade.

Last week, I saw several reviews of the new Kindle Basic. The new Kindle Basic now has a touch screen and the exact same software as the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Voyager. The only real difference between the Kindle Basic and the and the more expensive Paperwhite is the lighted screen. In fact many of the reviews noted that the new Kindle Basic ($79) screen is actually clearer than the Kindle Paperwhite 2 ($119) that was released last year.

So at this point there are only three Kindles to choose from:

  • Kindle Basic – $79, touch screen, but no light (6.7 oz)
  • Kindle Paperwhite – $119, touch screen, lighted screen, no buttons (7.3 oz)
  • Kindle Voyager – $199, lighted touch screen, light sensor, sensor touch buttons on the bezel, flush screen to the bezel with micro etching to make it the most anti-reflective screen that Amazon makes. (6.3 oz)

My 3 Month Review of Kindle Unlimited

If you signed up for Kindle Unlimited when it first was announced your first three months is just about to end. I have been using Kindle Unlimited actively during that time and wanted to update my initial thoughts about the value of the service and who should think about using it. I am not going to pretend that I am an average reader, I read more than at least 95% of the public. But I do think that for at least some, Kindle Unlimited is valuable.

Kindle Unlimited allows the subscriber to borrow up to 10 books at a time from a library of more than 600,000 books (roughly 30% of the total Kindle books available.) None of the major 5 publishers participate, but several of the still good-sized smaller publishers do.

The first month of the trial is free, and each of the following months is $9.99. The first three months the subscriber also gets 1 Audiobook credit a month that can be used on any Audible book, not just those in the Kindle Unlimited library.

So how much did I use Kindle Unlimited? Quite a bit. During the last three months I read (including books that I did not complete):