Tag Archives: Kindle Fire

How Do I Fit In?

 

Henrietta Hexagon and the Triangles (Children's Picture Book, A story for kids about adoption, family, and shapes)

Review of Henrietta Hexagon and the Triangles by Mandi Tillotson Williams (link to her facebook page)

My kids are all in their twenties, but I have been a teacher, homeschooler and mom so I feel qualified to comment on this clever and fun children’s book. It deals with adoption and “fitting in,” and when you are a shape, that’s more than just an adorable pun.

Henrietta is adopted by a big family of triangles. Mom, dad and four kids. That’s important, but why is a secret you’ll have to learn by reading the book. The illustrations are sweet and bright. Henrietta’s search for “hexagons like her” is a little sad and just a tiny bit scary but still amusing and entertaining. She thinks she has failed by the time she drags herself home. Little does she know …

My husband and I were stuck at a Verizon store for quite awhile trying to get our aircard fixed. A man was there trying to get his account straightened out and also manage his two small girls. I was so glad I had this book on my Kindle Fire to show them. They enjoyed it (at least the one who could talk did) and I know other children, parents and teachers will as well. It’s a wonderful storybook cleverly written and illustrated.

http://www.amazon.com/Henrietta-Triangles-Childrens-adoption-ebook/dp/B0079OK3T8

 

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Kindle Keyboard Compared to Kindle Fire

Michael’s further observations on the two devices:

In May 2011 our son bought me a Kindle. Though we own hundreds of paperbound print books, this one device has almost completely replaced our entire library. Print books are just too large and bulky. All but a handful are now in storage. We use our laptops for study because we can multitask, use a full size keyboard with keyboard commands to quickly look at multiple open books, surf the web and use the larger color screen.

But for simply reading a book, a laptop is too large and bulky. The Kindle is the size of a small print book and just as easy to read. As with any new device, the navigation menu and buttons take some getting used to. We have taken our Keyboard Kindle with us into restaurants, on walks, to read in bed, and just about anywhere else you can think of.

We bought our Kindle Fire about three weeks ago. The Fire is Mary’s Christmas present. The first problem we had with the Fire was finding a WiFi to which we could connect so that we could register it. We bought the Fire just South of Madison, Wisconsin, and were unable to find a WiFi until a McDonalds in Fargo, ND. We have rarely even tried to use the Fire for apps, video, surfing the web or music. All we use the Fire for is reading books. The touch keypad is slow and awkward, but unimportant. If you want a Galaxy or iPad, then spend three times as much money for a Galaxy or iPad.

Compared to an iPad, the touch features are awkward and slow. Compared to the keys on a keyboard Kindle, the touch features are a wonderful blessing. The size of the screen is almost perfect. The larger reading area compared to the keyboard Kindle is an improvement and the lighted screen is great. It makes reading in the dark easy. The reduced battery life is not so great. Once we had the registration issues straightened out, which took weeks, ordering books off the laptop’s aircard and transferring them to the Kindle is easy.

What I like most about the Kindle Fire is the lighted color screen, the cost, the ease of use and the number of books it stores. What I dislike is the “fat finger” problem, the working icons that are too small; the short battery life and difficulty finding a WiFi connection.

In addition:

We have actually learned more about how the Kindles work since getting the Fire, since the controls are easier to use in touch-mode. Our disappointingly small illustrations in or books jump to full-screen with a couple of touches on the Fire, and this feature is also available with buttons on the keyboard model.  The dictionary function we knew about, but there is actually a dictionary for Greek words in Michael’s Interlinear Septuagint and Koine Greek New Testament books.

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Part Three: Your Book, Where It Should Go, How It Will Look

Our e-publishing journey now comes to the formats and how your book will look in each one. Smashwords has great information on this topic from a mechanics standpoint. As a previous post we made on the subject said, https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/the-hows-and-whys-of-e-books/ , although almost all devices can read the pdf format, consider that people might get your books on anything from a full-screen laptop to a pretty small smart phone. A pdf will look wonderful on that laptop screen. It’ll seem a lot like a real book, except for not being able to turn the pages. But if you try to cram that pdf image into your iPhone, the latest model brags about having a 3.5″ diagonal display, and it seems unlikely that it will look just right. Even in a traditional Kindle, pdfs do not really work all that well.

It is possible to convert a pdf into a format that the smaller machines can display. Calibre is one progam that makes file conversions. It is even free. If you have an HTML version of your document, the conversion is even easier. The question is, will a reader go to the trouble of doing that? Some will, but most will want a document that they can just open up and begin reading. So it is a good idea to make your document available in multiple formats, so that all the trouble your prospective customer has to go to is to get the right one off the internet and into his device.

This is what makes Smashwords such a great e-book creation site. You upload a simple Microsoft Word document. Smashwords runs it through the Meatgrinder and produces HTML (good for computer reading), JavaScript, mobi (Kindle format) EPub, which as Smashwords says on its site, works on “Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others.” The Meatgrinder also churns out RTF, PDF, LRF for older Sony readers, PDB (Palm Document files), and two versions of plain text.

Please bear in mind that although you as the author can download any format of your book for free, you cannot redistribute these files on other sites where you can upload and sell your works. Smashwords creates them, doesn’t charge you anything, puts you into premium distribution, and asks in return only that you don’t re-use the files the Meatgrinder creates. You might say, “But it’s my book.” That’s kind of like an architect making plans to build one house and someone stealing and using those plans to build a bunch more houses. And you didn’t even pay Smashwords like you paid the architect. Nope. Can’t do it. Sorry.

Smashwords also gives you coupon codes so you can give copies away for free. This is useful for reviewers and for contests or promotionals. Instead of just pricing your book at free, which you can do on Smashwords, just offer a coupon, so that you know who’s getting your book. Amazon makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to get your book priced “free,” and they don’t give any copies away otherwise. You have to buy your own book yourself if you want to be sure it was formatted correctly.

Smashwords premium distribution gets you into Barnes and Noble and the iBookstore, among others. Customers can buy the mobi format from them to read on a Kindle. Even so, Amazon clearly has the largest and most successful marketing apparatus, and your best chance to be noticed and purchased is on Amazon. Many authors have chosen to pull their books from general distribution and make them exclusive under Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select plan. Indie authors in all the forums and discussion sites I belong to are extremely polarized about this. It is a personal decision, but the author must be sure to read and understand the agreement thoroughly. It’s not a boilerplate terms of use like we all unthinkingly agree to get on many sites to promote our books.

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?ie=UTF8&topicId=APILE934L348N#Select

Please read the entire agreement carefully, and especially pay attention to these two points.

1 Exclusivity. When you include a Digital Book in KDP Select, you give us the exclusive right to sell and distribute your Digital Book in digital format while your book is in KDP Select. During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it), in digital format in any territory where you have rights.

 

5 Your Commitment. Your commitment to these terms and conditions is important, and the benefits we provide to you as part of this option are conditioned on your following through on your commitments. If you un-publish your Digital Book, we will remove it from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, but you must continue to comply with these commitments, including exclusivity, through the remainder of the Digital Book’s then-current 90-day period of participation in KDP Select. If you don’t comply with these KDP Select terms and conditions, we will not owe you Royalties for that Digital Book earned through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program, and we may offset any of those Royalties that were previously paid against future Royalties, or require you to remit them to us. We may also withhold your Royalty payments on all your Digital Books for a period of up to 90 days while we investigate. This doesn’t limit other remedies we have, such as prohibiting your future participation in KDP Select or KDP generally.

Remember, all you’re getting is inclusion in the lending program for Amazon Prime Members. In return, it seems to me that you’re giving up a lot, and taking a big risk that Amazon can deny you royalties and revenue if you don’t do exactly what they say.

But there’s nothing wrong with having your books in the KDP program generally. In fact, the Kindle is a great reader, and your books will look fantastic on it. We have both the Kindle Keyboard model and the Kindle Fire. Both are great readers and both are easy to use and look wonderful. I prefer the Kindle Fire display because it allows the full screen illustrations we have created for our two illustrated books to show in full color and full size. And the ease of buying (or getting free) the bunches and bunches of books Amazon has for Kindle is hard to beat.

http://reviews.cnet.com/2300-3126_7-10010211.html

Here is a link to CNET’s Kindle Fire review and the screenshots they show. It really does look that good. Fun to read in bed, and, though the battery only lasts about 4 hours, compared to the keyboard model’s lifespan of a month or more, it’s the perfect in-bed reader.

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Review of the Huguenot Sword by Shawn Lamb

I am interested in church history, especially regarding Protestants, and as soon as I saw this book I wanted to read it. I got the Amazon Kindle version on a 99 cent Cyber Monday sale after a heads-up from the author on Goodreads. It deals mostly with young adult characters and includes a number of well-known historical figures. For those who don’t know, Huguenots were Protestants who tried to obtain the right to live as citizens and practice their faith in Catholic France but were severely persecuted, especially under Cardinal Richelieu.

Shawn Lamb has created a great study of how ordinary people look at and practice their beliefs, and how those beliefs affect their own lives and conduct, and their interactions with others. If you like the Three Musketeers, the Scarlet Pimpernell, and Zorro, you will like this story. Adventure, disguises, intrigues, court life, expectations of family, arranged marriage, and elements of romance and temptation all enter into the plot and storyline.

Three young men try to live by their motto, “For Friendship, for Faith, and for Freedom,” while aiding the Huguenot Resistance in France. Shawn Lamb provides plenty of swordfighting, pursuits and escapes, and, most importantly, insight into how young people view faith as they mature and make decisions about what they really believe and how it will shape their conduct.

Though I enjoyed the story and characters very much, I found the book contained some technical imperfections. The author was kind enough to share her process of writing and “vetting” a book and her many years of experience with different ways of bringing a book to print. She graciously promised to take my comments about the book into consideration in her future writing.

So, take it all together, the Huguenot Sword was an exciting, satisfying read, a tribute to faith and its struggles to grow, and an opportunity for me to learn firsthand something about how an author gets a book out of her head and into print, or into my Kindle, in this case.  I gave it four out of five stars on Goodreads and Amazon.

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