All posts by Steve Windwalker

Are you getting the most out of your ebook recommendation service?

Different people want different things when it comes to ebooks….

Comparison 3-18-2015 PicMonkey CollageSo different readers may come to different conclusions after checking out this side-by-side comparison of the day’s Top Book Recommendations for Wednesday, March 18, 2015 from BookBub and BookGorilla.

Depending on what you’re looking for, we hope you’ll sign up for a FREE subscription to your choice today, if you haven’t done so already:

And while a picture can be worth a thousand words, it’s rarely as simple as a picture might suggest … so we’ll be back later this week to take a closer look at what’s really going on here.

Happy Reading!

-Steve Windwalker


Best Tablet Ever Under $100?
What’s Not to Love About the Brand New 2014 Fire HD 6″?

(This post by April Hamilton first appeared on the Kindle Fire on KND website, where April is editor-in-chief.)

It’s your friendly Editor April here. I’ve got one of the new, 2014 Fire HD6 tablets and have had the opportunity to test and compare it to my second-generation Kindle Fire HDX, so now I’m ready to share.

This will be a long and picture-filled post, but don’t be intimidated: the new Fire line has some improvements and changes, but it’s not a drastic departure from the previous generation. A lot of things look a little different and work a little different, and there are some new and improved features, that’s all.

Note that you can click or tap on images in this post to view an enlarged version in a new tab or window.


Device Management Options

Let’s begin here. When you go to Your Account > Manage Your Content and Devices, the available options are different for different Fire models. Here they are, in order from first-generation to my 2014 HD6, which is one of the brand new models.


First-Generation Kindle Fire Device Options Menu:


Second-Generation Kindle Fire Device Options Menu (note the addition of “Remote Alarm”, “Find My Device” and “Remote Factory Reset”:

“Remote Alarm” sounds a loud chime on your Fire to help you find it when you know it’s nearby, but can’t spot it.

“Find My Device” only works if you have Location Based Services enabled on the Settings menu of the Fire. Many people turn this option off due to privacy concerns or to save battery life. If you want to be able to use “Find My Device” on a second-gen Fire, you must turn Location Based Services on under Settings on the tablet.


2014 Kindle Fire Device Options Menu (note the addition of “Remote Lock”):

The “Find Your Tablet” option is the same as the “Find My Device” option on second-gen Fires. To enable this on a 2014 Fire, on the device, under Settings > Device Options, turn on the “Find Your Tablet” option. It’s set to “off” by default. It’s not clear to me if doing this also enables ALL Location Based Services, but since I’m not finding a separate menu item for that option it’s probably safest to assume the answer is “yes”.

The new Fire line adds one more item: “Remote Lock”. This is used to lock your Fire remotely, in the event it’s lost or stolen, or you know you’ve left it in a non-secure location and have privacy concerns.

Here’s the detail screen for the Remote Factory Reset option, which is available on both second-generation Fires and the 2014 models:


Below, you can see the new on-screen keyboard. Everything’s bigger and easier to read and use, but it works pretty much the same as in previous generation Fires. Note that little microphone icon to the right of the ?123 button at the lower left: yes, you can dictate your search terms (and emails, and text entries in online forms, etc. etc.) on the entry-level 2014 Fire. In the second generation, this was only available in the higher-end models. Just tap the microphone icon and start talking to enter your search term(s); the voice recognition software is surprisingly good.


Here, I’ve closed the keyboard to display my search results. The results screen has been redesigned to make it easier to distinguish between search results that indicate matching content you already own (My Stuff), matching content that’s available through Amazon Prime (if you’re a Prime subscriber), and matching content available for purchase.


Select Options

The pictures tell the story for the most part, but I’ve added some comments to point out specific differences or improvements.

On the various main menu screens (e.g., Home/Carousel, Books, Videos, etc.), you still long-tap to select items but you no longer get the same pop-up menu right on top of the selected item. Instead, there’s a “Selected” ribbon that appears at the top of the screen and from there you can select Home (with a + sign) to add the selected item to the Home/Carousel screen, Home (with a – sign) to remove the selected item from the current screen, or access the Add to Collections / Create a Collection menu items by tapping More. To cancel, use the ‘back’ icon (at the far left of the ribbon, indicated by a red arrow in the next screenshot, below this one).

Note that there is no longer an option to “Remove From Device” or “Remove From Cloud” here. To delete content from the tablet but keep it in your Cloud library, you will have to access the content on the main [content type] > Device screen (e.g., Books > Device, Apps > Device, Videos > Device, etc.), then long-tap as usual to bring up the “Remove from Device” menu option. It also appears that under the new 2014 Fires’ operating system, the only way to permanently delete content from your Cloud library is to access Your Account > Manage Your Content and Devices on the Amazon site.


Here you see that you can select multiple items from a given screen, which is new with the 2014 Fire line. Just long-tap to select each item, then use the Select ribbon to apply the same changes to all selected items. To exit without making any changes, use the ‘back’ icon, as indicated by the red arrow below Note that the “More” menu item, where the Collections options are located, isn’t shown because in this case I’ve selected two items that don’t use the Collections feature. I also tested it with a Kindle book and Kindle magazine selected, and in that case the More menu item did appear.


Books Menu and Screen Improvements

There are a number of improvements, but they’re subtle.

The first time you access the Books screen/tab, you’ll be prompted to enable Goodreads integration. If you already have a Goodreads account, just tap “Get Started” and your Fire will take care of the rest. If you’re wondering why no separate login is required, it’s because Amazon now owns Goodreads. Those who don’t already have a Goodreads account will be prompted to set one up and walked through the steps on-screen. Also note, the Cloud/Device selector for viewing the Kindle books you have stored in the Cloud or on the Device is only visible on the main Books screen; this is not a change, but you may not have noticed it in your older model Fire.


This screenshot shows the Goodreads integration menu that’s available from within your Kindle books after Goodreads integration has been set up. It basically makes it a lot easier to update your Goodreads shelves, ratings, reviews and so on, you no longer have to go to the Goodreads app or website to do those things.


Here you see the 2014 Fire’s Collections view for Books. Note that it still has the same List/Grid view options, but the pop-up selection menu for these options looks a little different than on a second-gen Fire. Also note the Goodreads icon in the top menu bar, at the far right. In this screenshot, I’d yet to set up Goodreads integration. After I did, that Goodreads banner at the top disappeared.


In this screen, I’ve drilled down from the main Collections screen shown above by selecting my own “Next Reads” Collection (a Collection I’d previously set up myself and had previously added Kindle books to). The Add and Close options are still there as before, but what I’d like to point out here is how much larger the book cover images are than on my second-generation HDX when I view a Collection. This is a HUGE improvement. See the next screen shot, below this one.


Below, you can see that when I open a given Collection on my second-gen Fire HDX, the pop-up selection menu is very small, and it’s difficult to read the individual book titles. Also, it’s not possible to enlarge the cover images just for the sake of deciding whether or not you want to download a given book; if you tap on any of the covers, the download immediately begins.


Below, you’re looking at my own “Immersion Reading” Collection of Audible audiobooks, which I had also previously created and populated myself, on the 2014 HD6. What I’d like to highlight here is the little Immersion Reading icon, indicated by the large yellow arrow. This icon appears in the upper right-hand corner of Audible audiobooks for which you have the matching Kindle book, to indicate you can use the Whispersync for Voice / Immersion Reading option for that audiobook. This new icon actually does away with the need for my custom-created Immersion Reading Collection, which I’d set up specifically to keep track of Audible titles for which I own (or intend to buy) the matching Kindle book.


Docs Options

Again, nothing Earth-shattering here but there are some differences compared to the second-gen Fire.

This screen shot shows the Docs sidebar menu open on the 2014 HD6. Note the “My Send-to-Kindle Docs” menu item; it displays a listing of the documents you’ve had sent to your Kindle using that feature. Send-to-Kindle is nothing new, but it’s being handled a little differently on the 2014 Fire menus and screens. There’s more information about Send-to-Kindle below, where I address the “Clip” menu item (looks like a globe, at the right, in the screenshot below).


Here’s what you get when you tap that Clip globe (again, this feature was also available on second-generation Fires): a prompt to use the Send-to-Kindle widget in your computer’s Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browser (sorry, it’s not compatible with Internet Explorer or Safari). If you tap the “Email me install links” button, the links to get the widget will be sent to your main email account on file with Amazon. Open that email on your regular computer, in either the Chrome or Firefox browser, and follow its directions to add the Send-to-Kindle widget to your browser. Once it’s there, you’ll have a handy Send-to-Kindle button right there in the browser and when you click it, the page/content you’re currently viewing will be sent to your Fire as a pdf file, and added to the Docs menu under “Cloud”. Send-to-Kindle has been available for a long time, but the new menus make it a little easier to use.


Here’s the new Add Docs selection screen, where you can bring docs down from the Cloud to your Fire. The feature and function haven’t changed, but they do look a little different; mostly, it’s just that the display is bigger. Remember, these screen shots came from the HD6, which only has a 6″ screen. Yet the larger icons and text make everything much more legible on the HD6 than on my second-generation HDX 8.9″. Compare to the same function on my second-generation HDX, below.



Here’s the same screen/function on my second-generation Fire HDX. So small!


Web / Silk Browser Options

There are two big improvements here.

Here’s the screen you see the first time you access the Silk web browser on the 2014 Fire:



Here’s what’s on that Options menu. Note the two new menu items, indicated by arrows. “Print Page” works amazingly well, so much more seamlessly than on my second-gen HDX. When I selected it as a test, the Fire immediately located my printer on my home wireless network. I tapped to select it and was presented with a typical Print menu, with Options to print all pages, print select pages, print in grayscale, etc. etc. I could never get the Print function to work on my HDX in all apps and functions; only certain apps and fuctions seemed able to “see” my printer. That Full Screen option is used to expand the web page you’re currently viewing all the way out to the borders of the screen.



Here’s the same Silk browser Options menu on my second-generation HDX. Everything’s smaller, and it doesn’t have the Print Page and Full Screen options.



Music Player / Photos

There are no significant differences to the Music screens and options, other than integration with Prime Music for Amazon Prime subscribers. If you’re a Prime subscriber, you’ll find handy links to Prime playlists and radio stations along with the usual links to your own music files on the device and in Amazon’s cloud.

In the Photos area, there are some new options for adding photos when you initially set up the Fire tablet. The first time you access the Photos screen/tab, you’ll see this setup screen:



As you go through each of the setup screens, you’ll be prompted to link your phone, Facebook account, and other accounts to make photos you have stored on those devices/sites accessible on your Fire tablet. The link only makes them accessible, it does not automatically download everything to the device. But that’s an option that will be available to you after the device(s) and account(s) is/are linked.


Some Of These Changes Are Coming to Second-Gen Fires, Too

Amazon has announced an automatic software update is being rolled out to second-generation Fires to add some of the features and functions of the new line, but since I’ve yet to get the update on my second-gen HDX I can’t say which features and functions are included. After I get it, I’ll write a follow-up post.


Bottom Line: Worth the Buy?

Absolutely! I have no idea how Amazon managed to pack so much quality and functionality into the 2014 HD6 at a price point of just $99, but they did. I love my second-generation HDX 8.9″, but it can’t slip into a purse or bag as easily as the HD6. The HD6 is also a lot zippier in terms of processing power and response times.

Note that the first few times you use a new Fire tablet, the various content menus will take some time to populate. The larger your content libraries, the longer this process will take. But once your content is fully populated, viewing, downloading and using your content will be noticeably faster on the 2014 line.

In addition to the improvements and changes in software I’ve detailed above, there are some hardware changes. The screen display can now fill the entire display area, where in past models there was always a black border of unused space all around. The menu redesign helps to support this feature by eliminating that sidebar menu/options ribbon that frequently appears on prior generation Fires.

The volume and on/off buttons have been relocated to the sides of the tablet (instead of the back, where they are on my second-gen HDX), which makes it a lot harder to press them accidentally. It also makes it a lot easier to take a screen shot by pressing the power and volume down buttons simultaneously. This same feature is there on my second-generation HDX, but it was kind of hit-and-miss. If I didn’t press the buttons with the exact right level of pressure and at the exact same instant, the screenshot wouldn’t work. On the HD6, it never fails!

I would not hesitate to grab a 2014 Fire HD6 as a holiday gift for a tween, teen or adult. It’s an amazing value!


A $99 Kindle Fire HD Tablet Leads the Way As Amazon Unveils Dazzling Array of New Kindle Models, Services

Screen shot 2014-09-17 at 9.53.43 PM

By Steve Windwalker

Amazon announced an impressive array of new hardware and services at small-group briefings last week, but the big news is the company’s introduction of the all-new Kindle Fire 6 tablet at just $99 — with a price, features, and hardware that allows the company to call it “the most powerful tablet under $100.” All of these models are available for pre-order right now, and all will begin shipping in October.

But that wasn’t all. The Kindle briefings also rocked some major new offerings in the all-important Kindle ecosystem for kids, in new eInk ereader hardware and software, in high-end Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 enhancements, and in family- or household-friendly features for most kinds of Amazon digital content across the full array of Kindle and Kindle-compatible devices:

  • Amazon announced a new-generation of eInk Kindles, including its “thinnest, most advanced Kindle ever” — a Paperwhite model that is now called the Kindle Voyage — at $199 and, in a continuation of its strategy of offering highly affordable entry devices, a new $79 basic Kindle with a touchscreen interface (for the first time) and a 20% faster processor and twice the storage of its $69 predecessor.
  • For children, Amazon is now offering what amounts to a dedicated kids’ Kindle that includes, for $149, a Kindle Fire 6, a molded rubber kid-friendly case, over 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, games and educational apps via a free one-year subscription to Free Time Unlimited as well as a quad-core processor, a vivid HD display, fron- and rear-facing cameras, Dolby Digital audio, and “an unprecedented 2-year worry-free guarantee.”
  • At the higher end, Amazon has held its $379 price for a new-model Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 featuring a quad core 2.5 GHz processor, a 70% faster graphics engine, 339 ppi display, exclusive new Dolby Atmos audio and a brand-new Fire OS 4 “Sangria” operating system that “adds hundreds of new features and platform enhancements, incluidng Firefly, ASAP, Smart Suspend, and other Amazon-exclusive features.

We had a chance to test drive all of these models today and it’s a strong array that should help Amazon continue its dominance in the ereader and ebook markets while gradually carving out a larger slice of the tablet market. As impressive as the new hardware is, a lot of what Amazon rolled out today involved nice, incremental enhancements in ease of use and performance that will make a more gradual, but very positive impression on customers. Among these are free unlimited storage for photos taken on Fire devices, a Smart Suspend power-saving system, “ASAP” for time-saving predictive streaming, and a new “Family Library” feature that allows family members to easily share apps, games, audiobooks, ebooks, and Prime Instant Video content, even if they use different Amazon accounts.

We’ll have more to share about all of this in the coming weeks and months, but we wanted to give an idea of what we all have to look forward to.

Amazon Announces the Biggest Game-Changer Yet in the eBook World:

READ FOR FREE with Kindle Unlimited


By Steve Windwalker
Amazon has done it again, and as usual, the winners are readers.

This morning the company launched Kindle Unlimited, which after a very nice 30-day free trial will allow readers unlimited reading or listening from among over 639,000 Kindle Books and over 2,000 audiobooks. The service will cost $9.99 a month after the free trial, and one easy way to understand what’s being offered is that it’s like “Netflix for ebooks.”

While we expect the catalog of books, author and publishers participating in Kindle Unlimited to blow past the million-title mark this year and continue to expand, the selection even at launch is pretty dazzling. This morning we selected seven titles to include in our daily BookGorilla email alert, just to give our readers a taste of the kind of top-tier, A-list bestsellers that are available absolutely FREE during the free trial:

  • The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century By Thomas Piketty
  • War Brides By Helen Bryan
  • Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt By Michael Lewis
  • That Summer Night (Callaways #6) By Barbara Freethy
  • Everything Is Illuminated: A Novel By Jonathan Safran Foer
  • The Best Medicine (A Bell Harbor Novel) By Tracy Brogan

Winners and Losers

We’ll be watching closely to see what new titles become available, but based on what we see already it seems likely that Kindle Unlimited will be as big a disruptive force for “business as usual” in the publishing world as the Kindle itself has been. We will no doubt continue to see misguided analyses claiming that Amazon will be competing with this, that and the other existing service, but any such “competition” will likely be akin to the centuries-old competition between the hammer and the nail: usually, one doesn’t even get to hear the nail say “ouch.” Nobody is in a position to compete with Amazon on this terrain.

Amazon seems committed to a pretty generous royalty structure for enrolled titles, which we think will ultimately amount to about $2 a copy for authors who participate in its KDP Select program. Given recent negotiations — and the Hachette stalemate — between Amazon and some large publishers, we wouldn’t hazard a guess as to what share those publishers and their associated authors might receive, but publishers who stay on the sidelines may find themselves in an untenable position — both with their authors and with their own corporate bean-counters — as the Kindle Unlimited catalog grows.

For people who read a lot, Kindle Unlimited is going to be awesome. We won’t talk ourselves blue in the face trying to persuade you beyond noting that the seven very popular titles listed above would currently cost you $66.15 in the Kindle Store without Kindle Unlimited. After all, we think all of us will make better use of our time looking for great books to download FREE.

It’s probably silly of us to take any pleasure in having predicted this program almost exactly six years ago on pages 90-91 of the paperback edition of The Complete User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle, and we didn’t get it exactly right, anyway. We called it Kindle Buffet, said it would be a Kindle reading subscription plan “on steroids,” and we were way off on how such an offering would be priced: we said it could cost as much as $50 a month. My, how things have changed!

Start your free 30-day trial today here.

Here’s the guts of Amazon’s press release from earlier today:

Introducing Kindle Unlimited: Unlimited Reading and Listening on Any Device–Just $9.99 a Month

Date(s): 18-Jul-2014 7:30 AM

Read freely from over 600,000 books–available on Kindle devices, as well as free Kindle reading apps for iOS, Android and more

Listen to thousands of audiobooks from Audible, or switch easily between reading and listening with Whispersync for Voice

Enjoy best sellers including the Harry Potter series, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hunger Games trilogy, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and Flash Boys

The most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Life of Pi, and Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Start a free 30-day trial today

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jul. 18, 2014— (NASDAQ:AMZN)– today introduced Kindle Unlimited–a new subscription service which allows customers to freely read as much as they want from over 600,000 Kindle books, and listen as much as they want to thousands of Audible audiobooks, all for only $9.99 a month. Finding a great book is easy, and there are never any due dates–just look for the Kindle Unlimited logo on eligible titles and click “Read for Free.” Customers can choose from best sellers like The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and The Lord of the Rings, and with thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible, like The Handmaid’s Tale and Water for Elephants, the story can continue in the car or on the go. Kindle Unlimited subscribers also get the additional benefit of a complimentary three-month Audible membership, with access to the full selection of Audible titles. Kindle Unlimited is available starting today and is accessible from Kindle devices or with Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps. Start your free 30-day trial today here.

“With Kindle Unlimited, you won’t have to think twice before you try a new author or genre–you can just start reading and listening,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle. “In addition to offering over 600,000 eBooks, Kindle Unlimited is also by far the most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks and eBooks together. With thousands of Whispersync for Voice-enabled audiobooks to choose from, you can easily switch between reading and listening to a book, allowing the story to continue even when your eyes are busy. We hope you take advantage of the 30-day free trial and try it for yourself.”

Kindle Unlimited features include:

  • Unlimited reading: Access over 600,000 books including best sellers like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Water for Elephants, Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, All the King’s Men, Wonder Boys, Ask for It, The Princess Bride, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, The Atlantis Gene, Kitchen Confidential, The Sisterhood, Crazy Little Thing, The Blind Side, and The Giver, plus thousands of classics such as Animal Farm, To the Lighthouse, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Cat’s Cradle, and The Good Earth, as well as books featuring beloved children’s characters from Sesame Street, and useful reference titles including books from the For Dummies series and Lonely Planet travel guides.
  • Unlimited listening: Keep the story going with unlimited access to more than 2,000 audiobooks from Audible with Whispersync for Voice, and switch seamlessly between reading and listening to customer favorites like the Hunger Games trilogy, Life of Pi, The Handmaid’s Tale, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, The Great Santini, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Winter’s Tale, Boardwalk Empire, El Narco, Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies, Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, The Finisher, Johnny Carson, The Stranger I Married, and Life Code.
  • Kindle exclusives: Choose from hundreds of thousands of books only found on Kindle, including Brilliance by Marcus Sakey, The Hangman’s Daughter series by Oliver Pötzsch, War Brides by Helen Bryan, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct and Matthew Hope books, When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath, Chasing Shadows by CJ Lyons, and Sick by Brett Battles.
  • Short Reads: For a quick escape, select from thousands of books that are 100 pages or less, including Kindle Singles from Stephen King, Andy Borowitz, and Nelson DeMille, and short fiction from Amazon Publishing’s StoryFront imprint.
  • Free three-month Audible membership: In addition to the thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible included in Kindle Unlimited, subscribers get a complimentary three-month Audible membership, with access to more than 150,000 titles.
  • Popular Kindle features: Enjoy all the great Kindle features customers love such as Whispersync, Popular Highlights, X-Ray, customer reviews, and Goodreads integration.
  • Read and listen everywhere: Access across Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps for iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and phones, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC, Mac and Windows 8–so you always have your library with you and never lose your place.

Update: The latest on BookGorilla for authors and publishers (Summer 2014)

“Another fabulous BookGorilla promo….  Hi,  just wanted to tell you that eight of my books are in the top 100 of their category from my BookGorilla promos. Sales are staying high for over a week. The free books continue to sell, as well. And those that are in a series tend to pull the others up. Thought you’d be interested. Thank you so much. ”

–Suzanne Jenkins, author

Greetings from BookGorilla,

We love the fact that BookGorilla receives email messages every day like this one from Suzanne Jenkins, author of the Pam of Babylon and Greektown Stories series. And we’re thrilled that we’re getting more and more national attention like the nice coverage that we got this week in a pretty comprehensive Daily Kos report — nice not only because we were featured prominently on a high-traffic site, but also because the report demonstrated clearly how BookGorilla is different from every other ebook alert.

There’s always a lot to be excited about here at BookGorilla, and we want to do a better job of sharing the news. We often feel that staying in touch with authors and publishers comes naturally, because authors and publishers are among the most prolific readers. You’re an integral part of the hundreds of thousands of readers with whom we communicate on a daily basis, so you may already be aware of much of what we’re sharing here. But we also know that we can do more to communicate with you as our author and publisher partners, and we’re committed to trying harder to keep in touch in that way in the coming months.

First, we want you to know that we’ve been working hard at our constant goal of sustained growth. Over the past 15 months, since our beta launch in March 2013, our reach has continued to grow at an average rate of a little over 10% per month. Each day — through our combination of email alerts, free apps and social media connections — we alert well over 200,000 individual readers to that day’s best deals in the Kindle Store, including A-list bestsellers, freebies, deeply discounted midlist and backlist titles, and amazing boxed set deals featuring popular titles at just a few pennies each.

Throughout this period of rapid growth, we have kept advertising rates for authors and publishers unchanged. We’re sure we could charge more and still be successful, but we look at author and publisher efforts to promote your books via BookGorilla as a partnership in which we all have something to invest, and something to gain, rather than as a high-stakes gamble where you spend huge amounts of money for the thrill of temporarily high sales rankings. That’s why we are also committed to continuing throughout  2014 and early 2015 without any increase in these advertising rates. Throughout that period, you’ll still be able to promote your books via BookGorilla for as little as $40 to $50, or via a Kindle Nation Daily spot with a free BookGorilla slideover for as little as $99.99.

One reason we are able to keep these rates low is that we dedicate only a small portion of our daily Kindle ebook recommendations to ad-supported titles. Instead, most of our revenue comes directly from Amazon Associates fees, which continue to grow at explosive rates because of our commitment, to our readers, to select the best deals every day on the books our subscribers really want to read. Most of our revenue comes from pleasing our readers with deals they never thought they’d see, often on books they already wanted to read.

Consequently, when an author or publisher has a book on our daily alert, it’s a lot like being on the “favorites” shelf at a popular bookstore. Whether the book is independently published or comes from one of the Big Five publishers, it may well occupy “shelf space” next to a bestseller by Janet Evanovich, Stephen King or John Green. No stigma here — like we say, it’s like being prominently displayed in a popular bookstore. We think that has a lot to do with the fact that our paid advertisers include several of the Big Five publishers as well as hundreds of indie authors and small presses, and we know that it also has a lot to do with our industry leading open rates.

Although we’re constrained because we actually honor our agreement with Amazon not to report specific actual sales figures, we’ve been excited lately to watch thousands of individual paid titles generate sales in the hundreds of copies, and sometimes in the thousands of copies, through their inclusion in BookGorilla alerts. We continue to include a limited number of freebies in our listings, and those titles regularly experience download traffic in the 10,000 to 20,000-copy range.

We don’t have 4 million readers, but we have real readers. Unlike some other alerts that depend almost 100% on ad-supported titles, only a small percentage of all the books we recommend are ad-supported: less than 15% of all title recommendations. We never purchase subscriber lists (or share ours with anyone else, for that matter), which is among the reasons we believe our readership is truly made up of the best readers in the world.

Because we have so much faith in our community of readers, we let them make the important choices. Our subscribers can choose from among over 100 genres and sub-categories, and we leave it totally up to our readers whether they would like to see 12, 25, or 50 ebook recommendations in their daily alerts. We’re confident that we’ve hit the sweet spot in providing the right amount of information so that readers can scan quickly through our emails and make wise choices about which books they’d like to consider more seriously, because the percentage of our subscribers who select 25 or more titles has actually grown, from 87% to 89%, since our early days.

In the past few months we’ve had a couple of very successful BookGorilla app launches — one in the Amazon AppStore for a Kindle Fire app and one in the Google Play store for an android app. We’ve already had an app approved for Amazon’s new Fire Phone, and we’re working toward moving even closer to complete coverage when it comes to smartphone apps. And that’s just a start — we have other very exciting developments in the works that will allow better than ever connections between readers and the authors they love (or have just discovered!)

We promise to work harder to stay in touch with you in the coming months, and we hope you’ll stay in touch with us.

Have a great summer!



Steve Windwalker


ps – We’re all pretty busy, and I don’t want that last bit about “staying in touch with you” to scare anyone off, so I’ll take a moment to list a few recent and upcoming topics below.

How to sign up for affordable advertising opportunities on BookGorilla

BookGorilla ads begin at just $40 to $50 and currently max out at $200. Our advertisers range from bestselling indie authors to several of the Big Five publishers, but the same rules apply to everyone and you can schedule your own spots online without a lot of mystery and drama. Click here for info and sign-up. (Please be sure to check availability info, which is updated daily on the sign-up page, before you submit, as that will save time for you as well as us!)

How to get a free BookGorilla spot when you buy a KND sponsorship

Straight-up BookGorilla spots beginning at $40 or $50 are great, but here’s another deal that could be just as good, depending on your needs:

Just click on our booking calendar to book, schedule and pay for a KND sponsorship, and we’ll give you a free “slide-over spot” on BookGorilla if your book qualifies in terms of promotional pricing, quality review, and our restrictions against the same title repeating more than once in a 14-day period. If you qualify, make sure you fill out the form on our Free BookGorilla Slide-over info page and send it on to

Recent and Upcoming Topics for Authors and Publishers

Recent topics:

Upcoming topics:

  • Ebook pricing strategies on BookGorilla
  • Kindle Countdown Deal strategies on BookGorilla
  • Boxed Set Alerts on BookGorilla
  • How to avoid having your book disqualified from a BookGorilla promotion
  • How did your book get on BookGorilla without your having purchased a promotional spot? (Hint: It’s a good sign.)
  • Using KND’s Free Book Highlighter in conjunction with BookGorilla (Hint: it’s not automatic, but we check the FBH list if, and only if, we have space.)

Amazon unveils the Fire Phone!

By Len Edgerly and Steve Windwalker

Thousands of media, developers and real, live Amazon customers gathered in Seattle today to see Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos launch the company’s latest product, and BookGorilla was there with live coverage from our friend Len Edgerly.

The product, as you already know, is Amazon’s brand new Fire Phone.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 1.52.27 PMBezos described it, in a word, as “gorgeous,” and it is definitely going to be a game changer in all kinds of ways. We are all trying to keep up, to take in these new ways of looking at a screen and navigating a smart phone, reports Len. Make that “brilliant phone,” a new category is being presented to us today.

Indeed, the Fire Phone is going to seem magical to most of us, at least for the next few months, but it’s also amazing to think that there are kids who will grow up taking all of this for granted.

Here are the details from Amazon:

Introducing Fire, the First Smartphone Designed by Amazon

New breakthrough innovations—Dynamic Perspective, Firefly button, and more

Seamless integration with Amazon’s vast ecosystem—over 33 million songs, apps, games, movies,

TV shows, books, and more

Only smartphone with Mayday, ASAP, X-Ray, and Second Screen

Dynamic Perspective SDK and Firefly SDK now available

Fire is available exclusively on AT&T, the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network

Limited time, introductory offer—12 months of Prime included

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jun. 18, 2014– (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon today unveiled Fire, the first smartphone designed by Amazon. Fire is the only smartphone with Dynamic Perspective and Firefly, two new breakthrough technologies that allow you to see and interact with the world through a whole new lens. Dynamic Perspective uses a new sensor system to respond to the way you hold, view, and move Fire, enabling experiences not possible on other smartphones. Firefly quickly recognizes things in the real worldweb and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, movies, music, and millions of products, and lets you take action in secondsall with the simple press of the Firefly button.

Fire, the First Smartphone Designed by Amazon (Photo: Business Wire)

Fire, the First Smartphone Designed by Amazon (Photo: Business Wire)

“Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand—instant access to Amazon’s vast content ecosystem and exclusive features like the Mayday button, ASAP, Second Screen, X-Ray, free unlimited photo storage, and more,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO. “The Firefly button lets you identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, artwork, and over 100 million items, including songs, movies, TV shows, and products—and take action in seconds. We invented a new sensor system called Dynamic Perspective that recognizes where a user’s head is relative to the device—we use it to offer customers a more immersive experience, one-handed navigation, and gestures that actually work. And this is only the beginning—the most powerful inventions are the ones that empower others to unleash their creativity—that’s why today we are launching the Dynamic Perspective SDK and the Firefly SDK—we can’t wait to see how developers surprise us.”

Dynamic Perspective—Immersive Smartphone Experience

Dynamic Perspective uses four ultra-low power specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs built into the front face of Fire, a dedicated custom processor, sophisticated real-time computer vision algorithms, and a new high-performing and power-efficient graphics rendering engine. Dynamic Perspective features include:

  • One-handed gestures: Auto-scroll, tilt, swivel and peek for quicker, easier navigation and a better media and entertainment experience. For example, with auto-scroll, customers can read a long web page or a book without ever having to touch the screen; tilt in Amazon Music shows song lyrics; swivel instantly reveals quick actions; peek in Maps shows layered information like Yelp ratings and reviews.
  • Immersive apps and games: Dynamic Perspective enables a new class of apps and games that are more immersive, and make it quicker and easier for the user to access information. For example, peek to instantly see close-up front and back views of a dress in the new Amazon Shopping app for Fire. In games like Lili, take on the character’s viewpoint and move your head to look around corners, obstacles, and other objects.
  • Enhanced Carousel: Stay productive with real-time updates and take action right from the home screen—triage email, find recent photos, access most visited websites, return missed calls, view appointments, and more. Developers can customize the contents of their dynamic app and how it responds to user actions. For example, Zillow’s app in the carousel shows property information based on the location, so customers can access search results on nearby homes from the carousel without having to launch the Zillow app. USA TODAY shows headlines most relevant to customer’s interest—someone who frequents football in the Sports section will see those related headlines appear in the carousel.

Starting today, Amazon is introducing the Dynamic Perspective SDK that enables developers to build new experiences with this groundbreaking technology.

Firefly Technology–Illuminate Your World

Firefly combines Amazon’s deep catalog of physical and digital content with multiple image, text and audio recognition technologies to quickly identify web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, plus over 100 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs, and products. Simply press and hold the dedicated Firefly button to discover helpful information and take action in seconds.

  • Printed phone numbers, email, web addresses, QR, and bar codes: Firefly identifies printed text on signs, posters, magazines and business cards—make a call, send an email, save as a contact, or go to the website without typing out long URLs or email addresses.
  • 245,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels: Firefly recognizes movies and TV episodes, and uses IMDb for X-Ray to show actors, plot synopses, and related content—add titles to Watch List or download and start watching immediately.
  • 35 million songs: Firefly recognizes music and uses Amazon Music’s rich catalog to show information about the artist—play more songs, add them to your Wish List, or download instantly to your Fire. Developers, such as iHeartRadio and StubHub, used the SDK to build Firefly-enabled apps, so customers can create a new radio station based on the song or find concert tickets for the artist.
  • 70 million products, including household items, books, DVDs, CDs, video games, and more: Access product details, add items to your Wish List, or order on

The Firefly SDK is available starting today so developers can invent new ways to use this advanced technology. Later this year, Firefly will include artwork recognition, foreign language translation, and wine label recognition powered by Vivino.

Amazon Exclusive Features and Vast Digital Ecosystem—All Deeply Integrated

Fire seamlessly integrates Amazon’s vast digital ecosystem for instant access to over 33 million songs, apps, games, movies, TV shows, books, audiobooks, and magazines, including thousands of exclusives. Plus, Prime members get unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes at no additional cost with Prime Instant Video, over 500,000 books to borrow with the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and the all-new Prime Music—unlimited streaming and download of more than a million songs and hundreds of expert-programmed playlists—all at no additional cost.

Fire deeply integrates Amazon exclusive services:

  • Mayday is now available over 3G and 4G, in addition to Wi-Fi—simply hit the Mayday button in quick actions and an Amazon expert will appear via live video to co-pilot you through any feature on the device. Amazon experts are able to draw on the screen, talk you through how to do a task, or do it for you—whatever works best. Mayday is available 24×7, 365 days a year, and it’s free. Amazon’s response time goal for Mayday is 15 seconds or less—since launch, the average response time has been 9.75 seconds.
  • ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) predicts which movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and prepares them for instant playback before you even hit play.
  • X-Ray helps you get more from books, music, movies, and TV shows. Explore the bones of a book, including characters, ideas and background with a single tap on the screen; bring the power of IMDb right to Fire for trivia on movies and TV shows; plus, with X-Ray for Music, see synchronized lyrics display while you listen to your favorite song.
  • Second Screen lets you fling TV shows and movies from Fire phone to your Fire TV, PlayStation or any other Miracast-enabled device. Second Screen turns your TV into the primary screen and frees up Fire phone to provide playback controls and a customized display for X-Ray, all without leaving the TV show or movie you’re watching.
  • Free unlimited cloud storage of photos taken with Fire, automatically backed-up wirelessly and available across Amazon devices and Cloud Drive apps so you have access anywhere.

Beautiful Industrial Design & Powerful Hardware

Built using premium materials, including Gorilla Glass 3 for the rear and front, aluminum buttons, stainless steel details and a rubberized polyurethane grip area, Fire is optimized for beauty, hand comfort and powerful performance:

  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.2 GHz processor and 2GB RAM for excellent fluidity and image rendering.
  • 4.7-inch HD display with an ambient light sensor and Dynamic Image Contrast that delivers better outdoor viewing.
  • Global LTE and connectivity with nine bands of LTE, four bands of GSM, five bands of UMTS for better voice coverage and faster data speeds, 802.11ac support, Wi-Fi channel bonding, NFC, and Bluetooth.
  • Dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus for a virtual surround sound experience.
  • Advanced imaging system with custom-tuned 13MP rear-facing camera with backside illumination, LED flash, 5-element f/2.0 lens, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), and high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities for beautiful, crisp photos, even in low-light conditions. Fire also includes a 2.1MP front-facing camera. Both front and rear-facing cameras record smooth 1080p HD videos.
  • Reliable backup and restore leveraging the experience and operational excellence of Amazon Web Services and its cloud technology. Fire customers can automatically back up device settings, notes, bookmarks, messages, and installed applications—no need to manually configure or connect to a computer.

Availability & Exclusive Network Partner

Fire ships on July 25 and is available exclusively on AT&T—the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network. Starting today, customers can pre-order Fire at Fire with 32GB is available for $199 with a two-year contract—that’s an extra 16GB of memory for the same price as many other premium smartphones—or zero money down for as little as $27.09 a month from AT&T on Next 18. Fire is also available with 64GB for $299 with a two-year contract or starting at $31.25/month from AT&T on Next 18.

Limited Time, Introductory Offer

Starting today, customers can take advantage of an introductory, limited time offer—buy Fire and get 12 months of Amazon Prime included—FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video, unlimited, ad-free streaming and downloading of over a million songs and hundreds of playlists, and over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Existing Prime members get an additional 12 months added to their account.


Are Kindle bestseller prices rising or falling?

Are Kindle bestseller prices rising or falling? They may be rising for everybody else, but if you’re a BookGorilla subscriber, they are falling for you

By Steve Windwalker


There’s been plenty of commentary focusing on a recent pattern of rising prices for ebook bestsellers — even, alas, in the Kindle Store. Our colleague and friend Bufo Calvin offered some clear analysis recently on his I Love My Kindle blog, under the headline Kindle New York Times bestsellers shockingly up almost $1 a month so far this year. And if that were the whole story, it would spell bad news for the budget-conscious avid readers that make up a major part of Kindle Nation.

It mayBKG-ICON seem counterintuitive, but there’s also some great news for these ebook consumers, especially the growing number of readers who make use of free daily alerts from BookGorilla. To show you what we mean, let’s focus on the Top 100 Bestselling Books of 2013 in the Kindle Store, according to Amazon’s own full-year Kindle bestseller list.

The average prices for those Top 100 bestsellers as of their release dates was $10.08, and their average price today, now that most of them have been out for a while, is $6.64 (see table). 30 of these books were initially priced between $10.99 and $17.99 — prices that most Kindle owners, according to our surveys, consider exorbitant. No surprises in any of that.

But here’s the good news: 71 of those same 100 books have been featured on the daily BookGorilla ebook deal alert during the past year, and the average deal price for those 71 books was $3.17.

So, if you had purchased those 71 books on their release dates, they would have cost you a total of $794.50 (an average of $9.78).

But patient, budget-conscious readers could have purchased all 71 books on the days of their BookGorilla specials for just $225.31. That’s a savings of $469.19 — well over $6 per book!

And far from being limited to popular self-published 99-centers, this list includes nearly all of the biggest books of the year, starting with 25 of the top 27 Kindle bestsellers of 2013, including Dan Brown’s Inferno, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Grisham’s Sycamore Row, and other blockbusters by J.K. Rowling, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Pulitzer Prize winner Donna Tartt and more.

Obviously, millions of readers paid those high, impatience-driven prices … not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, how were they to know when these must-read titles would be available at discounts of 60 to 90 percent, especially when such deals are often available only for a day or two?

That’s where BookGorilla comes in. It’s a totally free ebook recommendation service that was launched 13 months ago by the same incredible group of folks who produce Kindle Nation Daily, an ebook community that we have been building since Amazon introduced the Kindle in November 2007. Since then, other ebook sites have jumped on the bandwagon, and ebook recommendation services, in particular, have proliferated.

But BookGorilla takes a very different approach.

BookGorilla is driven primarily by a unique ability to discover and share — in a very personalized way — the best deals every morning on the kind of top-tier A-list bestsellers mentioned above, along with very popular backlist titles and truly curated “discoveries” of the best books from small presses and independent authors.

Equally important, less than 20% of the ebooks recommended by BookGorilla are ad-supported. With a revenue model fueled by about 70% Amazon Associates fees and 30% advertising revenues, BookGorilla has a powerful incentive to deliver on one of its key slogans:

“Instead of pushing you to buy books that we want you to buy, BookGorilla shows you books that you actually want to read, at prices you never dreamed possible!”

It’s no accident that we launched BookGorilla just as a federal court brought an end to price-fixing collusion by Apple and five of the Big Six publishers. As a result of that change, the largest publishers themselves have joined in the same fierce price competition that was previously limited mainly to indie authors and smaller publishers.

It’s one thing to compete on price, of course, and another to get the word out about your best discounts. Now the ranks of BookGorilla’s advertisers include several Big Six and other major publishers, but whether or not a title is ad-supported, BookGorilla still enforces its same stringent price and quality requirements for “deal-worthiness.”

It is likely that the major publishers, and retailers like Amazon, will continue to price most books, most of the time, at very profitable levels: $8 to $15 for new-release bestsellers, and $4 to $10 for strong backlist titles. It’s up to consumers whether they want to pay those prices, and many are driven to pay them by impatience, the next book group selection or the demands of a course syllabus.

But for the significant number of readers who want to save a few bucks, the deals that BookGorilla recommends each morning mean that, with a little patience, readers can buy just about any book they might want, including very recent bestsellers, at much, much better prices.

The average price of all books on BookGorilla for March 2014 was $1.03. Given that there are no shipping charges for an ebook, that places the cost of buying Kindle books somewhere between the cost of using a public library and shopping at a used bookstore, for BookGorilla subscribers who use the service on a daily basis. As a result, budget-conscious readers may have a little less to fear in the pattern of rising bestseller prices that Bufo Calvin has described.

Is there a “best day” to buy books, or promote books, in the Kindle Store?

By Steve Windwalker

It will come as no surprise to BookGorilla subscribers and KND readers that we spend a lot of time communicating with authors and publishers. Authors and publishers want to connect with readers, and they understand that our community is made up of the greatest readers in the world, pound for pound.

There are two questions that authors and publishers ask us more than any others:

  • What’s the best promotional price for a Kindle book?
  • What’s the best day of the week to promote a Kindle book?

may2014calWe’ll put the discussion of pricing off for another post on another day, but let’s take this opportunity to focus on the relative merits of different days of the week:

  • What’s the best day of the week to promote a Kindle book?
  • Or, from a reader’s point of view: which day of the week is the most likely day for you to go online to look at possible ebook downloads, and perhaps to make an ebook purchase?

(BookGorilla provides a good barometer to evaluate this question, because BookGorilla alerts are structurally the same every day, regardless of which day of the week it is.)

We’ve just reviewed the past 10 weeks of BookGorilla stats, and it’s an interesting picture.

The orthodox view among online marketing experts is that there is less traffic on the internet on weekends, and consequently that weekends are a less worthwhile time to promote whatever someone is promoting.

The BookGorilla experience confirms the first part of this orthodox view, but not the second.

In other words, we find that “open rates” for BookGorilla alerts are slightly lower on weekends: Saturday is the lowest day of the week with an average estimated 47.12% open rate, and the weekend average is 47.39% compared with 47.82% on weekdays:

Average Estimated Daily Open Rates

  • Monday – 48.21%
  • Tuesday – 47.56%
  • Wednesday – 48.01%
  • Thursday – 47.79%
  • Friday – 47.54%
  • Saturday – 47.12%
  • Sunday – 47.65%

But that’s not the end of the story. Although slightly fewer subscribers open their BookGorilla alerts on weekends, those that do open them are more likely to purchase Kindle books. If every day were the same, the percentage of average weekly Kindle books downloaded on each day of the week would of course be one-seventh, or 14.29%. Instead, what we find is that the weekend is prime time for paid Kindle downloads :

Percentage of Average Weekly Kindle Books Downloaded by Day of Week (Paid Kindle Books):

  • Monday – 13.90%
  • Tuesday – 15.12%
  • Wednesday – 13.42%
  • Thursday – 13.37%
  • Friday – 13.78%
  • Saturday – 14.98%
  • Sunday – 15.42%

In other words, Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday are the top three days for paid Kindle downloads via BookGorilla, in that order. It makes sense to us, because even if our subscribers are slightly less likely to be online on the weekends, that factor is offset by the notion that many people have more time on the weekends, more time to read, and more likelihood to spend some time and a dollar or two looking for their next great read.

We share this information with some trepidation, of course. What if authors and publishers go on strike against offering promotions for BookGorilla readers on Thursdays, which is the lowest day of the week by a tiny margin? But we’re hoping that common sense will prevail, because after all, there really isn’t that much deviation, on any of the seven days, from the 14.29% norm. And we should also point out, of course, that BookGorilla’s experience is not necessarily predictive for other sites.

Do you have a favorite day of the week to buy books? Or a favorite day for reading? And of course, it’s okay with us if you answer “every day” on both counts.