Tag Archives: E-book

E-reader Lust: How Amazon’s Newest Paperwhite and It’s MatchBook Program Can Make You a Better Reader

5 Sep

The Kindle Paperwhite is incredibly bright, offering no glare in outdoor conditions and a strong contrast for readers, making it easy on the eye.

My e-reader lust knows no bounds. Perhaps because I am such a voracious reader and love ebooks as much as paper ones (sometimes more) I’ve yet to meet the e-reader I didn’t like – Kobo, Nook, Kindle, and tablets like the Nexus or my wonderful iPad (both sizes are amazing). I have an iPad which I use for other aspects of my life, but naturally my Kindle app (and iBook and Nook apps) are the center of my reading existence as they allow me to access the more than 1300 ebooks I have in my Amazon account (and no, I am not making that number up). With so many authors putting out novellas and short stories ONLY available in e-book form (and many outstanding authors debuting solely with electronic books), I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the romance genre without one.

Yet despite my slutiness in all gadgets electronic, I do believe strongly in Kindle products and apps because I think that Amazon has the market cornered with its combination of great selection, some of the best prices, and access to my library with virtually every electronic device on my desk and in my pocketbook. Whether it’s my phone, computer or iPad, I can grab a hold of my books virtually anywhere and since I will begin reading my book in progress if you leave me alone for two minutes, that’s pretty important to me.

I actually bought a basic level Kindle last Christmas as a present to myself because 1) with the push buttons to advance rather than a touch screen I could put it in a ziplock and read ebooks during my marathon bubble baths, 2) I’m an Amazon Prime member for the free shipping and Amazon Instant Video access (so worth $79 per year) and that means I get to borrow books for free each month with an actual Kindle device and 3) it was only $69.

The shot of Goodreads on the newest Paperwhite.

All the various Kindles since the original one debuted haven’t really tempted me since their color screens and multimedia abilities are all matched, if not surpassed by my iPad 2. But when the Kindle Paperwhite came on the scene, oh, that’s when my e-reader infidelity ramped up! The Paperwhite is light just like my original Kindle (it’s the height and depth of a ballpoint pen, so extremely comfortable to hold) but the contrast with its e-ink beats everything on the market, with a no-glare screen that makes reading into the wee hours easy on tired eyes. But the newest Paperwhite, just announced a couple of days ago and priced at $119, has features which have ramped up the urgency and catapulted it into this year’s holiday gift category. Namely, Amazon is choosing this model of Kindle as the featured device to promote its seamless integration with Goodreads.

Now THIS is a development. While some people threw up their hands when Goodreads was acquired by Amazon earlier this year, I haven’t noticed any changes to that community as of yet, so I’m not getting my knickers in a twist about the partnership, particularly because I was hoping something like this would occur. You see, with those aforementioned 1300 books, I spend a pretty decent amount of time putting titles into my Goodreads account since I use it to religious track my reading, and a device/Goodreads integration would save me a lot of time and energy.

Organizing your Kindle books into collections is only an option on actual Kindle devices.

I adore Goodreads not just for the rating and tracking ability, but because I can organize my books into shelves, which are mostly for me to indicate where I keep said book (“in kindle,” “Lendle”, “my paper copy” or “in library”). But with the endless stream of book covers in my Kindle app, my inner librarian aches for a better way to organize these. On any actual Kindle device you can actually organize your books into “Collections” which would be utterly A-M-A-Z-I-N-G as I have always wanted to push each new book I buy and finish into subgenre romance categories (Paranormal, Suspense, Contemporary, Holiday, etc.) which would make it a breeze to pick for better blogging. Having my NetGalley books in a “Review These” collection would also be pretty nifty, making me that much more efficient, and this librarian adores efficiency like Seven of Nine loves running a diagnostic (Star Trek Voyager fans, anyone?)

Whether it’s with a thirty cent Ziplock bag or a state-of-the-art waterproof case, reading and baths are synonymous for romance readers.

But attachment to touch buttons is also becoming a thing of the past as the bathtub becomes fair game with the advent of accessories like the DryCase which works with a variety of devices (including my iPad) and would enable me to bring any device (*manic giggle*) into my fabulous cast iron tub circa 1930. I could even use their DryBuds to listen to music while I’m soaking since the case has a waterproof headphones jack! My God, I’d never get out…Take a look at the video to see how great this is and they are not even expensive – the DryCase retails for around $60 for the tablet size and the special earbuds are around $30. Considering that I’d pay as much for a decorative case that wouldn’t even offer protection from rain, I don’t consider that an exorbitant one-time cost.

MatchBook, bundling print and ebooks for voracious readers who want their authors anywhere, anytime.

Okay, so my most-wanted reading device is clearly fantastic, but Amazon also listened to experts like those at Publisher’s Weekly and realized that bundling ebooks with print books was a damn clever way to push more books. Duuuhhhhh. Enter MatchBook (super clever name!) where – like their audiobook offers which are discounted when you purchase the ebook – an ebook version of a book might be offered at a significant discount, with the majority landing in the $.99 to $2.99 range.

This could be a goldmine for Amazon, as I sometime make a print/Kindle choice for a lot of my books, often choosing a used print copy to save money since the Kindle version is not a discounted price (if I’m not going to pay the list price for the paper book, I’m hesitant to do it for the Kindle version). A used copy makes Amazon less money (and makes the publisher no money since they got their profit on the first sale of the book), but by bundling a new book and it’s ebook companion, I get two versions of the book (which I like to have for my favorite authors and series) and Amazon and the publisher make more of a royalty off me, while I actually save money. MatchBook will be retroactive, offering readers the discounted ebook versions off everything they’ve purchased from Amazon since 1996 that has an eligible ebook. With those 1300 books, I’m kind of curious to see how many offers I might have!

So I’ll be going to sleep with a smile on my face, dreaming of Paperwhites and bubble baths and even more books for my money. Take a look and see if Amazon’s newest offerings can fulfill your e-reader lust or if another device will fit the bill, but whatever you do, keep reading.

Series Review: Who Did She Bribe for the Sexy Covers? The Play-by-Play Series by Jaci Burton

6 Mar

Today was the release date of the latest book in Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series, which has to be, hands down, the HOTTEST covers in contemporary romance. I had her first book, The Perfect Play, on my to-read list for a while, but always choked at the full retail price for the ebook. Normally I lean toward ebooks under $6 for my romance addiction, but I will pay full price for a known entity who I trust and can’t live without. Not having read anything by Jaci before, I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the risk, but the continued good reviews on Goodreads convinced me to chance it. It was worth it!

Sexy, professional quarterback Mick Riley is at yet another glittering party when a gorgeous woman catches his eye. Tara Lincoln is the up and coming event planner who doesn’t immediately fawn all over him, which Mick realizes is just what he’s been missing. They tumble into bed for a passionate one night stand, but after she sneaks away in the morning to go back to her teenage son and her work, he realizes that he wants more. Much more.

I loved this book – the characterization was outstanding and Jaci manages to introduce the whole family effortlessly (remember, this is a series), making the reader fall in love with the Riley clan.  Tara and Mick both have their baggage, but it’s nothing each other can’t handle.  As they prove that to one another, they fall deeper in love, but Mick’s career, specifically his dedicated agent who isn’t sold on Tara’s role in his life, could cause these two to part.

Having adored the first book, I was sincerely worried about the second one, Changing the Game, considering the focus was the romance between Gavin Riley, Mick’s professional baseball playing brother, and the cold agent who represents them both, Liz Darnell.  Liz was portrayed in the first book as very calculating (exactly what a good agent should be) but someone who nevertheless cares about the players she represents.  Liz realized at the end of the last book how she betrayed Mick’s trust and attempted to make amends, but he has dropped her and gone onto another agent.

Liz has secretly been in love with Gavin for years, but never wanted to mix business and pleasure.  Coming from an abusive home, Liz has used her brains and devastating beauty to claw her way to the top but in losing Mick’s friendship she is beginning to worry about the cost of her life decisions.  Jaci does an amazing job showing the vulnerability of Liz as well as the tough family dynamics that have shaped Gavin’s personality.  My worries were totally unfounded as this couple hit a home run for me!

Just today, the third book in the series, Taking a Shot, focusing on Jenna Riley, the edgy sister who has stayed home to manage the family sports bar, debuted.  Readers were introduced to ice hockey player Tyler Anderson in the previous book when Liz takes him on as one of her clients and the sparks fly when when he and Jenna lay eyes on each other.

The only problem is that Jenna wants nothing to do with professional sports figures, having quite enough experience with her brothers and the testosterone soaked environment she works in. Jaci’s formula works fabulously well here again. Jenna has a ton of suppressed creativity that didn’t get nurtured in a house with a focus on sports while Ty is still nursing the scars of his parents disastrous divorce.  Neither is looking for love, but slowly begin to realize that there is something more than incendiary chemistry between them.  The question is: can they make it work?

Like so many writers, Jaci mentioned in a recent interview that she was in love with romance from an early age and considers herself influenced by not only classic authors of the 70s and 80s like Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsay, and Jude Deveraux but also modern powerhouses like Nora Roberts, Maya Banks, and Jill Shalvis.

Jaci’s voice is an extremely modern one and has a tone that reflects the truly modern contemporary romance novel.  While many readers are used to the degree of sensuality that is seen in Harlequin Blaze or some Berkley historicals, this series is published by Heat (a division of Berkley) and this house is comfortable treading into what many readers would call erotic romance.  Make no mistake, there is still a lengthy, amazing story here, but the sex scenes don’t shy away from language and occasionally go beyond just different positions.  This doesn’t bother me at all (I love how comfortable the characters are with their sexuality, actually) but for a reader expecting the standard romance euphemisms might need a cold ice tea and a fan!

While she’s written in a variety of subgenres, Jaci has stated she always comes back to contemporary romance because it’s what she most enjoys.

“Writing is my full time career and something I love so much I can’t imagine a day that isn’t filled with hot, sexy heroes who save the day, strong, capable heroines who don’t need a man to save them, and the happily ever afters in every book.” (from Jaci Burton’s website)

I for one, am extremely glad that Jaci Burton listened to her husband and began writing romance novels as she is a talent that anyone can enjoy.  Her fourth book in the Play-by-Play series will focus on Riley cousin, Cole (also a professional football player) with a fifth book planned starring his sister Alicia.  The teaser at the end of Taking a Shot was fantastic and I cannot wait to see bad boy Cole get an image makeover courtesy of the beautiful but cool Savannah.  Their book, Playing to Win, will be available September 2012.  You can bet your boots I’ll have this one pre-ordered as soon as I can.

Jaci has an active Twitter presence and publishes her blog not just on her website, but also to her Goodreads account, so if you are on there, you really should become a fan or friend her to keep up with the latest news.  If you are looking to keep all her characters and details in place, you might want to take a look at the page on her website which details the series list of characters, etc.  It’s helpful if it’s been a while since you’ve read one of the previous books and you need a quick refresher.

Can someone please hit the blaring siren for Jaci Burton?  She has scored yet another goal with her latest novel, Taking a Shot.

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