The Amazon Kindle makes a great e-reader and many people tried to be good all year long so Santa would leave one under the tree. After unwrapping it and powering it on for the first time, whats next? The Amazon ecosystem is fairly extensive. Visiting the online bookstore will have a number of terms that may not make sense, Kindle Worlds, Kindle Singles and Unlimited. What does it all mean and what things should you be most concerned about?
If you have a new Kindle Paperwhite 2, Kindle Voyage, Kindle Basic Touch or a different model, you are now apart of a great new world of e-reading. Amazon has one of the most extensive and well developed ecosystems in the world, and sometimes its not immediately apparent on what they all mean.
First of all, lets understand a few elements of the UI that you need to know. Most Kindle e-readers have a built in lightning system that can be accessed by hitting the little light bulb. You can scroll up and down to find the ideal illumination settings to suit your needs.
Additionally, you might notice a little G, this is a shortcut to access GoodReads, which is a company Amazon purchased in 2013. On a basic level, it is a book discovery and social community centered around reading. You can participate in online book clubs and add books you are currently reading to your shelf, and share it with friends. Often, like minded souls randomly connect with each other, due to the common literary interests.
Upon visiting the Kindle Store for the first time, there are a few key areas such as Kindle Unlimited, Kindle Worlds, Kindle Singles, Kindle Freetime and Kindle Exclusives. The naming conventions Amazon uses, might confuse some users, lets take a look at what they all mean.
Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, the e-book and audiobook subscription service that lets members pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited access to its catalog, of 700,0000 titles. There is a thirty day free trial and the option to pay $9.99 a month for the service. You will find a few good reads here, including the Hunger Games series and all of the Harry Potter books. Major publishers have not committed themselves yet, so you will find many titles by indie authors.
Amazon launched its Kindle Worlds fan fiction platform just over a year ago, and the concept has been a great success for both the rights holders who license content to the site and the fans who adore the concepts and story lines of their favorite authors. You can think of this as an officially sanctioned service that has properties such as Vampire Diaries and GI JOE.
Launched in January 2011, Amazon.com’s Kindle Singles provides an opportunity for reading customers to find digital titles by established bestselling authors and up-and-coming writers alike that fit a very specific need. With publications whose word counts are limited to between 5,000 words and 30,000 words, Kindle Singles pieces are works that would be considered far too long for magazine space but are too short to be considered a traditional novel. The one thing I like about Singles is their is a extensive editorial process that does not make it easy for just anymore to list their content on it. You can insure that most of the e-Books listed in Singles are very high quality.
Kindle Freetime has been around for awhile, but is entirely new to the Kindle Voyage. It allows parents to buy into a monthly subscription program that allows their kids to download unlimited apps, games, and e-Books. The only thing you can really do on the Voyage though, is just read books. This makes it a really good investment if you own the Fire Phone or one of Amazons Fire tablets, but doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as a standalone service on the Voyage.
Kindle Exclusives feature books that are actually published with by Amazon via one of their imprints. They sign established and up and coming authors, selling the books not only on Amazons websites, but bookstores all over the world. There are only a few hundred books listed in this section, so it should be easy to find something good and they are all affordable. Oh, and they have a fairly cool feature just for Prime members, Read Before Release. It allows you to read the book in full, a few weeks before its due out.
There are a number of cool Amazon tips that you should also be aware of. If you own a model with a touchscreen, you can actually take screenshots. You simply have to put two fingers in opposing corners and the screen will briefly flash. You can also use a 3rd party program called Calibre that will allow you to manually load in books that you download from the internet. The app is available for PC and MAC and also has the ability to convert books from one format to another.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.