A couple of weeks ago, I talked about electronic versions of books and the fact that these were becoming more and more popular.
The ink was hardly dry on that column when giant Internet retailer Amazon announced that its sales of electronic books had overtaken the number of hardback books sold. It said that it was selling 143 electronic books for every hundred hardbacks which, is a pretty substantial milestone.
The company is the producer of the Kindle e-book reader which is one of the leading units available and this seems set to continue with the announcement that the prices have been cut to $189 for the unit with 3G and WiFi and $139 for WiFi-only ones.
The launch of the new Kindles seems to have been spectacularly successful because the company ran out of stock almost immediately, and is currently only allowing you pre-order units. I made the mistake of going to the Amazon site recently and, while there, had a look at the product page.
The new versions of the Kindle have many improvements incorporated into them including improved screens, a battery life of up to a month and storage capacity for up to 3500 books. Weighing just less than 250g and being less than 8mm thick, they sound as if they would be ideal for catching up on your reading wherever you happened to be.
The huge amount of content available includes more than 500,000 books for sale, triple that number of free titles, and a selection of magazines and newspapers. You add content to your unit by connecting to Amazon by 3G network or WiFi and selecting the material you want.
In addition, you can also load your own documents and PDF files onto your Kindle either through Amazon or by plugging it into your computer with a USB cable. Material you’ve bought is stored not only on the machine itself but, in case it is ever lost, on the Amazon website as well, where you can also access it from many different kinds of mobile phone or desktop computers.
When browsing through the available content, I noticed that the magazines on offer include Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazines. I have always been a great fan of short crime stories and have read these two magazines in hard copy format whenever I could get my hands on them.
I never got round to subscribing because of the high costs of postage but, having been reminded of their existence, I popped along to the Mystery Place (themysteryplace.com) website and made the very pleasant discovery that they now both have a free monthly audio podcast in which crime writers read a story from the archives of the respective magazines.
The podcasts are available via RSS feed or from the iTunes Store and I wasted no time in firing up my iTunes software and subscribing to them. At the time of writing, there were 11 episodes each of the two podcasts available for download and I predict that I’m going to be spending quite a lot of time listening to those over the next few weeks.