Wednesday, March 17, 2010

All Grisham on Kindle + Worldreader.Org + New Cookbooks. UPDATE

TechFlash's Eric Engleman reports that John Grisham, a vocal skeptic of e-books, apparently changed his mind, as 23 of his backlist titles -- from The Firm to Ford Country -- will now be available in digital form.  Prices for Grisham's backlist books will be between $5.99 and $9.99.  His publisher, Random House, is the one from the Big 6 that decided not to insist on higher pricing for NY Times bestseller e-books.  (Too bad that they also tend to disable text-to-speech on their books, requiring vision-impaired customers to jump through hoops to maybe get their Kindle books enabled for text-to-speech.)

USA Today's Ed Baig writes that Random House announced that 'all' Grisham's books are in e-book format now and that while Amazon is selling the Kindle ediitons of The Associate and Ford Country at $9.99, most older titles go for $7.99 and a few are priced lower than that.

  Also, Baig noted that "On most titles, Barnes & Noble and Sony are charging more than Amazon."

has announced that it is "conducting the developing world's first-ever e-reader test beginning March 15, 2010, at OrphanAid Africa's District Assembly School in the village of Ayenyah, Ghana."

In response to a few questions I had about the practicality of the program (questions asked when states (including California) have pondered the use of Kindles in elementary and middle-schools here, Zev Lowe wrote back on behalf of the organization:
' Our goal is to use e-readers to reduce the cost and complexity of delivering reading materials to places that don't currently have access to a wide variety of books (unlike California, where conventional books are easily available).

We share your awareness of the many challenges this entails -- in fact, we are currently running trials in Ghana to figure out answers to many of these questions. If we don't give it a try, then we will always continue to wonder if those challenges could be overcome, without ever finding solutions.

Right now we're looking for people to join us in imagining what it might be like for a child who might previously only ever have seen 5 books, to get access to hundreds, even a thousand, in the palm of his or her hand. What if you previously had to rely on a once-a-month visit from a bus containing a mobile library, with a sparse collection of out-of-date books, and now you have more books to choose from. '
They've been hard at work on this.  Amazon has donated a number of Kindle e-readers to allow Worldreader to begin its trials in Barcelona Spain, and Accra, Ghana, with the goal of helping the organization to achieve its mission of bringing books to families everywhere.

The Benjamin Franklin International School, which Worldreader describes as Barcelona, Spain’s pre-eminent International Primary and Secondary school, is serving as a test-bed for’s first e-reader trials.

Rassak Experience, a digital brand builder with offices in San Francisco and Barcelona, is "helping design the current digital presence and the roadmap for engaging the multicultural Worldreader community."

OrphanAid Africa's goal, Worldreader writes, is to ensure that children grow up in safe and permanent family settings with appropriate care and protection.  Their District Assembly School Ayenyah will be the second test-bed for’s e-reader trials.'s Brian Osborne has a story on this, I see.  He reports that one of’s co-founders is David Risher who was a previous vice president of product and platform development for
  Osburne describes what Worldreader is trying to do (and it hopes to enlist more partners and company donations) and gives his opinion of the program's goals:
' I like’s method of distribution.  Don’t just give the devices away, make them affordable.  That way local governments have a stake in the success of any program.  It also prevents the local government from continuing to rely on handouts for sustainability.  Instead, as the market make e-readers more affordable communities will be in a better position to continue their use.  Until that time, hopes to help bridge that gap.

You can’t argue with the choice of the Kindle for the organization’s primary e-reader.  The biggest advantage to the device is its global wireless support which makes downloading new e-books easy. It also has quite a large selection of ebooks currently... '
UPDATE 11:25 AM - After I wrote the above, I found out that WIRED's Charlie Sorrel did a terrific piece on Worldreader.  Here's their first paragraph:
' The iPad may be gripping the moneyed world in a fever of technolust, but the other e-reader, the Kindle, is still better at many things. Take Ghana, West Africa, for example. If you are a school in a small village with satellite internet and solar power, what device would be best for you? The power-sucking, data-heavy iPad, or the Kindle, a reader that can be read in sunlight, has free internet access and lasts for weeks on a single charge? '
They go on with really interesting detail on exactly what is being done and how the first day went with the class.  Again, that's here.

The subscription cost is $9.49 per month or 75 cents per issue.  For the usual 14-day free trial, go to Amazon's subscription page.

Amazon announced today that the Kindle Store recently added many new quality books for cooks, including three new cookbooks, Amazon says, that are available today in the Kindle Store: Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition, Rose Levy Berenbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes and Nancy Baggett's Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads (though the latter is not actually new - maybe they listed it as it's a popular book).  Amazon lists other books that are popular, which can be found under its Bestsellers in Cooking, Food & Wine.

In the PR piece, Amazon's Russ Grandinetti, VP, Kindle Content, adds that
' Customers tell us they love to cook from recipes on their Kindles... Kindle for iPhone or Kindle for BlackBerry is a great way to keep ingredients lists with you when you go to the grocery store, and then pick up right at that recipe on your Kindle when you're ready to cook.  In the kitchen, Kindle doesn't have pages that may close while you're trying to reference a recipe. '
While that suggestion is of course expected in a press release, Kindle owners at the Amazon Kindle forums have said the same in message threads, the main one being "The Most Unusual/Unique Thing You Use Your Kindle For." Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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