New eBook Deals at Amazon

This week, Amazon launched two new programs that offer Kindle eBooks at a discount. They’re available to all Amazon users — not just Kindle owners.

Kindle First

Kindle First offers four select books each month that are due to be released in the following month. Readers can then purchase one of the four books, giving them early access to it. You also get to keep the book permanently. The books are free for Prime members and $1.99 for non-Prime members.

Kindle First

Kindle Countdown Deals

Amazon already has Daily Deals and Monthly Deals for Kindle books and its new Countdown Deals offers another time-sensitive way of getting deals on eBooks. Authors and publishers can set promotional deals on their books to last anywhere from hours to days. A notification on the book’s product page lets the buyer know how much time is left on the countdown deal.

Kindle Countdown Deals

Unolingo

Unfinished Unolingo Puzzle
Unfinished Unolingo Puzzle

Yesterday, Amazon’s free app of the day was a word puzzle called Unolingo. It’s a cross between Sudoku and word games like Scrabble and crossword puzzles. I play Sudoku daily on an app called Enjoy Sudoku and I love word puzzles, so I definitely wanted to give Unolingo a try.

The game is pretty self-explanatory; you can jump right in to playing without reading instructions. You get to choose your difficulty level and are then given a 10 by 10 crossword grid made up of letters and 26 empty spaces. There are no clues. You just have to place each letter of the alphabet into the puzzle once to form words.

I like how quickly I was able to start playing. The puzzles are challenging, but it seems like they can generally be completed within 5-10 minutes, so it’s perfect for when you want some quick entertainment. My only complaint was that it prompts you to post your score on Facebook after every puzzle completion, but you can turn that off in the game settings.

A Game of Thrones

A Game of ThronesToday, I finished reading A Game of Thrones, the first book in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I first heard about A Game of Thrones last year, when my mom mentioned that a coworker of hers had really enjoyed it. Fantasy is my favorite reading genre, so I made a mental note to look into the book later. Over the next few weeks or so, though, it seemed as though I was hearing about A Game of Thrones everywhere (probably largely due to the HBO TV series, which premiered in April 2011). After hearing so much praise for the book (and the TV series), I decided I had to read it… so in January, I began to read the 807-page novel.

It wasn’t long before I was hooked. At first, I was overwhelmed by the number of characters. I started to sketch out a tree to keep track of all of the characters, their titles and nicknames, and their relationships with each other… and then I discovered the appendix, which already contained that information. Whoops! 😛 Each chapter is written from the point of view of one of the eight main characters and I really enjoyed how the story bounced back and forth between their perspectives.

Excited to watch the TV series, I checked Netflix this weekend and was disappointed to see that it wasn’t available. I tried Hulu, but it just directed me to HBO’s website. The episodes were available on HBO’s site, but only for certain HBO cable subscribers. Ugh. So I tried Amazon.com next, hoping that the episodes would be available in Amazon’s Instant Video store. Nope. Hmph. I gave up and figured I’d just get it on Blu-Ray and wait for it to come in the mail… but I couldn’t even do that! It’s not going to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray until March 6. NOOOO! And then, yesterday, The Oatmeal released a new comic, I tried to watch Game of Thrones and this is what happened, that expressed the very same frustration I had this weekend. At the end of the comic, he ended up torrenting the season because he couldn’t watch it through any legitimate methods.

With all of the technology available at our fingertips, I think it’s time for publishing companies to get on board and realize that people want to do the right thing, but making it a hassle for them to do so is just turning them to piracy. :/