Apple does audiobooks: Great First Listens for free

Audiobook lovers, Apple Books wants you! This week, they are offering up a collection of six free audiobooks called Great First Listens. The books are all classics in the public domain and all have celebrity narrators

The six titles are: .

I have to confess that I downloaded all of these! While I enjoy audiobooks in general, I particularly love hearing beloved classics turned into audiobooks. Language constantly grows and evolves and many of the books we consider classics have a much more formal feel than today’s writing styles offer. I think classics thrive as audiobooks because the narration tends to make the stories even more accessible to the modern listener.

Any of these strike your fancy?

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A refreshing opinion piece from someone who actually prefers ebooks

Yesterday, I ran across an interesting article praising ebooks over print. I found it absolutely refreshing. Here is someone unabashedly coming out and saying that they think that ebooks are vastly superior to their print counterparts.

When I first started this blog in 2011, it seemed like every other article I read was talking about how bad ebooks were and emphasizing the many ways that print books had the advantages. Most of the pieces I read made the same points over and over: “Real books” smelled better and felt better to the touch. Paper books didn’t need a battery, a charger, or a WiFi connection. You could share them, lend and even donate or sell them when you were done.As time went on, these types of articles started adding references to studies and statistics that pointed out that you remembered more of what you read on a print book or that teenagers didn’t like to read books in digital form.

Now, almost eight years later, I still see these articles. At least once or twice a month, I find one of these article coming up on a blog or I read or on one of the internet alerts I have set up for articles  on ebooks. Any more, most of the posts are opinion pieces, many from smaller, local papers. But the tone nowadays is almost nostalgic. The print book is an artifact, symbolizing the struggle against the technology that threatens to overwhelm our lives and offering a respite from the endless array of screens we are surrounded by daily.

Back in 2011, the publishing industry really feared that ebooks would take over the publishing industry. We have now seen that that’s not happening. People are still going to bookstores, still buying print books. Many people buy both: ebooks for casual reading and paper for books they want to keep. Or perhaps they buy fiction in digital, non-fiction in paper.

Maybe now that publishers have raised the prices of ebooks enough to seriously slow down their growth, the industry is no longer quite as worried about the effect of ebooks on the publishing economy, After all, audiobooks are the publishing industry’s new darling, with digital audiobooks sales way, way up. And since in most cases, the publishers firmly control the audio rights along with the print rights, maybe they are not worried about audio disrupting their profits.

Or maybe, there’s just one guy out there who, like me, is saying please don’t buy me any print books for Christmas. I’d rather read ebooks.

What about you? Are you E or P?

Returning customers eligible for $6.95/3 month Audible deal

Audible is currently running a holiday promotion for new customers offering 3 months of Audible for $6.95 per month  (instead of the usual $14.95). That 53% off the regular price for first three months of the membership. The good news is that former Audible members who don’t have active memberships are also eligible for the promotion. 🙂

In order to take advantage of this special pricing, you must have an existing and active Amazon Account. Amazon defines this as having spent at least $1 in transactions in the 6 months prior to redemption of the offer.

The offer includes:

  • 3 titles each month: 1 audiobook and 2 Audible Originals.
  • The ability to roll over any unused credits for up to 4 months.
  • Easy exchanges. Don’t like your audiobook? Swap it for free.
  • Cancel anytime, your audiobooks are yours to keep forever.

Membership to Audible includes discounted prices for additional audiobooks and access to special sales and members-only audiobook deals.

There is an audible app available for Apple, Android, Amazon and Windows devices. You can also have Alexa play your audiobook on Echo devices.

The fine print:

A paid membership renew monthly at $14.95 (after the promotional period expires), unless you cancel. The Gold plan gives you one credit each month, which you can use on any audiobook regardless of length or price. You can roll over any unused credits for up to four months. Offer limited to one per customer and account and may not be combined with other offers

This offer is available until December 31, 2018

I’d been thinking about re-joining Audible, so at this price, I definitely took advantage of the deal. What do you think?

An amazing price for this Paperwhite Audible Bundle for audiobook lovers

Amazon is offering a special bundle just for audiobook lovers! The special Audible bundle includes a Kindle Paperwhite (8GB, Wifi, Special Offers), over ear wireless bluetooth stereo headphones, and a 3 month free trial of Audible, all for just $139. (The 32GB model bundle is also available.)

It is the headphones by POP Design that make this bundled price such a great deal. These are lightweight (185 grams), boast a 16 hour battery life and have a recharge time of 2 to 3 hours. There are built in features for Kindle Audible and Audible Audiobooks App controls,  as well as the standard music and calling features. An audio cable for a wired connection is also included. So far, the headphones are getting five star reviews on Amazon.

Amazon sells the headphones with a case separately for $79.99. Since the Paperwhite alone is regularly $129.99, when you add in the 3 month Audible subscription (normally $14.95 per month with a 30 day free trial), this bundle offers significant savings, especially if you are planning on using the device for audiobooks.

The fine print regarding the Audible subscription:

Redemption instructions will be sent via email after your order ships. No obligation to redeem. After 3 mos., subscription will auto-renew for $14.95/mo.

Amazon lists this bundle as a $255 value. The deal is available until Dec 22, 2018.

All New Paperwhite ereader on sale for only $99

If you have been on the fence about one of the All-new Kindle Paperwhite ereaders, this might be a good day to decide to pick one up. The 8GB WiFi version of the ereader is on sale today for on $99 and you can get the 32GB version for only $20 more. There is also a WiFi plus cellular version available at discounted pricing.

The All-new Kindle Paperwhite is thinner, features more LEDs, and has more storage than previous generations. It also has a flush bezel and an IPX8 waterproof rating.

This version has also added Audible and Bluetooth capability so the device can be used with Amazon proprietary Whispersync for Voice feature that allows you to switch back and forth between the ebook and Audible versions of a book.

At $30 off, this is the lowest price yet for the newest Paperwhite, with the price lower than those offered on Black Friday. And, it ships in time for Christmas!

Amazon releases new update for FreeTime Oops problem (But it may not work)

Here is another update on the “Oops! Something went wrong with FreeTime” problem. Prior posts on the problem are here and here.

Amazon has released what they say is “a fix for many of the issues that lead to this error.” They are asking customers to  update to the latest version of the FreeTime app (FreeTimeApp-fireos_v3.17_Build-1.0.210214.0.26452).

Per Amazon’s post, here are the instructions for updating:

Please follow these steps:

  • Confirm that your device is connected to a wireless network.
    • Connected devices have a Wi-Fi or 4G LTE icon with signal bars near the battery indicator.
  • Sync your device.
    • Swipe down from the top of the screen to open the quick actions menu and then tap the Settings (gear) icon. Tap Sync Device. Large files may take time to download.

If you want to ensure FreeTime updated to FreeTimeApp-fireos_v3.17_Build-1.0.210214.0.26452, go to:

Fire OS 5 Tablets (4th – 7th Generations):

  1. Settings > Apps & Games > Manage All Applications.
  2. Find the Downloaded tab (yellow bar), then swipe the entire screen to the right (see All tap).
  3. Scroll down until you find the FreeTime app. All apps are in alphabetical order.

Fire OS6 – Fire HD 8 – 8th Generation:

  1. Settings > Apps & Notifications > Manage All Applications.
  2. Scroll down to FreeTime app.

Amazon added several troubleshooting tips, according to the post on the Kindle device forums:

If the issue continues after updating,please follow the below troubleshooting steps:

  1. Reboot/restart the impacted Fire Tablet, then check if the issue is resolved.
  2. If the issues persists after a reboot, clear the application data for FreeTime.

Please note: Clearing the application data may delete customers content on customer’s FreeTime profiles.

Be aware that this fix may not work for all customers and additional improvement will be released in the next few weeks. [Emphasis added]

One person already posted on the forum that the update did not work for them.

The frustration level on this issue seems to be off the charts. Tech issues are aggravating enough, but the primary users of FreeTime are small children, who neither have the skills or the patience to deal with the issues. As a parent, seeing my kids repeatedly upset by this would make me extremely angry. Amazon needs to come up with a working fix for this, ASAP.

UPDATE: Oops! Something went wrong with FreeTime

Someone from Amazon posted an update on the Amazon Device forum on Monday to the “Oops! Something went wrong” error message problem for FreeTime. Note that this is NOT a permanent fix, but is meant to allow people to use their tablets while Amazon is working on the fix.

First Measure: Device Reboot

  1. Press and hold the power button for 15 seconds
  2. Turn back on the device

Second Measure: Clearing FreeTime App Data

  1. Switch to adult profile on the tablet

  2. Tap on the Settings icon

  3. Tap on Apps & Games row

  4. Tap on Manage All Applications

  5. Swipe right to see all applications (ALL will be underlined in orange)

  6. Scroll down and select FreeTime

  7. Tap CLEAR CACHE

  8. Tap MANAGE SPACE

  9. Tap OK on the Are you sure you want to clear data from Amazon FreeTime popup window that appears

More to come on this story!