Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It's star-studded.  It splashes across the good, the bad, and the questionable.  It's free as the air.  And it's easy to browse on your iPad—with the help of Planet iPad.

It's the list of new free books in Amazon's Kindle Book Store. If you think “because it's free, it must not be good,” forget it. Most of the 9 new additions today have shot toward the top of all free Amazon ebooks.

Before looking at the latest offerings, let's consider what the Free List has become. In short, it's a marketing laboratory for traditional publishers and a “shot at my dream” playground for new authors.

The Amazon free book list has hosted the likes of many of bestselling household-name authors like James Patterson. He likes to tease with free excerpts or by handing out backlisted books to promote upcoming offerings. Then he drives many ebook lovers nuts with prices running from $12.99 to $14.99, as he did with Postcard Killers.

Patterson and his publicists, like many of the teams behind bestsellers, are exploring the marketing opportunities ebook technology allows.  The Patterson machine, in particular, seems determined to discover the fine line for “the price the market will bear” and “how fast can we get readers' money?” Patterson is already selling Kill Me If You Can for a current list ebook price of $14.99. It's astounding, but the book can be bought by pre-order, but won't deliver until next August! 
At the other end of the “freemium” spectrum is maverick author J.A. Konrath.  He cast 75% of his latest book, Shaken,   to the winds of publishing fortune last month in a daring serial giveaway. Konrath, Amazon, Planet iPad and sister blog Kindle Nation Daily collaborated in the serial release, making publishing history.

It takes chutzpah and guts to bare your book three-quarters naked in a giveaway to readers, then ask them for $2.99 to see the ending. That gamble has paid off, so far, shooting Shaken up the Amazon Paid Bestseller List. A month after the razzle-dazzle. it sits at No. 27 in mysteries and thrillers and a stratospheric No. 43 in all paid Amazon books (out of over 720,000).

Or you might discover an unknown (to you) writer you love, like James R. Benn and his delightful World War II detective Billy Boyle.  Benn gave away a Billy Boyle:  A World War II Mystery to introduce the reading world to Billy.  The Second Lieutenant was so well-liked readers “promoted” him to 4-star heights (by 51 reviewers) on his way from $0.00 to $9.99, the current price.

Most of newest books just added have already latched onto the top of the Kindle Store Free Ebook list. Headlining the group today has to be Randy Alcorn's Safely Home, which is encrusted with stars awarded by 141 5-Star reviewers and seven 4-Star reviewers.

Alcorn lists 19 ebooks in the Kindle Store and has sold 3.5 million copies. At the moment on Amazon's volatile bestseller lists, Safely Home sits at No. 5 in the free store and No. 1 in “Religious Fiction.”

From the book's Amazon page: “Fans of Randy Alcorn will applaud this soul-stirring story of two college friends who reconnect after twenty years. One is living life apart from God in comfortable corporate America while the other is living for Christ under intense persecution in China. This stunning page-turner will convict the hearts of readers to live in the light of eternity. Royalties from sales of this book will be donated to support the persecuted Church.”

And Library Journal says: “Alcorn (Lord Foulgrin's Letters) lifts readers high with joy and casts them down in immeasurable sorrow as Ben and Li's story unfolds with intense emotional impact.”

In further grazing the list of free books just posted, we find:

Get Some, Daniel Birch, a “gangster revenge thriller”

Whirl of the Wheel, by Catherine Condie. 
From its Amazon page:  Three children whirl back in time through an enchanted potter’s wheel into the reality of evacuation in 1940s Britain . . . Whirl of the Wheel pulls feisty Connie, her brother Charlie-Mouse, and school pest Malcolm into dangers on the homefront and towards a military operations secret that will save their home. The children hit trouble when Malcolm fails to return to the present day. This fast-moving adventure will keep you guessing . . .
Almost Heaven, Chris Fabry, 40 reviews averaging 4.5 stars. This tale of Billy Allman, hillbilly genius, “will surprise readers in the best possible way,” says Publishers' Weekly.

The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, Mark Mittelberg lists and discusses the Top 10 Troubling issues believers struggle to understand and explain.

Avimpartha (The Riyria Revelations), Michael J. Sullivan.  42 reviewers gave this Epic Fantasy (No. 1 on that list)  4.5 stars on average. It's riding high at No. 12 in the free ebook list overall.

The Gift of Fury, Richard Jackson, No. 1 in "Horror/Occult" and No. 10 of all free Kindle books

Enemies and Playmates, Darcia Helle, 4.5 stars, 16 reviewers and now No. 1 in the free store, and tops in "Contemporary Fiction." 

From the book's Amazon page: “When the abused decide to fight back, the abuser's world might just shatter.  Lauren Covington's family maintains a grand facade that belies the life they live behind closed doors. Alex Covington, Lauren's father, keeps a tight rein on his family through dominance, abuse, and obsessive control. Consequently, Lauren doesn't believe she could ever trust a man, much less fall in love with one.

When Lauren meets Jesse Ryder, her carefully constructed protective wall shatters. She falls hopelessly and completely in love. It's only fitting that Jesse is a private detective who had once worked for her father, had defied him, and was now the subject of Alex Covington's wrath.

Boob Tube, Mark Coker, and Lesleyann Coker; she was a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly and gives a behind the scenes look inside the daytime TV soap opera world in a novel based on fact.

From the book's Amazon page: Go behind the scenes of the daytime television soap opera industry with Boob Tube. Written by Lesleyann Coker (a former reporter for Soap Opera Weekly) and her husband Mark, the two interviewed dozens of soap opera industry insiders for their stories and then fictionalized everything here.

The story: Actress Gina Martin lands a role on a top daytime television soap opera, and days later her predecessor is found dead in the Hollywood hills. Will Gina be next? Boob Tube offers readers a fast-paced read filled with intrigue and humor, and a surprise ending that will leave you breathless.

If you enjoy good books, like to meet new authors, explore new subject matter, “try before you buy,” or just plain old get free, good quality reading, the Amazon free book list is your good friend.

Your next best friend as an iPad owner is Planet iPad. We're making it even easier for you have a fast “touch and go” look at the opening chapter of books from the free list—without investing half a day clicking all around Amazon. 

How to do it on your iPad:  Flick down the Free Book Alert page for the day.  THEN CAREFULLY tap the little green icon with white book:

CAREFULTapping the cover shows you only the cover photo, bigger.  Tapping the title takes you to the book's Amazon page.  NOTE:  Precede the tap with a "reverse pinch" to expand or zoom in on the reading icon--white book on green background.


Close the tool (the X in lower left, above) to be able to open the next book.
ALSO you may need to scroll up the screen once you tap on an item. 

And come back tomorrow.  There'll be a new batch of free books added to Amazon.  Planet iPad will guide you to them, and show them to you just as we did today.

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