Category Archives: eBooks

Pope Joan eBook Deal on BookBub

Today, one of BookBub’s $1.99 Kindle deals is Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross.  These deals are usually only available for a limited time, often only a day.

I read this book several years ago, and found it quite interesting and enjoyable.  It has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon out of 596 reviews.

This story is based on an actual theory that one of the popes in the ninth century was a woman.  Joan was a very intelligent girl who disguised herself as her brother when he died and eventual goes to Rome where she becomes pope.  Whether the story is true or not, it is very well written and a great story about life in the ninth century.

BookBub is a site that sends an email listing several free eBooks and eBook deals each day.  It’s a great way to hear about the daily eBook specials!

The Winter That Almost Wasn’t eBook

This past winter my daughter and I published our new picture book, “The Winter That Almost Wasn’t” as a Kindle ebook!  It’s currently $.99 on Amazon.  As the weather warms up, a winter story may be the perfect way to cool off!

Inline image 3

Making snowmen, sledding, snow angels, and so much more!
Sally, Mia and Ben can’t wait for snow, so they’ll try all the ways they can think of to make it snow.
“Sleep on a spoon
and we’ll have snow soon!”
How many snow making ideas do you know?

I wrote the story a couple of years ago at the end of a disappointing Maryland winter.  My kids had wished for a good snow all through the winter.  Just like the three kids in the story, they kept trying all the different ways they know to make it snow.

After hearing the story, my then 12 year old daughter offered to illustrate it for me, and we enjoyed working on this project together.

We hope you’ll read The Winter That Almost Wasn’t Kindle ebook and leave a review!  Thank you!

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get a free ebook reader for PCs and most mobile devices on Amazon.

E-Book Pricing

This post was originally on my previous blog September 2013. and the big publishers may never see this post, but I feel compelled to speak my mind nonetheless.

In case you haven’t heard about the ebook pricing battle between Amazon and the big six publishers, basically Steve Jobs of Apple and the big six publishers forced Amazon to stop offering ebooks at deeply discounted prices.  The US Justice Dept. began an investigation in 12/2011 to determine whether this constituted collusion to fix prices.

As a result of the efforts of the big six publishers, Amazon has no control over the pricing of ebooks from the big publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, Random House, and Simon & Schuster.  Instead, these publishers dictate to Amazon what the ebook prices will be.

As a consumer, I certainly would love to be able to get really cheap ebook copies of the top selling novels.  However, I can also appreciate that publishers spend a lot of money to cultivate new authors, edit their writing and promote their books.  Publishers say that they have the best chance of making back the money invested in a book through the hardback book sales.

So just as we all learned to get along with others in Kindergarten, ebook pricing also comes down to a simple matter of compromise between Amazon and the publishers.

My proposal is that during an agreed upon initial hardback sales period of about three to six months, Amazon could discount the ebook version of a book no more than 40% off the print list price.  That would mean that a book selling for $25 in hardback would sell for $15 in ebook.  This pricing would prevent the ebook from being priced so low that it’s sales cut into the hardback sales, and yet prices ebook version at an amount that takes into consideration it’s lower cost to manufacture and distribute.  Three to six months is typically the time period during which the book has the longest wait time for availability at the public library, so making the ebook available at a moderate discount also increases the book sales in this format at a time when it’s difficult to acquire through the library.

After the initial sale period, Amazon and other resellers could discount ebooks without limitation.  The $9.99 Boycott indicates that many ebook readers feel that $9.99 or less is an appropriate ebook price and this point in a book’s life would be a good time for that price.

This arrangement actually has an advantage to publishers in that it allows resellers to price ebooks competitively with used books and paperback copies and thereby increase book sales.  Ebooks are much less expensive to produce and distribute than print copies and therefore, have the potential to generate a higher profit per sale.

In the case of used book sales, publishers make nothing each time a used book is sold.  However a publisher makes money every time that an ebook is sold since it cannot currently be sold secondhand, so competitive pricing of ebooks in the later phase of sales actually benefits publishers.

An ebook should continue to be discounted throughout it’s life approximately a dollar a year.  Once it has been out five to ten years, the ebook should be priced at $5 or less.  This pricing allows an older ebook to be competitive with the pricing of the used print copies.

For more information on Kindles and ebook pricing, see my Kindle Notes page.

Howard County Library Hidden Features

This post was originally on my previous blog July 2012.

I am a big fan of our local library in Howard County, Maryland!  I love being able to get free books, movies, and music!

The Howard County Library has a great web site, but I’ve notice that there are a number of great features that while not exactly hidden, are not known by many other library patrons.  Even if you’re not a Howard County resident, your local library may have these features, or you can request them.

Get Almost Any Book!

The Howard County Library has a lot of great books, but they don’t have everything, of course.  If you’re looking for a particular book the obvious first step is to search the library catalog.  You can do this from home at, or from the library.

If you don’t find the book in the catalog, the next step is to search Marina.  Marina is a searchable network of Maryland libraries.  To access Marina, go to the Howard County Library home page and click the “How do I…” pull down. Then select “Use interlibrary loan.”  This screen includes information and instructions for Marina.  You’ll just need a Maryland library card number for a Marina request, and there is no charge.

If the book is not found through a Marina search, the next step is the last link on that page, “Request form for academic or out-of-state libraries.”  Sometimes this is just called ILS for Interlibrary Loan. There is a $1 fee for this interlibrary loan request if they find your item.

Request an Addition to the Collection

There is a form on the library web site under the Contact Us link (top right corner of the page) that patrons can use to request that the county library purchase items not already in the catalog.  From the Contact Us Page, click the “Suggest” link under “Make a purchase suggestion.”  Then find the item in, and copy and paste the ISBN, publisher and date published from there to the library form.

Another great option with this feature is that you can specify on the form that you would like to be placed on the wait list for this item if they decide to purchase it.

Suspend a Hold Request

I love being able to search for books, movies and CDs from my home computer and place a request so that they’re waiting for me the next time I go to the library.  With young children it’s been especially nice to be able to do this as opposed to hunting around the library for items while dragging a small child.  Then we can focus our library time on finding children’s books and pick up mine at the circulation desk!

An extra feature available for holds is Suspended or Inactive Hold Requests.  When you place a hold request, you can specify a future date that you want the hold activated instead of today’s date.  This is great for placing holds on my future book club books or scheduling my book holds so that my reading materials are spaced out conveniently.  The best part about this feature is that you continue to move up the hold queue while the hold is suspended, then when it is reactivated, you are at the top of the list or at least closer to the top of the list.

If you have already put a book on hold you can also go to the Hold Requests page of the Howard County Web Site and suspend a currently active hold.  Just check the box next to the item(s) that you want to suspend, then click the Suspend/Reactivate Selected button. Enter the date on which you want the hold reactivated.  I suggest setting the reactivate date for about 5 days before you need the book to allow time for the library to get it to your branch.

If you want to reactivate a suspended hold before the reactivation date you specified, you can just repeat the above steps and specify today’s date.

Free eBook and Downloadable Audiobook Loans Via Overdrive!

Most Maryland public library patrons can borrow ebooks through their library’s Overdrive subscription.  (I was told that the following information applies to all Maryland public libraries with the exception of Prince Georges County which has a separate subscription to Overdrive.)

To access the Overdrive site from the Howard County Library site, click the “How do I…” pull down and select “Find an e-book.”  This brings up the Electronic Books and Audiobooks page.  This page includes the link to the Overdrive database site, instructions for downloading ebooks to various ebook readers, and information about scheduling One-on-One Sessions to learn about borrowing ebooks from Overdrive.  I highly recommend the One-on-One Session.  I attended a class version of the session and even though I already knew a lot about Overdrive and ebook readers and picked up some interesting information.

When you’re ready to search the Overdrive database for ebooks or audiobooks, click the “Maryland’s Digital eLibrary Consortium (OverDrive)” link.  The Maryland Digital eLibrary Consortium is a group Overdrive subscription for most of the Maryland public libraries (except Prince Georges County as I was told.)

Overdrive allows you to check out 4 items at a time.  For each item, you can select a checkout period of 7, 14 or 21 days.  Kindle ebooks may be returned early through the Manage My Kindle page on (though if you return too many items early in a short time they will freeze your Overdrive account for copyright issues).  You may also place a hold on 4 items at a time on Overdrive.  I plan my holds so that I have 1-2 long term holds (long hold lists) and 1-2 short term holds (short hold lists), so that I have something to read while waiting for the longer hold list items.

Following are a couple of the tips that I learned at the “Are You EReady?” class at the library:

  • The advantage symbol OverDrive Advantage titlenext to some books means that my county library has purchased extra copies of that item for just the patrons in that county.  So if you place that item on your Hold List, you may receive it earlier that it would appear based on the number of people on the hold list.
  • It is recommended that you search the Overdrive site through the link above as opposed to searching the Howard County Library catalog web site for electronic materials.  The county library catalog is not updated very often, whereas the Overdrive site is always current.

For additional information about Kindles and other eReader devices, please see my page linked from

What is your favorite feature of the library?  Were any of these features new to you?

Happy Reading! 🙂