Kindle Christmas ideas – what books to buy?

Kindle, Amazon’s e-book reader, which resembles an oversized third-generation iPod Nano, is now available for customers outside the US. This is really good news for Australians, who seem to pay more for their books than any other nationality, thanks largely to restrictions on parallel importation. The Productivitiy Commission reports that we pay 27 percent more, on average, than US consumers for the exact same book and in the UK, de-restriction of book distribution and sales means you can pick up a current bestseller in a regular supermarket for less than 10 bucks. So all hail the International Kindle!

Aside from the convenience of being able to store 1,500 books in one, slim unit that is as light as a regular paperback book, the great promise with the International Kindle is the access to over 280,000 books in electronic form. Right now, whether that number is accurate or not, however, the promise doesn’t entirely ring true, as Amazon negotiates copyright issues on a ‘per country’ basis and, surprise surprise, Australian negotiations are lagging behind.

The upshot is that, if you’re a fan of the classics like Dickens and Austen, or love reading up-and-coming new authors, you’ll have no problem getting content – often free content at that. But if you read only the latest bestsellers, availability isn’t quite as impressive. That said, I’m reading Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol on my International Kindle right now, sourced from outside Amazon’s site.

But there are thousands of amazing texts available right now in Amazon’s proprietary ‘.azw’ format, as well as ‘.mobi’ and ‘.prc’ form, which Kindle can deal with, and book availability will only increase for Australian Kindle owners with time. So, let’s point you to some of the Noel-themed books you can enjoy on Kindle right now if you’re lucky enough to get one for Christmas.

First off, how can you go past the quintessential Christmas story of Scrooge? Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is available for sale right now in a Kindle Edition for Aussie owners, at only $2.00 from Amazon – or, as with most classics, free elsewhere on the Internet, albeit not in the Kindle-specific format. Check out the ‘mobipocket’ titles at Project Guttenberg, an online repository of over 30,000 free books in digital form. Another classic in a warmer vein is Gift of the Magi, by Henry O, sporting illustrations as well as the story of love and sacrifice and ready to be beamed for free to your Kindle. Or, instead of buying these stories in singles, why not go for the Christmas! 12 Holiday Classics (Kindle Edition), which includes the story of Scrooge and Gift of the Magi along with a collection of other stories of adventure and mystery, all with the Christmas theme. For an even older but classic view on Christmas, how about Robert Louis Stevenson’s 19th century A Christmas Sermon for Kindle?

If you’re looking to share the spirit with your kids, there are even Kindle versions of kids’ books. One example is the Big Book of Classic Christmas Tales that brings together 35 of the greats for children, or My First Story of Christmas by Tim Dowley, which is aimed at teaching the traditional bible story to 4-7 year olds, also complete with illustrations.

There are Christmas books for the more investigative, such as The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger by journalist Lee Strobel, attempting to find the reality behind the story of Christmas, or even the non-believer, including The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, written by UK comedian Ariane Sherine and bringing together a bunch of well-known heathens such as Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox and columnist Charlie Brooker All royalties on that last book go to the Terrence Higgins Trust, so you’re buying a Kindle book for Christmas and contributing to a worthy charity at the same time.

Finally, there are hundreds of books on the subject of miracles, an appropriate topic for your Kindle at Christmas, from the devoutly spiritual to the more scientific or sceptical, with something like The Physics of Miracles: Tapping in to the Field of Consciousness Potential by Richard Bartlett somewhere in the middle, with his mental empowerment teachings.