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Kindle Fire HD
My daughter gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas. She said she wanted me to have a bigger screen to watch during my workouts at the gym. That was so sweet and thoughtful. She has always been that way.

But, truth be told, the little portable TV that I happened to be using at the time was fine. All I had to do was pull out the antenna for free “air TV” and tune in to watch whatever happened to be playing on the Create Channel for an hour or so.

Getting a Kindle was on my to-do list, but that was scheduled for some vague point down the line, probably when I was closer to actually publishing my own books and would need a way to preview them. But, I’m not there yet, so the sleek new Kindle languished, much like a genie in a bottle waiting for that special rub. And I continued to use my little portable TV at the gym.

I felt really bad when I saw the Kindle just sitting there day after day after day. So, I fired it up and downloaded a couple of games. What a waste.

Then, I received an offer for a free Kindle book. I like free. So I downloaded it. And then another, and another, and another. Pretty soon I realized that I had started to build a nice little library on my Kindle. And that’s when this idea hit me – for the rest of the year I would only download free books to read on my Kindle. If you’re a writer, don’t get your panties in a wad, I buy books too, I just use a different account for those purchases. Now that we have that cleared up, back to the Project.

To date, I have one-hundred sixty-nine free ebooks on my Kindle. It is an eclectic mix of whales, pirates, birds, zombies, murder, magic, humor, inspiration, crafts, medical, how-to, and how not-to. But I know these books aren’t really free, someone somewhere is eating the cost of putting this information out there. And because I don’t want to be a “taker” I decided I would offer each of the generous authors something in return. Easier said than done.

The most obvious route for giving back would be to write a review on Amazon. That was my first obstacle. Although I tried to be somewhat selective with my download choices, and only add books that appeared to be of interest to me, I quickly realized that sometimes, you get exactly what you pay for. And, because I’m not one to go out of my way to say something less than kind about someone else, I faced a dilemma. Some of the books are so poorly written that I couldn’t complete them. And some I found to be merely a farce to try to get you roped into buying an add-on “secret” that was “much too big” to actually include in the “free” book. It felt like the kind of crap you see on late-night infomercials, or one of those work from home scams that train you to do unto others what some scumbag just did to you. I actually considered warning other readers about this one, and I might still.

And then there was the rejection letter I received from Amazon when I actually submitted a review of one of the free books from my library. I enjoyed the book, but, in my opinion, it wasn’t a perfect read so I gave it 4 out of 5 stars and wrote a nice little note to that effect. I received a very polite notice thanking me for submitting a review, but it did not meet their review standards and perhaps I should consider revising it and resubmitting. Excuse me? I completed all of the technical stuff for minimum word count, subject, star rating, everything. And you’re going to tell me that MY opinion of this book doesn’t meet YOUR review standards? Which led me to another question – who is the review written for anyway – is it for the potential reader? Or for the writer? I’ll have to address this topic in another post. Let’s get back to the Project.

I don’t like to be told how I should think. So no, I didn’t revise my review for resubmission.

I decided to try another route instead. I would contact the authors directly with my feedback. They could then choose whether they wanted to publish it, consider it, or toss it. And, where warranted, I would include any typos I had found distracting during my read. Again, easier said than done.

Some authors include contact info at the end of their books and ask you to send them your feedback and corrections, others don’t. If they have asked, I will try to comply. But honestly, some of the problems are sooo big! I am hoping that if they paid a proofreader or editor, they can get their money back.

As I am nearing the midway point of this little project, I have made a few decisions as to how I will proceed. If an author has invited readers to contact them directly, I will. If the author gives no indication he/she wants to hear it, I won’t. If I have nothing good to say, I will remain quiet (except for the one case noted previously). For a few select titles, I may even include them on this site in my “About a Book” category. It has to REALLY appeal to my sensibilities to land there.

In closing, I’d like to say to all of you wonderful authors out there who offer real, well-written stories and information at no cost to the reader, thank you. I am making note of those I have enjoyed, and will make an effort to watch for future offerings that I may purchase.

Stay tuned for more on the Kindle Project.