Robert’s Roundup #14 (Spring Smashwords Edition)

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(Work-in-progress. Will update more over next 2 days). Not as many deals this time, but I wanted to cover the Smashwords (SW) sale. Also, special for this month I purchased lots of amazing used print books from Better World Books. You have to shop very carefully, but mostly they offer cheaper-than-Amazon prices on out-of-print books. Also, They regularly run coupon codes on multiple purchases. Check out the Cheap Print Book section at the bottom of this column. Another thing, I bought a Paperwhite 10th edition, 32 gig for $119 last week. I’m going to do a review of the device soon, but overall, I am not impressed.

KU means Kindle Unlimited, LE means that lending of this Kindle title is allowed, and APUB means it was published under an Amazon imprint.

I wanted to mention an important detail. Up to now I had been using the Libby/Overdrive app to access ebooks from my public library, but now I can report that the Hoopla ebook app from another public library is better. It contains a lot more titles from university presses, plus several literary presses such as Counterpoint Press. If I were to guess, I think that the Hoopla people are selective about which ebooks they include on this subscription app, while Overdrive just let public libraries acquire their own titles (and as a result we have more bestsellers, genre fiction, etc).

Indie Author Spotlight

None this month although I’m really liking the sound Zdravka Evtimova (see below).

(Read about indie authors profiled in previous months).

Sales on Smashwords

This week is Smashwords Read an Ebook week. These prices are guaranteed to be valid until 11:59 PM PST March 7. Some of the author or listing URLs mentioned below don’t list the discount price, but if you click directly to the ebook, you will see the discount. (Here are two of my columns about SW authors: here , and here).

From Fomite, I see that the entire Fomite catalog on SW has been discounted to 1.25 or 1.50. Great stuff overall (I’ve blogged about their catalog here , and here). I want to mention that only epub files are available from SW for these books. I actually just contacted the publishers to notify them that SW now allows direct uploads of mobi.

I see 2 new short story collections by Bulgarian writer Zdravka Evtimova (website) for 1.25. You can smile on Wednesdays and In the Town of Joy and Peace. She has published several other story collections for higher prices. She has translated many English works into Bulgarian and vice versa. Here’s an interview where Evtimova says, “It is enough to take a stroll in some Bulgarian city, look into someone’s eyes, see their clothes, their walk, the houses around, the trees, and it makes you want to write about that person. This process is not automated – you cannot just push a button and get what you want, like your morning coffee for instance. Sometimes a chance encounter jolts you and the story starts to tell itself.” (Here’s another intervew and an online story Pay Me).

Unsolicited Press is also discounting many of its titles (not all). I love this press too, but some of its poetry titles are improperly formatted. I wouldn’t buy any poetry titles before 2019 for example. I wrote about some Unsolicited Press titles here, here and here. By the way, I notice that today

In my first column I raved about Indian short story writer Dinesh Verma. I see that finally Verma finished his translation of Munshi Premchand’s stories. The collection is titled Divine Arbiter and Other Stories. (2.99) He is famous for a novel Gift of a Cow which is not yet in ebook I believe.

Steve Benton (author website) is an old fogie sci fi author who has two free sci fi novels available during this week. Short story collection Compendium of Imaginary Stars and novel Lili G and the Malevolent Monsters.

It’s not a sale (it’s the same prize on Amazon), but the prolific Isham Cook (author website) is an expat writer (teacher?) living in China who writes fiction and essays. (His author bio describes himself as “Writing philosophy: downmarket, big concept, discriminating, provocative, outrageous. Ballard, Beckett, Borges, Dick, Kafka, Hesse, Melville, Mishima, Sade are influences.” All titles on SW/Amazon are 2.99. What looks interesting are The Exact Unknown and Other Tales of Modern China and Confucius and Opium: China Book Reviews (I’m a sucker for book review collections!) Some of these essays are available online .

Deals published by Amazon imprints

Generally these are titles published by the Amazon imprints. I frankly ignore most of the genre stuff and focus on the international authors and biographies. Follow this link to see which titles are 99 cents for the month. I’ve already bought a ton of these titles in previous months (check previous columns here, here and here), so maybe my recs will be sparser than usual. All are KU APUB, (but not lendable!).

Update: Although I have bought many of Amazon’s imprints, so far I haven’t bought anything since last RR.

Under the Radar

Generally bought at price between $1 and $3. You should set a price alert on ereaderiq to catch these titles the next time they are discounted.

Borrowed Time: The Science of How and Why We Age by Sue Armstrong. Great book by a science journalist. (I’ve started reading).

Contours of Darkness and the Gentle Degenerates by Marco Vassi, LE Marco Vassi was a sexual utopian who died young of AIDS. I’m writing an essay about his books.

We Wanted to Be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop by Eric Olsen. Frankly, the Amazon reviews are almost as amusing as the book itself.

1982, Janine (Canons) by Alasdair Gray, LE. Bawdy experimental novel by someone described as the Scottish James Joyce. Articles here, here and here.

Janitor’s Classroom by Richard Johnson

Misremembered Man by Christina McKenna KU

Abolitionist’s Wife & Appalachian Tales by Deanna Edens, 99 cents, KU, LE. Edens is a prolific author in many genres. She has lots of books, most of them 99 cents, with occasional freebies. Here’s an interview. I definitely plan to read a few of her titles.

Shackles and More Gripping Tales by James Hanna 99 cents (author page). I really got into Hanna’s other story collection and started Call Me Pomeroy . Here’s a nice interview.

Dance Between Flames: Berlin Between the Wars by Anton Gill (KU)

Children of Dust and Heav: Diary from Nazi Occupation through the Holocause by Stefania Heilbrunn (KU). FREE

Benjamin Markovits by Benjamin Markovits

Blink and it’s Gone Sales

Best of Edward Abbey. Anthology handpicked by the author himself in the 1980s. (His introductory essay is worth reading even if you don’t buy the ebook).

Seven Loves: A novel by Valerie Trueblood. 1.99 Trueblood is top of her class in short fiction, and I’m pretty much going to grab anything by her at this point.

Carthage: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates. 99 cents

Train of Powder by Rebecca West 1.99 Various journalistic pieces by West in her middle years. This contains some reporting on trials in post-WW2 Germany and in 1950s USA.

Creative Commons – Academic – Public Domain

You should really check out the digitalized versions of the influential Dial magazine of the 1920s. (wiki article). Apparently all Lost Generation writers and poets published there. That’s where TS Eliot first published Wasteland and won a big prize. BTW, the 1923 volume is also digitalized and a free download in epub and PDF — although you really need to read it in PDF.

Once in a Lifetime Deals



Darkness of Treading Water by Bradley Spender. (KU, LE)

Brain, Hope, the Heart by Martin Bosko (KU)

S O S: Poems 1961-2013 by Amiri Baraka, LE. I found this ample collection of poetry on discount



Review Copies Received


Better World Books (Print books)

I’ve been buying some old/rare books from Better World Books. They offer free shipping, (occasionally) cheap titles and coupon promotions (often listed at the top of the website). Don’t worry, everything gets subtracted automatically. I’m pasting, so the authors first and last name are reversed — sorry. The numbers refer to price paid before 20% discount was applied.

  • A history of American poetry, 1900-1940 3 by: Gregory, Horace. Major survey poetry by leading critic of poetry and his wife (also noted Pulitzer-winning poet) Marya Zaturenska.
  • The History of Jazz by: Gioia, Ted 4 Gioia is one of the America’s leading music critics, yet none of his ebooks are ever discounted.
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by: Loewen, James W. 4
  • Forward from This Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009 by: Pitts, Leonard, Jr. 5
  • Total Memory Makeover: Uncover Your Past, Take Charge of Your Future by Marilu Henner: $3.48 A surprisingly insightful and useful book which I had checked out of the library numerous times.
  • Playwrights at Work by: Paris Review, Interviews Plimpton, George 4
  • Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking by: Nisbett, Richard E. 4
  • The state of mind,: Thirty-two stories by: Schorer, Mark 3.50
  • Sinclair Lewis by: Mark Schorer 3
  • History of American Classical Music: MacDowell Through Minnmalism by: Struble, John Warthen 3.50
  • First principles of verse by: Hillyer, Robert 4
  • Naked in Deccan by: Kulkarni, Venkatesh 6 Out of print award-winning novel by the father of congressional candidate Sri Kulkarni.



Personville Press Giveaways and Deals

I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. All the titles are discounted on Smashwords for less that price — and usually under $1.50. Pay attention to any 100% coupon codes which I occasionally list below — they can be redeemed only a small number of times, so first come, first serve. Smashwords only sells epub versions of these titles, but you can easily convert them to Amazon’s mobi format by using Kindle Previewer or Calibre.






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