Category Archives: Reading

The Best Books to Read This Winter


When the cold weather rolls in, it’s time to curl up by the fire with a good book. Cash4Books is here to help! We’ve put together a list of the best books to read this winter. Whether it’s a thriller to keep you on the edge of your seat, or something romantic and imaginative, stay warm with one of these good reads. Continue reading

Top Books To Read In College

We’ve collected the top books that everyone in college should read.  We did this by analyzing data collected over the course of 10 years from thousands of “.edu” email addresses.  The most popular books sold back into circulation via are listed here.  We focused more on titles that are not necessarily considered a typical college textbook, but just top books to read while you are in college.

Here are 10 books you should read before you graduate college:

  1. The Great Gatsby
  2. Things Fall Apart
  3. Night
  4. The Catcher in the Rye
  5. The Odyssey
  6. Fahrenheit 451
  7. The Stranger
  8. Into the Wild
  9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  10. The Last Lecture

Leave a comment for what book you think we missed!

A Review of Independent Bookstores Selling Google eBooks

The American Booksellers Association announced on December 6, 2010, that ABA-member IndieCommerce websites are now selling Google eBooks™ online.  We are now a little over 90 days in, and this post is a review of that program.

My first stop was looking up some recent news regarding Google eBooks.  I came across this March 6th article, by Chris Knape, titled “As bookstores everywhere struggle, Schuler Books in West Michigan offers customers an updated edition“.  The article starts out talking about how Schuler Books is now diversifying into kitchen utensils, heat-therapy pillows,  and other non-book items.  Then an explanation about the diversification to eBooks:

“In December, Schuler joined a partnership between Google, book publishers and other independent bookstores that allows it to profit from the sale of Google eBooks from its website,

Google eBooks can be read on virtually every mainstream reader device except Amazon’s market-leading Kindle, which uses a proprietary format.

Each Schuler store now has a dedicated kiosk to walk customers through the process of purchasing an eBook online.

Unlike traditional new books — which Schuler still stocks by the thousands — the company makes commissions off the sale of eBooks, so it has no upfront inventory costs. Because prices are set by publishers, they are the same regardless of where a consumer makes a purchase. In the industry, that’s known as the agency model.”

Interested in how Schuler Books implemented this “partnership”, I visited to learn more.  Their website greeted me with a 400 pixel wide “WE SELL eBOOKS” banner that was front and center.  Underneath the banner was this embedded youtube video:

Some of the initial questions and thoughts that popped into my mind as I watched the video:

  1. What will motivate a customer to go to to purchase an eBook versus the Google ebookstore? Where is the added value? The differentiators?
  2. It is apparent that Google eBooks are intended to be run on many devices. If I buy a Google eBook from Schuler, does this mean that Schuler will assist me in accessing and loading the content onto my Android?  How about my Nook? iPhone?
  3. What if I had a kitchen utensil and a Google eBook that I wanted to buy?  Would be able to handle this?  An eBook and a physical book/item in the same shopping cart could potentially pose a serious challenge for a small indie ecommerce website (in my opinion).
  4. How seamless is the transition from to Google, and back again?  Is it a good customer experience?
  5. At 3:03, why would I want to read and download my Google eBooks from and not the Google ebookstore? Is Shuler going to have an app for that?
  6. At 3:07, when Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk opens for reading, it seems to be an odd transition to a very stripped down page.
  7. Does have the same comprehensive inventory that I would find on Google’s ebookstore?
  8. How is’s search functionality?  Does it actually use Google as a back-end search engine to pull up the results?

With a few ideas for what I wanted to test and review, I set off with the following methods:

Search and the Google ebookstore to see how they compare

First I did a few author searches on Schuler.  I searched for “Dan Brown” and “Stephen King”…. seemed to work fine.  Then I searched for “The Help” by Stockett on Schuler’s Google eBooks tab… nothing.  Then I thought that maybe Google doesn’t have that book. I hopped over to Google’s ebookstore and found it right away.

Next I looked at Google ebookstore’s New arrivals.  The following b0oks were displayed to me:

As a test, I searched for the following on

  • Moonwalking with Einstein
  • One of our Thursdays is Missing
  • Dark Prince
  • The Company We Keep

The first two were NOT found on, and the second two were found.  This, along with “The Help” being MIA, leads me to conclude the answer to #7 is NO.  Independent bookstores may NOT have the same comprehensive eBook inventory that the Google ebookstore has.

For #8, I simply tested a few misspellings.  One of which was “Moonwalking with Einstein” versus “Moonwalking with Einstien“. Google ebookstore correctly found the book I wanted, while did not. Google also told me that I spelled it wrong by giving the the classic “did you mean___ link.” The leads me to conclude that Schuler is not using Google’s search power to pull up their search results.  They must be relying on some other search engine (which will undoubtedly pale in comparison to Google’s).

Link my Google account to and see what happens

Background info: I already have four books in my Google ebookstore library: one of which I purchased and three I downloaded for free.

It was not difficult to create the account and then find what to click on to “associate” the two accounts.  However, I did have a problem with Google’s language:

The site is requesting access to your Google Account for the product(s) listed below.

Google Books

Google is not affiliated with, and we recommend that you grant access only if you trust the site.

The red font was added by me for emphasis. “Google is not affiliated with….”  OK, we’ve got a problem here, right off the bat for #4.  We went from a warm and fuzzy “partnership” in the article to “not affiliated” according to Google.  Hmmm… I went ahead and clicked the “Grant access” button regardless of the wording issue.  After clicking Grant access, I found myself at the following page:

New problem: there should be four books in my ebook library, not one.  My free downloads from Google seem to be missing. That answers #5. I would only use Google for that fact alone. Here is a screen shot of my Google ebookstore library:

Then I clicked the “Read” link in my Schuler Google eBooks list for the CSS book.  I was taken to  Where the next problem came about was when I clicked the Back link.  Instead of taking me back to the page I was on (my ebook library), it takes me back to the product page for that book on Schuler.  Oops. That answers #6. The transition has a problem.

Go shopping

To test #3, I simply added an eBook to my cart and then a paperback book.  I immediately received this red error message, which answers it:

We could not add this item to your cart. At this time, Google eBooks must be purchased separately from other products and other eBooks. We apologize for the inconvenience while we’re working to improve this.


I was unsuccessful in using my Google account to figure out how to disassociate my Schuler with my Google Account. I did find the location on Google.  It says: “Connected accounts – View and manage your accounts from other services”. But after clicking it, Schuler does not show up.  Another oops.  I finally was able to figure out how to disassociate them only by visiting, My Account, My eBooks, and then a link in the footer says “Disassociate my Google Account”.

In Conclusion

Finally, to answer #1 and #2.  Ultimately, an eBook shopper needs an easy way to search, browse, purchase, read, and be supported in this new and emerging technology.  So far, this ABA indie bookstore Google eBook partnership model fails on many levels.  This seems likely only the tip of an iceberg of failure to me.  Why would someone go to an indie bookstore to buy a Google eBook instead of just going straight to Google?  To offer their undying love and support of the indie bookstore?  Maybe.  But, if going straight to Google saves people enough time, hassle, and headache; then there will not be a need (or want) for the indie middleman.  For example, there is huge value in Google’s searching and browsing capabilities alone.

Many people will simply want the shortest route from point A to point B.  Point A is “I think I want to buy an eBook.”  Point B is reading your new eBook on one of many supported devices.  It is true that you can buy the book at the indie store for the same PRICE as the Google ebookstore–for that, I applaud Google, the publishers, the ABA, and the adoption of the agency model.  But, from the consumer perspective, there is much more to this than simply price and supporing your local indie store.  This indie model adds layers in between Google and the end user.  If these layers do not add enough value to the consumer, they will reject them. Furthermore, if these layers tend to add time and hassle to the process, then more the reason for the consumer to reject them.  By layers, I specifically mean the inferior search/browse capabilities of the indie ecommerce websites. Another layer is the eBook library that was missing three of my books. Another layer is the purchase process. Then the reading process… and so on.

Additionally, a quick test of a few other independent bookstore websites showed very similar problems, and similar unnecessary layers.

In conclusion, the current process of independent bookstores selling Google eBooks was disappointing.  The ultimate fate of this Indie/Google partnership remains to be seen, but my prediction is that it is headed for trouble.

Keep Portland Weird (Word Wise)

Portland has a reputation for being different. It is also known for being a great literary city. So, of course, there would be some things that makes it weird- or, at least, unique- for its residential readers. Let’s take a look at a couple of these.

The Bookstores

It’s no surprise that when bibliophiles come to Portland, one of their first stops is Powell’s Bookstore. With its four floors of color coded rooms, it really does seem that you’ve stepped into a “city of books”.

There are also many local independent stores specializing in a specific genre. For mystery maniacs, Murder by the Book is “the scene” in the Hawthorne Neighborhood. It’s all Agatha all the time (and other Mystery greats as well.) There are not one, but two children’s bookstores for young ones and the young at heart. A Children’s Place is in the beautiful Beaumont neighborhood. My favorite is Green Bean Books (in the Alberta Arts district) where you’ll find vending machines selling finger puppets and mustaches. Those features just help the imagination run wild.

Reading Frenzy is a great store for anyone interested in supporting popular self-made mini-publications called zines. Whatever range of topics people want to read about- from mundane and trivial to innovative and awesome, there’s sure to be something for everyone there.

Everywhere You Go, There’s Something to Read

For anyone who feels that walls are too confining, walking around Portland can be a reading experience in itself.

In “Portland’s Living Room”, check out the brick squares and read the names of those who raised funds for Pioneer Courthouse Square. And, although they weren’t sponsors, Sherlock Holmes, George Washington, and Elvis Presley (just to name some famous few) can be found among the names.

Popping up around Portland are poetry posts. These are just nice little distractions when one stumbles upon them.

While riding the streetcar, I noticed a man tattooed with words. I guess you can literally read him like an open book, which I didn’t. That would just be too weird, even for me.

There are many other ways Portland is weird, word wise. When you’re here, keep your eyes open. If your city has some interesting literary character, we would love to hear about it!

New Year’s Resolution: Finish Reading Books!

Since it’s a new year, it’s time to create a new year’s resolution. This year, I plan on reading all the books I bought in 2010 before I start buying books in 2011. I’m a notoriously slow reader; before I’m even finished reading a book, I’ve bought a new one. And before I start reading that new book, I’ve bought two more. So, books tend to pile up in my house. Here’s just a few that I need to read:

  • Boneshaker, Clementine and Dreadnought all by Cherie Priest. Cherie Priest writes faster than I can read. She wrote two sequels to Boneshaker before I finished it. And I bought it went it first came out. I imagine that she’ll have eight more books published by the time I finish Clementine.
  • For the Win by Cory Doctorow. This is a book I purposely didn’t finish reading. Now that might make it seem like a bad book, but quite the contrary, it’s a fantastic book. The problem is it’s about a MMORPG similar to World of Warcraft, and reading about the game will make me want to play the game again. And I wouldn’t get anything else accomplished. Ever.
  • Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey. I read anything that Kadrey writes. I’d read cereal boxes if he wrote them. I’m actually reading this one now; I might finish it by the end of February.
  • Lady of Mazes by Karl Schroeder. I don’t even know what this book is about; I just bought it because I love Schroeder’s Virga books.
  • That doesn’t even include the piles of comics and manga.

I imagine I’ll finish at least two of these books before my resolution comes crashing down around me. I already know the next book I’ll buy: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. It’s a South African book finally available in the US. I’m not completely sure what it’s about; I only know that whenever someone does a bad thing, an animal bonds with their soul and they get magical powers. I can’t wait to read it (slowly)!