Thursday, February 3, 2011

Amazon Extras - Amazon sites you might not know about

Image representing Amazon as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
When it comes to online addictions, most people know me as pretty addicted to the tools that Google offers. Those who have been to my house know how regularly boxes from Amazon show up on the front step, and it is no surprise that I am about as equally addicted to the tools that Amazon offers. I wanted to talk about 4 tools from Amazon that you might now know about. Amazon has become much more than just an online book store, and you can really see that in some of these Amazon extras.
  1. Kindle: Most people know about the Kindle e-reader by now. The device is vary popular and you see them everywhere these days. What I want to talk about though is the site. One of the benefits of the Kindle is the attached keyboard. The keyboard makes it possible to easily annotate the books you read. You can highlight passages and make notes. It is a great way to help make sense out of what you read. Getting back to all of these great highlights and notes on the Kindle is not always the easiest, which is why the URL above exists. When you visit you will see all of your books, along with your annotations, from any web browser.  You can add new notes to highlights to further think through what you read, delete unwanted highlights, and see public highlights from others in the same book. There is also a tool for rating the book and marking the book as read or unread. The tool is simple to use, and very powerful.
  2. My Highlights Page for Kindle
  3. SoundUnwound: This is a wiki based music catalog that Amazon runs. The service has been around for a while, and allows you to help edit a library of information about music. They have some tools for music discovery based on the music library you have imported. They have a tool to sync Amazon purchases to your music library which is nice if you buy a lot of music via Amazon. If you are up to the challenge there is a music quiz you can take based on the music in your own library or a set of generic quizzes for various genres of music. Editing the site is easy, and the more you edit the higher you rank. I am not sure there is anything to rank other than seeing your name on the list of top editors. Likely not the best music discovery site on the net, but a useful tool especially with the Amazon sync.
  4. My Library View on SoundUnwound
  5. Shelfari: What SoundUnwound is to music, Shelfari is to books. They have recently merged logins from the original site to use Amazon accounts and have enabled book syncing with Amazon. Like SoundUnwound, Shelfari is a collaboration style site. They encourage users to add Facts to the books in their shelves. Things like authors are usually filled in, but other details like first sentence are asked for. You can tag, rate, review and and other personal metadata to books on your shelf. Groups and sharing options add a social aspect to the site. Shelfari works well for me now as I purchase 99% of my books via Amazon. Kindle and traditional books both show in the sync which is nice. I really like Shelfari. It is similar to Good Reads and other book reading tools. The collaborative bits go a bit further though, and the Amazon integration standout.
  6. My Shelf on Shelfari
  7. Amazon Console: I make use of Amazon's S3 storage service, in conjunction with Jungle Disk, to save backup copies of files to the cloud. The Amazon console is one tool I can use to access the files I have stored online. I use the service purely as offsite backup, but you could store anything on S3. Jungle Disk integrates nicely with my desktop running Windows, but when I get onto other computers I turn to the web console when I need access. The S3 part of the console looks very much like browsing files stored on your computer. You can also use the console for Amazon's other cloud based computing tools, but my usage is limited to S3 currently. If you are interested in inexpensive offsite back up I suggest taking a look at Jungle Disk and Amazon S3.
There it is, four tools that Amazon has that you may not have known about. If you use SoundUnwound or Shelfari give me a shout. Audible, the audio book store, is now owned my Amazon, but I figured enough was known about that service. Are there any Amazon run tools that you like to use?

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