Okay, this wins the award for what may be the single shortest “Sample” I’ve ever received on the Kindle.

Earlier this month I’d blogged about how you can finally download the original Winnie-the-Pooh onto your Kindle – including its classic black-and-white illustrations by Ernest Shepard. (And yes, those would make some excellent screensaver images!) It’s fun to see them on the Kindle, and even as an adult, it’s still a very fun read. But if you download the book’s sample, they send you exactly one sentence from the book’s first chapter.


“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.”

And that’s it!

Although to be fair, there’s also several illustrations, plus several pages of the humorous introduction to the book that was written by A. A. Milne.


I had written as far as this when Piglet looked up and said in his squeaky voice, “What about Me?”

“My dear Piglet,” I said, “the whole book is about you…”

“So it is about Pooh,” he squeaked. You see what it is…


But imagine clicking through the sample, and discovering that most of it is devoted to things like the the title page, the table of contents, the publisher’s information, and even a disclaimer that Winnie-the-Pooh “is a work of fiction.”


“Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.”


Who knew that so many lawyers lived at the House at Pooh Corner?

Ever want to change the images in your Kindle’s screensaver? It’s as easy as putting new 600 x 800 images into the system/ folder on your Kindle – and then running a script which finishes the update. At least, according to one web post (citing a discussion on a mobile books forum).

It links to the script to run, though it’s important to also read the page’s comments. Some users are having trouble running the update, and there may be a better way to accomplish this!

Caveat: I’ve never tried this myself. (And I’m not sure if it works for all Kindles, or only for the Kindle 2.) But I’m definitely visiting that web page when I’m finally tired of my Kindle’s pre-loaded screensavers!

That’s the second time in a row that’s happened! The screensaver is of an author whose books I’m reading on the Kindle!

This time, it was Alexandar Dumas. (I’m reading The Three Musketeers). And boy, does he look happy about it…

Yes, I’m looking up more ways to hack the Kindle’s screensaver images. And yes, I want to replace them with my own favorite authors. But as January 1 rolls away, it reminds me that this isn’t the first time I’ve done this. In fact, I hacked another set of author images 10 years ago — before the Kindle was even invented.

And I think the two experiences sprang from the exact same impulse…

Everyone has their own personal favorite authors. But when you’re selling a device — whether it’s a Kindle or a calendar — you just have to guess. The Kindle guessed Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austin, and Emily Dickinson (among others). And in 2000 I’d bought a “Great Names In Literature” calendar that had made — pretty much the same choices.

But they’d left out my favorite authors. (Where was William Faulkner? And how about Norman Mailer? Man, that guy was a hoot…) I also wished they’d included Jack Kerouac on my calendar. And then, I did something about it.

I went to the public library and photocopied giant pictures of my favorite authors — including Faulkner, Kerouac, and Mailer. And then I pasted them directly into my calendar — over pictures of my own least-favorite authors. (Don’t ask who!) I take my calendar far too seriously — I believe it’s a January ritual consecrating hopes for the year to come — or something like that. So I was hoping I’d end up writing my own book that year — and I wanted the right authors looking down from my calendar!

I could always do that to the Kindle’s screensaver images, but I won’t — because I really like the Kindle’s screensaver images. But I still might add a couple of my personal favorites into the mix as well.

What a nice moment. I’ve been reading Around the World in 80 Days — Jules Verne’s original novel. In the next chapter Phileas Fogg launches his trip, so I pick up my Kindle, but its screen-saver’s on.

And it’s showing me Jules Verne!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. One of Verne’s other books is #46 on the Kindle best-seller list. (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – written in 1870.) It’s been in the top 100 for 268 days.

But I’m guessing that’s not the reason Amazon included his picture as a Kindle screensaver. Jules Verne is one of those authors who symbolizes the reach of literature (since he famously wrote about submarines and space travel before either of those things was actually invented!) I’m guessing Amazon chose his image as a Kindle screensaver before they’d realized just how popular Verne would be for their digital editions.

But also, Jules Verne just looks like a novelist. (Wild French hair brushed back like he’s facing a gale — plus an old-timey bow tie and a classy 19th-century suit.)

But it got me thinking about just how exactly does Amazon pick the authors for their screensavers. So far I’ve also seen Emily Dickinson. I felt kind of sad. I remembered that she’d lived a lonely life — never left the village where she lived, and often never even leaving her house. (And I was surprised they’d used a picture of young Emily Dickinson. Or maybe she just looked young…)

And, yeah, when Oscar Wilde came up, I just assumed that my Kindle was haunted…

Sometimes it’s not an author — sometimes it’s just a cool image And sometimes, it’s a tip – which are actually pretty useful. (I didn’t know I could type my way to selections on the home page if I sorted the books by title…) 

And yes, there is a way to change your Kindle screensaver