Last week I downloaded the Kindle app for my PC.
This is actually a big deal for me. See, I’ve been following (sorta, on the periphery, drifting in and out) the news about the explosion of e-books sales. Recently Amazon and B&N dropped the prices of the Kindle and Nook to less than $200. Writers are turning more and more to digital self-publishing to take advantage of this growth; author JA Konrath, for instance, turned down print publishing contracts to self-publish on the Kindle.
To which I had always just said, “Hmm.” Because, in spite of all the hype and the convenience of acquiring e-books, several reasons have stopped me from taking the plunge into e-books as a reader.
First, and most importantly, I have never been able to read novels online or on the computer, barring the ones I do for “work”—writing and revising my own, or critiquing other people’s. I don’t even have the attention span for long blog posts. When I read short fiction online for market research, my mind wanders (yep, that’s my brain on computers). The Internet is too distracting, the computer screen is too hard on my eyes, whatever the reason I haven’t been able to do it.
Secondly, I get gadget-overload. Dealing with cords and cables and batteries and power… ugh, I can’t even keep my cellphone charged up! Plus, I spend way too much time on the computer anyway–writing, blogging, emailing, puttering around–and reading a book is a way of getting away from all the electronic devices in my life.
Thirdly, e-readers (which might solve some of my problems by being lightweight, portable and less prone to causing eye strain) are really expensive. Even with the recent price drops, I wouldn’t spend more than a $100 for a gadget I *might* use. I test-drove a Nook briefly at a B&N store, but I would need to bring an e-reader home and play with before deciding to purchase it. I wouldn’t just buy it off the bat. On a related note, many e-books are just as expensive as my preferred reading format–mass market paperbacks–and far more expensive than my preferred delivery service (free from the library *grin*).
And the e-books that are free or cheap are probably written by aspiring writers who have not yet learned the craft, and their quality is likely to be…. uneven. Since I value my time (or really should! :D), I’m not willing to dig through what’s essentially a slush pile in order to find gems. At least when I go to a bookstore, I can be assured that all the books there meets certain minimum standards; that they will be mostly free of typos and grammatical error, that the quality of the prose won’t liquify my eyeballs or cause my brain to run away by slithering out my nose in gobs of gunk…. *ahem*.
But in spite of the above objections, I did download the Kindle app and three books to go along with it. First off, the price was right (they were all FREE) and second, one was an out-of-print book by a published writer and another a short story by an author whose work I’ve heard about but not sampled. The third is a book about creativity, which is something I’m always a sucker for reading about.
So, what does it mean when a holdout like me actually gets some e-books? Well, first I have to get around to reading them, but the truth is e-books are growing and people are getting more used to reading onscreen. Here’s yet another article by an e-book skeptic-turned-fan. I expect to be reading conversion accounts of many more.
What about you? Do you e-book? What are your thoughts?
robin cornett says
Now that I have the kindle app (for the iPad *blushing*), I’ve spent more on “books” in the last two months than in the last two years. One nice thing about it is that I can add books to my library that I don’t necessarily want to have taking up shelf space, which is quite short supply here. They may be fun to read again, but they may not be worth the space. I bought Megan Whalen Turner’s latest on there but it certainly merits an additional purchase so I can have the hard copy, which I prefer. I wouldn’t enjoy the laptop reading experience but having a digital copy that I can basically hold like a book is great.
Are you going to name names on the stories you bought?
I need more books like I need a hole in my head. Between Amazon, 40% off Borders coupons and two libraries, I’m set on books for years. I’m ruthless about purging books, too. With a hard copy, I can at least trade it into the used bookstore for credits.
I got the first of a Christian fantasy quartet by Karen Hancock (been meaning to read it for years; it’s now out-of-print but the publisher’s giving it away for free as an e-book) and a short story by Ilona Andrews (I got it at Smashwords),
I’m about to call it a night and go read in bed, but I’ll be curling up with a book not my laptop. Still haven’t gotten around to the e-books. 😀
Megs - Scattered Bits says
I ebook when the price is right. It’s so significantly less than the paperback that I’m willing to up the cover. Just like mp3s. I only buy them when the price is so hugely different that I’m willing to up that gorgeous cover-handling experience and HAVING THE LYRICS. It drives me nuts that.
If the price is the same, as it is with Temeraire books for the most part and for any CD I want ALL the songs to instead of just three or four, sorry, I want the whole shebang. I’m a kinesthetic learner and I want every smidgen of info, picture, and experience that went into the package, and this is a girl that reads probably around 700,000 words per WEEK on the computer. It isn’t that I can’t. It’s that I want it all.
And I hate not being able to take a book into my room after computer hours (big family, necessary law) and finish it up. I have to wait until the next day. Not good.
Oooh, Megs, good call on wanting to experience the whole package, all the details the publisher put into cover and font and paper thickness and margins and all that.
Of course, sooner or later e-books are going to come with designed-for-them bells and whistles. Tor is already reissuing e-book versions of the Wheel of Time series with awesome new covers. I expect we’ll see original soundtracks and author commentary in e-books soon enough. 😀
Megs - Scattered Bits says
Oh, but I buy PDFs. I refuse to buy app-based e-books. :shudders: That whole concept is just wrong to me. Give me an rtf or a PDF, and I’m happy.
What bugs you about the app-based e-books? Just curious…
Megs - Scattered Bits says
You have to get the app. You’re limited to the app. You can’t read the book anywhere. There are distractions in the way of opening the book and reading the thing. You can’t just email it to self and read it on breaks at work, when you’re home, and on the weekend. It’s no longer cross-platform. For me, that is just not acceptable.
I know. I’m picky.
Congrats on your acquisition of a Kindle. The world of ebooks is laid out on the web before you.
I understand your concerns re quality of some of the content available but do you feel the same about reading blogs (typos, poor grammar, etc.)?
The ‘slush pile’ is a term invented by publishers and it does no credit to the labours of writers who spend thousands of hours creating a work. Ultimately, it is the discerning reader who exacts standards that will permeate the ebook world.
Yes, I do feel the same way about typo-riddled poorly-written blogs. None of the ones I frequent fall into that category.
I’ve never thought of the term “slush pile” as derogatory. I suppose “submissions queue” might be more neutral, but it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well.
I still haven’t read anything on my Kindle app yet. I might have to wait to get an actual dedicated e-reader before the world of e-books opens up. I just have a very hard time reading large amounts of text onscreen for fun (and I love my laptop but how am I supposed to just cuddle up with it?).
Thanks for stopping by.