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?