Saturday, November 24, 2007

By golly, there's no paper in that book!


It's called a KINDLE, and it's got me interested, very interested. It's Amazon.com's entry into the eReader market.

First off let me say, I don't do eBooks. Why? I love the experience of shopping in a bricks and mortar store and bringing home real, tangible books with gorgeous covers and lots of pages to read. I like seeing them stacked in my TBR pile maybe, but most of all, I like to admire them on the shelves in my office. If I've read a great non-fiction book, I like to keep it for future reference. If it's fiction, I like to give it a 'place of honor' on my keeper shelf. And heck, the ideaof reading a book on a small electronic screen has never sat well with me. I stare at the computer monitor all day. I don't want to read my books that way!

That opinion may change.

Just this week the AmazonKindle was announced. I've linked to the homepage, where you'll find further links that explain the device. Now this is not, I've been told, the eBook killer. Sony makes a reader that uses similar 'e-ink'. That means the screen is not backlit and resembles real paper. I can't imagine what that even looks like. I need to see one, hold one in my hand.

Here are a few of the neat things about Kindle:

--You don't need a computer to download books to it, or to recharge it. It's wireless. (Though, you can download pdf files from your computer to it, if you wish. There is a small fee.)

--Because it is wireless, you shop directly from the device. It doesn't use WiFi, but whispernet, which is supposed to be similar to a cellphone network. So I presume if you're standing at a bus stop, waiting, you can buy yourself a book in a snap.

==Buy a book, and it's delivered to the Kindle in less than a minute.

--Most NYT bestsellers are only $9.99. That means, you could be browsing books in a bricks and mortar. Decide you want to purchase Steven Colbert's latest for $20-some-odd dollars. Remember you have the Kindle in your pocket, and download the whole book for only $9.99. In less than a minute. How cool is that? [Paperbacks range in price. I looked up a few of my titles. The Nocturnes sell for $3.80. Luna tradesize are $9.99]

--It includes subscription to many of the world's major newspapers. You can also subscribe to blogs (for a fee; which sort of defeats that 'free' part of blogs).

--It holds over 200 titles.

--Long battery life. If you used it constantly, you would recharge every other day.

--No service plans or commitments. You'd be billed as Amazon usually does.

--If you're a writer, as mentioned above, you can upload pdf files. So I'm pretty sure I could load a work-in-process, tote it along to the doctor, and do a little editing using the keyboard and notation function while I'm there.

--I love the built-in dictionary. If you're reading and you come to a word you don't know (happens to me a lot), you click on it, and get the definition.

--free wireless access to Wikipedia. That's good or not so good, depending on how much you trust Wikipedia.

Why is this the device that may lure me into electronic books? Well, it's pretty. :-) The electronic ink looks like I won't have to suffer another screen read, but again, I'm reserving judgment on that until I actually see one. I like the idea of having some research books handy and totable. I even think I could get into my nightly reading in bed with this device. Not having to carefully hold that book so I don't crease the spine would so rock. And about that TBR pile. I would love to reduce that to zero by storing books in one handy-dandy little device. (Except the ones with the pretty covers and pictures inside, that I would continue to buy in paper.) Some books you just have to have 'in the flesh', so to speak.

As a writer, the announcement of the Kindle made me sit up straighter and reach for my agent's phone number. To be very truthful, writers do not make a lot on electronic copies of their books. Electronic copies receive some of the lowest royalties (although, I do know of one major publisher that does pay a reasonable rate). Think of the writers striking in Hollywood. They just want a piece of the action. And as a writer of paperback fiction, I want a piece of the electronic action. The book is the same as the paper copies my publisher sells, and there's less overhead to create an electronic book as opposed to the paper book. So why are my royalties so low? Just something to think about.

Now, the Kindle is priced at $400. That's a bit tough for my checkbook. And I really can't justify the expense. But as with most pretty new technology, it should go down within a year or so. I think about $199 would be more reasonable.

All right, I just found a great link to a Kindle review by the geeks at
Gizmodo
. They tested it in bed, on a plane, and yes, on the toilet.

So what do you think? Did you click on the link to read a little more about the Kindle? Does it appeal to you? Do you regularly use an eReader? How does the Kindle compare to the eReader you normally use? If you've never read an eBook, would this be the device to get you to try?

10 comments:

Christie Ridgway said...

Michele: I don't use an eReader but I'm very interested in them. Love to find one that would work for me. The Gizmodo article really kindled (hah) my interest in the Kindle. As you said, though, the price is too steep for me at this point.

Betina Krahn said...

I never use an eReader either, but I'd be willing to try.

There are some stories I'd like to check out and read, but don't necessarily want to have the book sitting around. Keeping up with the market, that kind of thing. After I've read a book and it's a couple of years old-- I'm always conflicted about what to do with it. Give it away? Give it to a Goodwill bookstore where they will resell it? See, if I had just downloaded into an eReader format. I could just delete and there'd be no guilt.

Hmmmm. Something worth looking into. ESPECIALLY if you could download some PDF's of your own and do work on it as well! I gotta check this thing out!

Michele Hauf said...

Yeah, I'm hoping someone I know gets it so I can take it for a test drive. But I'm patient. I can wait a few years. Maybe it'll be on my Xmas list for 2009?

Debra Dixon said...

Right now the price is a factor in my not snapping up the Kindle.

I am very attracted to the 'store in a box' concept so I can get books on the go without having an internet connection handy.

I'm going to be watching Kindle checking with "early adopter" friends to see how they like it.

flchen1 said...

I haven't used an e-reader (besides Acrobat Reader); this might be interesting, but I'm sometimes hard on my books, and wouldn't want to damage a $400 "book"... plus I still like books and the whole page turning thing :)

Cindy Gerard said...

Great Blog post, Michelle. It sure has me intrigued - once the price goes down :o(

Yvonne Lindsay said...

I took a look at the Kindle but unfortunately its not supported outside of America. Here in NZ there also is a dearth of information or product relating to digital book readers in any form and I've been toying with ordering a Sony reader for several reasons, despite the fact I've been digital reader resistant for a long time:

1. It's pretty :-) (sorry, but I am such a girl about electronics)
2. It looks easy to use
3. The screen looks like its a decent size
4. Its cheaper than the Kindle
5. If I don't like a book I don't have to keep it (although I'll probably still buy my absolute favourites in paperback)
6. Overall I like the idea of downloading a book for a reasonable price when an actual paperback varies in price in NZ from $7.50 (for category romance) to $25.00 (for standard paperback) to $35.00 (for trade paperback)--and don't get me started on hardcovers!

The electronic sales royalties thing really has my interest though because yeah, as authors we do miss out bigtime there because overheads for production and distribution are way less, and there are no 'reserves', right?

Samantha Hunter said...

I blogged on the kindle as well today, and if you check Cigars you can see all my reasons for not wanting one, but what I do use is a decomissioned Treo, in otherwords, a Treo I got free that I don't use as a phone, but download books to, and it works great. It's small, convenient, and easy. You can pick them up on eBay for under $100. I love e-reading, but the Kindle isn't a great deal, I think it's mostly marketing...

Sam

byrdloves2read said...

So many issues.

1 - That's just wrong that you get less for an ebook. It's so much cheaper to get to the consumers, you ought to get more!

2 - I use the eBookwise reader and love it. What I enjoy most is that the screen is backlit so I don't need to have an independent light source to read a book. That's terrific when you share a bed with someone and they want to sleep while you read.

3 - Love the Kindle concept of direct contact with the bookseller.

4 - The downside of ebooks is you can't easily share them or trade them to the used book store or donate them to the library.

Samantha Hunter said...

Though the trading/sharing thing is an upside for authors -- hate to say it that way, but the truth is there are so many things cutting into our earnings these days, that more protection on sharing is not an entirely bad thing... ;/

Sam