Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kindle Envy

Pages written since last post: 145

If you’re not in The Industry, you may not be aware of the firestorm of controversy regarding the evil e-reader which is destined to destroy publishing as we know it forever (speaking strictly from the point of view of a writer, this may not be a bad thing). It has taken me a really long time to comprehend the significance of this, because I am pretty much at the bottom of the technological curve. I’ve never sent a text message in my life. Totally don‘t get Twitter. My big-city friends are shocked and appalled when they dial my cell phone and, like, no one answers (don’t they know the only use for cell phones is when your car breaks down on the side of the highway at midnight in an ice storm?) I don’t know anyone– yes, this is God’s honest truth– who owns a Kindle. I live in one of the 3% or so of America that is not covered by Whispernet.

Yet....

Every time I open up the Amazon.com page that $259 Kindle flashes in my face like some kind of subliminal siren’s song. First I am intrigued. Then I’m hooked. Now I am obsessed.

Here are the books I would download today, immediately, right now, if I had a Kindle:

Super Freakonomics by Levitt & Dubner (okay, this one I would probably buy in hardcover anyway)

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Knit The Season by Kate Jacobs

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Ford County by John Grisham

The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans

Angel Time by Anne Rice

The Lost City of Z by David Mann

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Mann


And that’s not even to mention the dozens of less expensive (2.99-3.60) books I would download simply to glance over– because I need to know what the competition is writing, why these books are selling and who is buying them; in other words, for business.

Publishers and authors take note. With the exception of one or two titles, these are books I would not otherwise buy at all. Here’s why:


Michael Crichton, John Grisham, Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Rice : I usually buy these authors in hardcover, but each of the titles seems to be a diversion from what I usually expect from them. I’m not sure I’d actually finish any of these books, and these titles, together, amount to over $100. I could buy half a Kindle for that.

On the other hand, if I read and enjoy these titles, I will buy them in hardcover to keep, particularly the Michael Crichton book, which I know is his last. That’s a promise.

The Christmas List, Knit The Season: Fluff. Enjoyable, but not worth $25.00 each. Sorry.

Super Freakonomics: Because I want to read it right now. I’m in the mood. I live 60 miles from the nearest bookstore. I want something to read.

All Others : These have been recommended to me by the Literary Elite who, in my opinion, have only about a 40% success rate (much like movie critics). I will occasionally take a chance on their recommendations, but not to the tune of $27.95

So there you go, the honest truth from a real reader, and this is a factor that I think might be too often brushed aside in the e-book wars. These are potential sales of books that would otherwise be borrowed from the library, loaned by friends, or not read at all. The author, and the publisher, make money from these sales. Words are read. Stories are told. This is a good thing.

Of course there are down sides to the $9.99 e-book, and I will endeavor to uncover them in the coming days. There is more and more controversy, as everyone tries to get in on the act. And, bottom line, $259 is still a lot of money to pay for a device that does only one thing, and that one thing is something you can do by yourself: read.

On the other hand... Christmas is just around the corner. Santa Baby, I’ve been an awful good girl this year.

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