Monday, October 04, 2010

Kate's Kindle Diary Day 1

OK, so it arrived on Saturday, when I was nursing an unspecified, not especially dramatic bug of the kind that leaves you lethargic and glandy, without any specific symptoms that you can use to scare the life out of yourself by googling.

My Kindle has had quite a journeyfirst to my parentsin Merseyside, then to Spain, the reason being that you can’t choose to have a UK Kindle (with access to the UK titles in the shop) if you live here in Espana. Not sure of the logic of this, and I can’t imagine Europeans generally being too pleased at being linked to the US shop, but there we are.

Unpacked it in a hurry - the box said it was 'certified frustration-free packaging' which struck me as irritating. I was going to post a shot of the box but then I got a grip.

There are more techie reviews and macro close ups of the thing than you can shake a stick at on the web, and mine looks exactly the same as everyone else's. Kinda grey. What I want to do here is to talk about how it’s affecting my reading habits, so I will only say that, no, I didn't cut myself on the cutesy cardboard box and yes, the type/e-ink is amazingly clear and book-like from the moment you see the thing (the picture shows a close-up of the screen), and yes, it felt solid but light in my hand. Not pretending to be a book at all, but with enough familiarity to make the connection clear.

Initially I downloaded lots of freebie classicsincluding Winnie the Pooh. The illustrations looked great. But I didn't quite feel the same enthusiasm for starting on Crime and Punishment. OK, it's brilliant that the Kindle stays the same weight once I have thousands of pages of Russian Literature available to me, but embarking on a Great Work is no less daunting for that.

Hmm, I thought. Maybe I need to read something more contemporary. Shall I download The Help? Or Stephen Fry’s latest? Somehow the choice of my first paid for book seemed Significant.

It was only after reading this Guardian piece that I found theread a samplebutton on the amazon page – I swear I am normally more observant but there are a lot of buttons on the right of the amazon page!

Well, that was me. Off!

Went on a downloading frenzy and, in particular, was seeking out books that had been reviewed in the weekend papers. So in went When the Lights Went Out by Andy Beckett, about the 1970s, Whoops! by John Lanchester and The Blitz by Juliet Gardiner. I can’t help thinking that Amazon should have a page forfeatured in the paperswith hotlinks to the reviews, as there’s something rather cool about reading a review, clicking onto Amazon and buying, within the space of a few moments. On Me and My Big Mouth (in an article originally published five years ago), Scott Pack insists that reviews don't sell books. I wonder if this might change, at least for those who live online?

Not that I have bought anything yet! No, I am still sampling away. My library includes:

Classics: Anna Karenina; Madame Bovary; Dracula; Diary of a Nobody; Crime and Punishment; The Moonstone; The Phantom of the Opera and A Christmas Carol. All free.

Children’s: The Jungle Book, Grimm’s Fairy Stories and Winnie-the-Pooh (again, all free)

Samples: oh, yes, this is the biggie: When the Lights Went Out; Whoops!; The Blitz; Agent Zigzag; Operation Mincemeat; Eat Pray Love; Freedom; Nothing to Envy; Mini Shopaholic; The Help; Sister; Room; The Legacy and A Place of Secrets.

Interesting, for me at least, that I am really open to sampling non-fiction when my usual reading is predominantly novels. Not sure how many will transfer into purchases. Or whyperhaps it’s because non-fic books are generally so heavy to buy in print? Having said that, you presumably miss out on photos (unless they are reproduced in the full versions).

Samples downloaded: 14

Money spent: £0

Day 1 conclusions: samples are like crack. As a reader, it’s fun to flit between books. As an author, it might lead to fewer sales as the reader is spoiled for choiceor maybe the iTunes effect will apply and people will be buying like billy-o, electronically, as it’s so much less painful than handing over real cash or using Amazon’s new choice of courier, Home Delivery Network which has, to put it mildly, ‘mixed reviews.’ And unread books will be less intimidating on the Kindle than on the about-to-topple-over, guilt-inducing to be-read-pile on the bedside table.

What do you reckon?


Blogger Leatherdykeuk said...

Kindle sales of my novel 'Screaming Yellow' outnumber every other format put together.

3:21 pm  
Blogger Jenny Beattie said...

I really really want one.

4:02 pm  
Blogger Belle said...

I have a Sony Reader and love it. I have read many free books and have bought a few from the E-Reader store. They were very cheap at first, but have gone up in price a bit in the last six months.

I can now get books out of our local library and put them on the reader. When your time is up, the book is just erased off your computer somehow.

I would think authors could sell just as many electronic books as regular books. If I could afford it I would buy tons of books, I just can't. I get maybe one per month which is what I used to do at the local book store.

7:23 pm  
Blogger Kate Harrison said...

Wow, that's sign of the future with Screaming Yellow. And is your royalty rate good?

Jenny, expats are officially ALLOWED to have an ebook reader as a human right, and expat writers especially, so they can keep up with current trends.

Belle, yes, that makes total sense to me and I would probably use the library myself if I were in the UK at the moment. The royalty rates are higher than on hard copies of books though arguably not high enough.

What makes you choose an ebook in the library as opposed to a hard copy? Do you do it online?

4:00 pm  
Blogger Lorna F said...

Kate, this is really useful. My birthday is horribly imminent and I was toying with the idea of easing the pain with buying a Kindle. It's the first e-reading device I've felt inclined to purchase - it seems to be extremely user-friendly. Like you, I predict I'll download freebies like mad! Should make travelling easier, leaving some actual room for clothes in my suitcase!

1:24 am  
Blogger Belle said...

Yes, I get the library books online, and there are waiting lists for a lot of them. I enjoy the convenience of not going out, and I won't lose a book!

2:06 am  

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