Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Kindle’s Sweet Compulsions

There’s been much discussion on blogs about the kindle—whether it will destroy the print market, whether one should feel guilty for purchasing a kindle. Should you confess to owning one or keep it your dirty little secret? And then, there’s the curiosity over which eBooks people choose to buy on it.

I got my first kindle last year—a big DX—because I thought it’d be easier to read on it without reading glasses. For the holidays this year, I got my second--the newest, slimmest one around. Now I’m selling my kindle DX—well, my brand new sealed DX that amazon graced me with after the battery fizzled on the first one. Any bids? I promise to undersell all of those hawkers on eBay.

The first thing I read on the old DX was a colleague’s manuscript. It was perfect. I could read at night, lying down, without flipping through almost 400 pages of unwieldy manuscript. A little awkward too, as the kindle didn’t show page numbers then. The next thing I used it for, was to download lots and lots of free excerpts from the Amazon Breakthrough Contest (ABNA). This was big, big fun. They were free, they were quite varied, and not all good, but a few were brilliant—a total smorgasbord. The ones I liked, I could review, without having to read someone’s entire mss. This experience primed me for my next activity, and the one I still do most of all: sample novels as if I’m wine-tasting, or channel surfing.

First of all, one can download a short sample free from Amazon to test out a novel in order to see if you want to buy the eBook. Secondly, you can get trial freebies with newspapers, as I did with the Shanghai Daily.
What’s so great about this you ask? It begs adventure, experimentation, in a way that going into a traditional bookstore does not. Remember how you dreaded taking a chance on a CD before they had listening stations, or iTune sampling? Back then, you never wanted to take a chance on buying a dud CD. Too much money shelled out, too disappointing.

On any given day, I have at least 65 things on my kindle, and with the touch of a button, I can download another eBook or two, or three, within seconds! It’s positively addictive. I can easily see how eBooks, despite the fact that they are about half the price of their print equivalent, could outsell print. Mass sales vs. handselling. Right now, I have 3 adult novels on it, 1 sci-fi, 5 YAs, 1 middle-grade, 1 nonfiction, and 6 ABNA excerpts. That’s not including the 42 ABNA excerpts on my archive! I have everything from Rayo Casablanca’s hilarious novel, 6 Sick Hipsters, about twenty-somethings in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to Melissa Marr’s YA paranormal, Wicked Lovely, to Tamim Ansary’s nonfiction, Destiny Disrupted, about growing up in Afghanistan.

I don’t normally read romance. But I read recently, in the New York Times, that romance eBooks are the hottest market online. Reason being, no one has to see the maudlin, steamy cover in the subway and stifle a snicker. It will be fascinating to see which other eMarkets heat up next. And being an illustrator as well as a writer, I can’t wait for the day that kindle goes color. The nook just doesn’t cut it. Okay, amazon, where’s my residual? Just kidding. I do believe illustration will remain alive and well, even on eBooks.

What’s you eBook experience? Kindle protester, virgin, newbie, its biggest supporter? Do you sample like me, or always read through each entire eBook? What’s your weirdest eBook purchase so far? Your guilty little eSecret?


  1. My biggest thing is downloading e-galleys from Netgalley! There's ton to chose from in the YA genre. Love it!

  2. I got a new Kindle 3G for Christmas and I love it. I only have two complaints: No pretty novel covers and I can't use my Kindle while I'm running on the treadmill. But there are so many perks. I was waiting for a book to come out and I downloaded it to my Kindle seconds after it did. No wait at all! Plus, when I'm reading at night and I'm snuggled in bed, I can rest the Kindle in my lap and only pop out of the covers to turn the page (meaning press the button). With print books, I used to try to hold the book from under the covers and I've lost my place on numerous occasions. Still, I love print books, too. I'm glad to have both options.

  3. Kim, thanks for the tip on Netbooks, never heard of it, but I'll check it out! And, Kelly, it's so fun, right?

  4. I'm happy (as a writer) for folks to read more no matter how they do it. My 84 yr old father has discovered Kindle and loves it because he can set the type as big as he wants.

  5. I shopped at B&N yesterday and almost bought a hardcover for $24.99 until I pulled out my iPhone and found it on Kindle for 9.99 instantly.

    I think I'm the kind of shopper that's killing bricks and mortar bookstores.

    They need to wake up and smell the electrons!

  6. My Dad has a Nook, and I've sampled it. Even though it's not my favourite thing in the world I can see the appeal of an e-Reader.

    However, in my little opinion, there's nothing that can replace the feel, smell, heft, and promise of an actual print book.

  7. Yes, I do love thumbing through PAPER!!!!

  8. I am waiting to have the money to buy one of these things, and then they keep changing and upgrading. The Nook at B&N looks pretty tempting. What about Ipads with all these functions? I wonder how book publishers and packagers will deal with hard cover books in the future once everyone gets used to carrying around a lighter library. Meantime, I like all my books even if they are either too heavy or the print too small. Yes, paper is very pleasing to the touch. Sheila

  9. I sold my DX on eBay withon hours!!!! There is definitely a clamor for the kindle.

  10. I got a Kindle for Christmas this year. As a book lover, Ifelt conflicted but I agree that the try before you buy feature is amazing. But I still feel a bit guilty . . ..