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Archive for the ‘Kindle’ Category

Note: All of my notes from the Saturday and Sunday sessions are forthcoming. Here’s what I’ve been able to put together so far. Also, since you’ll only be seeing summaries of the sessions I attended, the WDC staff said that there will be some sort of summary on all of the sessions posted on the conference site at http://www.writersdigestconference.com/ehome/27962/home/?&. I just checked, and they don’t have anything posted yet, so mine will have to do for the moment. ūüôā And I will get them up for you as quickly as I can.

Saturday, January 21–Session #1: E-Book Publishing 101–Jane Friedman, Media Professor and former editor of Writer’s Digest Magazine (This session was of huge interest to me because, even though there was a bit of agent interest in my nonfiction book during the Pitch Slam, I’m still leaning heavily toward the e-pub option for at least that next book. Not only am I excited about the potential of that option, but I really want to learn firsthand what’s involved and how it all works.)

E-pub vs Print on Demand (POD)–author has full control of pricing, cover, etc. with E-pub.¬†Author control varies and can be very limited with POD.

What about author rights with e-pub?

  • Copyright is secure
  • Author has full rights re: publishing & distribution except for new Apple rules (covered below).
  • Authors are not killing future chances with traditional publishers if they go e-pub. Might have been true in the past, but no longer.
  • All rights are the writer’s to sell.
  • Caution re: possible exception(s)–Authors previously published with traditional publisher need to check their contracts for rights on existing titles.

Major e-book retailers, devices & formats

  • Kindle (mobi format)–50-70% of the market
  • B&N Nook (epub)–20-30%
  • Apple iPad & iPhone (epub¬†& the newly announced iBookAuuthor, which is only readable on Apple devices–more later)–less than 20%

These three are the main devices and formats. The others on the market are:

  • Sony (epub)
  • Kobo¬†(epub)
  • Desktop/Laptop (PDFs)

Writers going the e-pub route are working with distribution channels and retailers rather than with publishers. Distrib/Retailer options:

Single Channel (Fomatted to work on only one device) versus  Multiple Channels (Push books out to all single channels)

  • Kindle¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†BookBaby (This one looks really interesting, by the way.)
  • B&N¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Smashwords
  • iTunes¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† PublishGreen
  • iBooksAuthor*
  • GoogleBookStore
  • Scribd

*The new iBooksAuthor will only work on Apple devices. More in a minute.

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Most distribution services and retailers will accept Word documents.

  • Smashwords: takes MS Word. Free to publish. Author keeps 85% of the net. No Kindle distribution, however. Would need to publish on Kindle separately.)
  • BookBaby: Free¬†conversion from Word, HTML, RTP, Apple Pages, plain text. $99 to publish plus $19 annual fee to sustain. Author keeps 100% of the net.) Also offers print service option plus add-on services for ISBN and cover design.
  • PublishGreen: Converts from MS Word, PDF,¬†InDesign. $399-$999 for “full service” package. Author keeps 90-100% of the net.

When is it better to prep your own e-book files? When you:

  • have text-driven work.
  • are not scared by HTML, CSS, and/or MS style sheets. (Guess this answers the question for me. ūüôā )
  • plan on offering PDF versions¬†of your book.

Formatting & Conversion Definitions 

Conversion is an automated process and = exporting files from one format to another without any editing or styling.

Formatting is a manual process and = editing & styling to “look good” on e-reading devices. Process also corrects things that got messed up during the conversion process.

If you’re comfortable doing these things yourself, here are recommended¬†programs: SIGIL¬†for Formatting and CALIBRE for Conversion. (I am definitely not going to be¬†worrying about this. I’m looking at BookBaby. They had an exhibition table at the conference, and once I get through the last of my treatments, I’ll be following up with them for more detail.)

DIY (Do It Yourself) Formatting Tools:

    • Scrivener–$45
    • PressBooks–free. WordPress based, exports e-pub files.

iBooksAuthor. Newly announced by Apple. Limited to iOS¬†devices for both reading as well as sales (iBook format). Free but limited to Apple products and can only sell through Apple bookstores. Beautiful program, easy, drag-and-drop. But exclusive to Apple products and distribution. Industry had hoped that iBooksAuthor¬†would also create e-pub format. Didn’t turn out that way. If you’ve already created a book for sale/distribution elsewhere and then decide to use iBookAuthor¬†for your e-book, you can continue to sell that book everywhere. But if you use iBooksAuthor¬†for your first effort to publish a given book, your Apple agreement will state that you cannot sell that book through any other channel that iBookstore.

  • VookMaker–forthcoming. Not an Apple product but will be similar¬†to iBooksAuthor¬†in terms of being user friendly¬†with drag-and-drop, etc. But this one is expected to support multiple sales channels.

Again, if you opt to do your e-book with a company like BookBaby, you don’t have to worry about any of these Conversion and Formatting tools and programs.¬†

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Three biggest factors affecting e-book readership base: (These all seem so obvious that I’m wondering if I missed something.)

  • Price
  • Cover
  • Readership Base

Kindle currently represents 60-70% of all ebooks.

An author’s Amazon Page may very likely be the first and only page a reader looks at. Reference: www.DigitalBookWorld.com¬†— see article by Carolyn McKray on optimizing an author’s presence through their Amazon Page.

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“Sweet-Spot” Pricing for Novels:

  • 99 cents drives volume and Amazon rank, for which Amazon pays 30% royalty.
  • Amazon pays 70% royalty on books prices from $2.99-$9.99.
  • Authors who are getting the hang of things will switch off their pricing between 99 cents and $2.99.
  • The lesser known the author, the less you should charge.
  • If you have a series, consider starting with a loss leader (99 cents to start).

For nonfiction, study what your competition is charging. Go to the Kindle store and drill down to your category to start your analysis.

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Cover: First and most important impression. Needs to look good in thumbnail.

ISBNs:

  • Not mandatory for Kindle.
  • Required for distribution through iBookstore.
  • If you’re going the full DIY e-pub route: ISBN.org to buy ISBNs–$125 (cheaper per unit the more you buy).

Online marketing is critical for e-pubs. Draft a marketing plan and include an in-depth online and social media presence.

Some resources to further pursue research on the e-pub option for your book(s):

Here’s a link for a copy of this entire presentation: http://bit.ly/2012wdc

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Well, there you have it–one of the reasons I’m taking so long to get this stuff out to you. But since this particular topic is of such intense interest to me, I’m hoping that some of you will feel the same way, and I want to make sure I’m sharing as much detail as I captured. And because this one is so extensive, I’m going to publish this post separately, finishing up the other Day #2 sessions in another post. (They’re all shorter, by the way.)

P.S. I entered Separation of Faith¬†again today in the latest Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) competition, which began accepting entries today. Last year the book made the first cut.¬†We’ll see what happens this time around. If you’re interested, this is really a fun contest, and it’s free! Check out the details at: http://www.amazon.com/Breakthrough-Novel-Award-Books/b?ie=UTF8&node=332264011.

Hope your week is off to a good start! See you again soon.

 

 

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Imagine My Surprise!

The last thing I was expecting on Friday (which was also my birthday) was an envelope in the mail filled with a roll of award stickers to place on the covers of my Separation of Faith copies. Guess I’ve been a little distracted lately … ūüôā At any rate, when I saw the words “2011 Award Winner,” I immediately went in search of the specifics. And I soon learned that this amazing little novel has now placed as a Bronze winner in the 2011 Readers¬†Favorite Awards¬†in the category “Fiction–Realistic” (http://tinyurl.com/6hz6z77¬† ). (First¬†place continues to be¬†elusive–but¬†still possible!)¬†Every little bit of achievement¬†helps along this winding path–and I love the bonus award stickers!

Here’s a link directly to Amazon, in case¬†anyone is interested in checking out Separation of Faith (available in hard cover, soft cover, and Kindle) in more detail– http://tinyurl.com/6hqwgrj¬†. The story has an underlying mystery that¬†takes the reader on a suspense-filled ride¬†filled with illicit love, deception, hope, and redemption, with a plot twist no one ever sees coming! Please let me know if you decide to give the¬†novel a try!

Chemo/Hair Update

Friday I developed a reaction (like a sunburn on my chest, neck, and cheeks)¬†to one of the chemo drugs and was put¬†on Benadryl for two days. That, of course, made me feel sleepy and weird, but otherwise okay. And I’m much better today. Supposedly, the first week after the chemo is when the most¬†side effects¬†are likely to take place, so I’m learning as I go which of those effects will be mine during the three weeks between each of the six treatments. Fortunately, my doctors seem to have remedies for most of the issues, and I’m hopeful that we won’t have to worry about¬†too many of them.

Yesterday I had planned to have my hair taken off,¬†since I know¬†the whole¬†head’s worth will be gone shortly. But even though my daughter was with me in the hair salon where I’ve been going for eleven years, I wasn’t ready and couldn’t go through with the buzz cut. I did have two wigs shaped and styled, however,¬†and they look absolutely fabulous! So that gave me a boost of confidence for when my hair is gone. My guess is that I’ll get¬†my courage up for the buzz cut sometime this week. Once that happens, I’ll post a photo or two of me in my “new” hair, marking the first tangible point on this fresh journey-within-a-journey.

Meanwhile, ¬†tomorrow I will return to my Write-A-Thon¬†objectives and will update you on the progress shortly. Hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend!

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First let me tell you that I’m writing this post on my iPad, one of my least favorite things to do on this otherwise magical box. But when I returned home at eight o’clock tonight from this first marathon chemo day, there wasn’t any Internet connectivity in my apartment. My wireless connection is working fine, but I can’t get online. Too tired to try further diagnostics, especially after experiencing connections problems today at Sloan-Kettering in the “Chemotherapy Suite,” I decided to use the iPad.

The reasons I don’t like to do blog posts on my iPad begin with the popup keyboard, which is not designed for any sort of power typing. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who learned touch typing in school and who now feels a bit grumpy at being forced to use two fingers on the iPad keyboard. But this isn’t the only problem for me with respect to my blog posts. I like to put phrases in Bold to help blog readers skim the key elements of the post, and I also like to use Italics for emphasis. I’m sure there’s some way to do those things with the iPad, but I don’t know how yet because I assiduously avoid using the iPad for blogging–except on days like today when I promised a post and have no other equipment choice. (Thank goodness for 3G!)

At any rate … Today was long but incredibly uneventful. And given the history of the past seventeen months, “uneventful” was a happy surprise. My daughter and I arrived at Sloan-Kettering a little before eleven o’clock this morning (Thursday the 13th), and she brought me home at 8:00 tonight. The first three hours involved a mixture of tasks–vital signs, a lengthy consultation with my oncologist, then the IV insertion, which took place after Melissa and I had been led into my “private room,” an upscale and well-appointed version of a room in an ER.

The first thing that was delivered through the IV was a 15-minute infusion of Benadryl. This was on top of the five steroid pills I had to take on Wednesday night and the other five I took at 11:15 this morning. This is all designed to avoid, as much as possible, any chance of an allergic reaction to the chemo drugs.

The next infusion was a 45-minute bag of an anti-nausea drug, which was on top of the anti-nausea pill I took at 9:30 this morning. The purpose for all of that is self-explanatory and also deeply appreciated!

Bags of saline were periodically dripping through a separate tube throughout this whole preparatory process.

Once the preliminary infusions were complete, the first chemo drug (called carboplatin) was started. This is the drug that attacks and obliterates the DNA in any lingering cancer cells, and the infusion is very slow, over almost four hours. For the first hour of that drip, I was still a bit stupid and slurry from the Benadryl. But as those effects wore off, I was able to enjoy the lunch that Melissa and I ordered for delivery. We didn’t eat until almost four o’clock, and now we know that, in the future, we need to order when we first get into the chemo suite. (Novelists learn lessons similar to this as well when they do things like introduce a new character well into the story, only to realize that the rest of the entire book–and possibly some of the earlier chapters as well–needs to be reworked or even rewritten to accommodate the new character.)

Finally, about six o’clock, the carboplatin bag was empty. But before I could start the second chemo drug called taxol, which basically destroys the tubular structures within each lingering cancer cell–a structure that facilitates the cells’ uncontrollable, unchecked division and reproduction–I had to take three more steroid pills that guard further against allergic reactions. The taxol renders the cancer cells’ internal structure totally broken, destroyed, and useless–forever. And the infusion is very fast–six times faster than the carboplatin! The entire bag was empty in half an hour.

Then one nurse gave me a bunch of instructions for stuff to do at home, along with filled prescriptions for additional nausea pills. This nausea thing used to be a really big problem for chemo patients, so the medical community has worked incredibly hard to come up with solutions. And, so far, I feel great. But I also know what to do if I feel something unpleasant start up. Well, here’s the surprise lesson for the day: This is not a nausea caused by a flu bug or something, when eating is the last thing you’d want to do. Chemo nausea is caused by drugs. Consequently, eating a small amount of anything is supposed to make you feel better right away. If you don’t, you have pills at hand to help making riding the wave tolerable. This appears to be one of the greatest advances that helps chemo patients sustain their normal quality of life as much as possible during treatment. And, so far, I’m feeling great.

Another nurse then removed my IV (which had been inserted almost painlessly, by the way, by yet a different nurse at the start of the process), and Melissa and I were free to leave, with our five bags full of electronics equipment, reading material, my 26-day Write-A-Thon project, scarves, coats, etc. (Honestly, we looked like we were planning to stay until Sunday!) We walked the five short New York City blocks to the parking garage, and thanks to a small volume of fast-moving traffic, we were across the bridge at my place in New Jersey within half an hour.

Not much work was accomplished, I’m afraid, on my 26-day book project, although I think I remember trying to open the instruction book and operate a yellow push-button highlighter during my several goofy Benadryl hours. But now that I know the drill, I’ll be able to plan more effectively for the time that’s actually available during the five remaining 7+hour chemo stays.

AOver the next three weeks, I will learn how the cycle of the two chemo drugs will work on my body (and mind), and how I’m going to feel at the different stages within the three following the initial infusion. For example, there could be some leg aches and pains during days 4-6. Or there could be nothing. But if there is something, I have pills for that too. Then, in three weeks, I’ll return to Sloan on Thursday, November 3, for the second of six iinfusion marathon days.

By then, most of the unknowns that can be so scary will have be revealed. My current hair will be gon,e and the new variety will be rotated on my head, depending on my mood. Finally, the official start of my 26-Write-A-Thon will be at least three days behind me–and I’d sure better be hard at work.

Once again, the publishing and writing journeys are merging here, and all things imaginable remain possible. Writers and cancer patients must never stop believing in that imagination! We’ve all heard the saying paraphrased here, which invites us to believe that, if we can vividly visualize something happening, we can actually make that something happen. Plenty of hard work is required, though, because dreaming is the easy part.

Ah, but how sweet and magical are those dreams that inspire us, that light the fires beneath our passions, that carry us forward over and over again to publishing success–to cancer survival! And I’m here to report to new cancer patients, who might be a few steps behind me in the process, that I believe you’ll find the first chemo day not to be anywhere near as frightening as you’ve imagined, while you watch as many of those scary unknowns begin to fall away! I’m also here to tell new writers, who are circling around the start of their first books, that once you plant yourselves in a chair, I believe that the words will indeed begin to flow out of you. And different sorts of unknowns will begin to reveal themselves at an ever-increasing level of enjoyment for each of you.

In my next post, I’ll fill you in on one of the writing exercises in my Write-A-Thon’s “training period.” The exercise was obviously designed for writers. But today, as I was hooked up to infusion tubes for almost five hours, I saw how valuable the steps would be for cancer patients as well. So, stay tuned.

Meanwhile, have a wonderful fall weekend!

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No … This Isn’t About Me

Not yet, anyway. ūüôā The author’s name is John Locke (www.DonovanCreed.com). He’s a 60-something baby boomer with big dreams, sort of like me. But there’s a major difference. As of June 21, he has¬†self-published seven novels (Donovan Creed, the¬†detective, is a recurring character), plus two unusual western novels (by his own definition), and now a how-to book titled How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!¬†(http://www.amazon.com/Sold-Million-eBooks-Months-ebook/dp/B0056BMK6K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=books&qid=1309223049&sr=1-1). And those five months were all in 2011! Here’s the link to this week’s news about his historic accomplishment: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/47669-john-locke-hits-1-million-on-the-kindle.html

If you’re a struggling writer out there who’s just happened upon this blog, or if you’ve been following¬†this Journey since the blog launched on November 4, 2009, there won’t be any surprise in this news:¬†I purchased Locke’s How I Sold …¬†book for my Kindle within moments of reading two days ago about the man’s success.

Locke does not present himself as a great novelist–a refreshingly realistic perspective, especially since I’ve recently read a couple of best-selling novels, which were published through one of the big six mainstream traditional houses and which I could not believe ever saw the printed light of day. Locke does believe he’s a good writer, though, who’s become a better novelist over time as he’s crafted seven Donovan Creed stories for a relatively small, carefully defined,¬†“niche” audience (the “niche” being a key element of the “system” he presents in How I¬†Sold¬†…). And, even though I don’t think I fit into Locke’s description of that niche,¬†my curiosity was definitely piqued. So, a few minutes ago, I ordered two of his Creed novels–his earliest and his most recent, in order¬†to experience his writing growth. ūüôā¬†After all, the books are only¬†99 cents on Kindle (another key part of his “system”).

But the most important aspect of discovering Mr. Locke (for me, at least, and I suspect for a whole bunch of you as well) is that, until a few short months ago, he was in virtually¬†the same position¬†that I (and many of you) are in now–where we’re only selling a handful of books, despite back-¬†(and bank-) breaking¬†promotional efforts. He was languishing along with us in the ever-growing quicksand field of self-published authors, taking solace only in his unflagging determination and the encouraging legitimacy¬†conveyed by his readers.

One¬†significant difference between where he was and where I am was that his body of work is much larger than mine, due, as I learned at the end of his How I Sold …¬†book, to his goal of¬†completing a new novel every¬†eight weeks. In one of the messages I wrote to him after finishing his book, I suggested that,¬†whatever method(s) he uses to create¬†a novel every eight weeks¬†might be a great subject¬†for his next how-to book! I already know that I’m taking way too long per book, but I’ve been working with the goal of producing a book each year. The idea of cranking out six per year never even flickered through my head. In fact, I’d be happy with¬†a novel every six months. Would I buy a book by¬†Locke that explained¬†how¬†he creates a new novel every eight weeks? Especially since that book would undoubtedly be priced somewhere between 99 cents and $5? Well … let me think.

At any rate, in less than six months, John Locke went from selling dribbles of his books on Amazon and other sources to being the first self-published author (and only the fifth or sixth author of any kind) to break through the 1 million book level on Kindle.¬†And this wasn’t just by happenstance. He created a plan–a “system”–which he follows faithfully. And then, when his system actually worked consistently, he took a little time (a few¬†weeks, apparently) to write a book that captures that system for the rest of us, in case we’d like to give the concept a try.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do! I’ll use Locke’s system for the nonfiction work in progress, hopefully due out on eBook by early fall, and then again for my next novel (which I’ve decided will definitely be a sequel to Separation of Faith–http://tinyurl.com/3tljkpc).

“Isn’t that going to be sort of risky?” you might ask.

Au contraire! “What do I have to lose?” is the question circling around me. What would any of us risk losing, compared to where we are now?

Imagine this: thousands of self-published authors–even tens of thousands, perhaps–suddenly experiencing wild success through eBook sales! Sure would be hard to marginalize that statistic or question the validity of authorship when paired with such soaring numbers of happy readers!

I’ll definitely keep you posted on what happens–and please let me know if you give¬†Locke’s ideas a try yourself! From the beginning, I’ve been saying that there’s enough room in this dream for all of us!

Suddenly, the lyrics from an old boomer song by Buffalo Springfiled have begun rolling through my head: “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.”¬†That song spoke to a whole generation in the 1960s and early 70s¬†about huge and very serious changes taking place in the country. Although clearly on a lighter, much smaller, and far less dangerous scale, I do believe there’s a revolution underway in the publishing world today. And¬†I would like to be on the leading edge. How about you? ūüôā

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This week the publishing industry sizzled with the news that bestselling author Barry Eisler turned down a half million dollar advance from St. Martin’s Press for his latest book, in lieu of self-publishing the book.

“He did what?” you ask.

I know. For all of us “wannabes” out here, making a decision like that one sounds like pure insanity! And Eisler’s unprecedented choice has sparked animated dialogue across the world of writer discussion boards. He explains his reasoning in a fascinating conversation with his friend and fellow author Joe Konrath (http://barryeisler.blogspot.com/), which I highly recommend reading for any writer who’s chasing the Dream. (The conversation is quite long, but hanging in there will pay off with a ton of insightful information.)

Basically, and in a paraphrased nutshell, Eisler’s decision was based¬†upon his belief that signing away his ebook publishing rights would, in the long run, cost him a lot more money¬†than half a million. You can check out all of the¬†details behind this rationale yourself through the above link. But the point that loomed beyond all of the resultant noise in the publishing community was the burgeoning significance of the ebook technology when paired with the increasing relevance and acceptance of high quality self-published work.

Of course, none of those advancements would be possible without ereaders¬†(Kindle, Nook, etc.), and that’s what I want to talk about for a minute this morning. Given the fact that¬†I was a super-latecomer to the importance¬†of the social media world and the associated tools and technology, there will be little surprise in hearing that I was also¬†one of those¬†writers/readers who felt umbilically connected to the physical elements of books.¬†There was just “something” about the sensation of the cover and pages against my fingers, the smell of a book upon¬†opening for¬†the first time, the sense of satisfaction when¬†placing a book I’d finished¬†reading on my bookshelf, along with the dozens of others already crowded into that space.

Please don’t misunderstand and think that there was some sort of block in my head against advancements in technology. If you’ll search this blog site for “netbook,” you’ll come up with a number of posts where I wrote about the value of my “mini” and how the small size and portability enabled me to complete my second novel several months sooner than I’d anticipated. And last Christmas, when I received the glorious gift of an iPad, I thought I’d surely arrived in heaven. I also thought I’d solved the ereader¬†issue with the iPad after acquiring the Kindle app in conjunction with the iPad’s own bookshelf. What I would soon learn, however, is that the glory of the iPad is that it’s actually a full computer in a tiny, relatively inexpensive package. But it’s really quite large–heavy and combersome–when the screen¬†is being used to read¬†a book.

Consequently, when I (an author of two novels struggling to reach readers) was asked¬†if I owned a Kindle (or some other ereader), my typical response was, “No I don’t,¬†and I doubt that I ever will.” But I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with that answer¬†once both of my novels¬†became available on Kindle and the rest of the ereader options–and then especially ill at ease during a speaking engagement recently when several individuals in the audience began asking operational questions about the Kindle.¬†Many in that group believed that they had to own a computer in order to have a Kindle, and thank God I at least knew that wasn’t true. But beyond that point, I was an idiot.

So, for the sole reason of educating myself and no longer putting myself in the position of looking and sounding uninformed on such a critical element of my own professional field, I broke down and bought the newest Kindle (six-inch reading device with free wifi and 3G. (Go here to read about all the feature details: http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Wireless-Reading-Display-Generation/dp/B003FSUDM4/ref=sa_menu_kdp32.)

And then, within a week of receiving my Kindle, an amazing thing happened. I was converted as a reader. My resolute need for the tactile experience of feeling the paper¬†as the pages turned was replaced by the¬†fact that I was reading more.¬†My tiny little¬†Kindle fits in every handbag I own, without taking up space or adding any noticeable weight (at a mere 8.7 ounces). After needing an extra bag¬†to lug around the mega novel I’m currently reading (Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes–nearly 600 pages) while sitting in waiting rooms for a series of doctor appointments recently, I ordered that same¬†novel for my Kindle–ordered and paid for the book right on my Kindle, and within¬†a matter of seconds, the entire 600 pages had been downloaded and were ready to read. Now, a week later, I’ve read 67% of the book (according to my Kindle tracker).

And … I can read with one hand–that’s holding the Kindle and turning the pages, all with one hand–while scarcely feeling as if I’m holding anything at all. There’s no “power up” time. Just flip the switch to “wake up” the Kindle, and there’s your book. The pages turn with the gentle press of the page-turning¬†“bar.”¬†And if you turn the wifi off (which you don’t need to have on in the first place,¬†unless you’re buying something else from the Kindle Store), the battery charge will last for an entire month.

For some reason, I also seem to be reading faster. I don’t know if that’s because the font size can be adjusted up or down, or because reading has just become so completely effortless. But the number of words I’m reading per minute is definitely on the rise.

And now the stack of “real” books on my bedside table awaiting my attention will all soon benefit a local hospital or shelter, because each one is going to be on my Kindle very shortly. I can have about 3500 books on my Kindle, if I so desire, not to mention newspapers, magazines, games like Scrabble, card games, audio books, and more. And the fourteen books currently on my bedside table–retail prices ranging from $14 to $27, or an average of about $20–can all be brought into my Kindle for less than $100.¬†(This assumes, of course, that each of¬†the book’s publishers has been savvy enough to enable the ebook option.)

And someone–either the traditional publisher or the self-publishing author–is making a lot more money on the ebook version that the one in print. There’s virtually no distribution cost, and the royalty percentages are 2-3 times higher than print royalties. (Link to the Eisler-Konrath conversation earlier in this post for more specifics on the money end of ebooks and how that influenced Eisler’s decision to pass up the half million dollar advance. I don’t know. No matter what he says–and I do understand his perspective–I still sort of choke when saying that an author passed up that kind of money, whatever the reason. Plenty of controversy there, for sure!)

As sort of a shallow sidebar topic, there are all sorts of fun and extremely inexpensive accessories for the Kindle (and other ereaders) that allow each of us to personalize our reading devices. I fell for the Kindle cover with the built-in reading light. And the “bling¬†girl” in me went absolutely crazy for the protective and decorative “skins” offered by a company called DecalGirl. My Kindle is white, but I’ve dressed things up, as you’ll see in the pictures¬†included in this post. The “skins” are easily peeled off and saved for reuse to enable variety, and they really do¬†add a lot of pizzazz, if you’re into that sort of thing.

The most important part of the experience, though, is the reading. And because of my Kindle, I’m doing more¬†of that at a faster pace than ever before in my life. Gone with the Wind and hundreds of other books that same size can be with me at all times, enabling me to read whenever there’s even a five or ten minute period of dead time in a day.

Real books–the way they look, feel, and smell–will always¬†hold a special place in my life and heart. And my copies of many classics will remain on my bookshelves forever. But as a reader–and especially as a writer–I’m more excited about what I’m reading (the number of books I can get through in a month) than I ever dreamed I would be. For once, I’ll actually be able to¬†finish bestsellers while they’re still current. And no less important to me is the fact that the more I’m able to read, the more my¬†own writing will continue to improve.

So, if you’re one of those who’s starting to think about jumping into the world of ereaders, fear not! “Real” books will always be there for you to savor, no matter what you might hear being predicted. But if you’re looking for the sheer power and ability to get a lot of reading done, way beyond what you’re normally able to¬†accomplish, go ahead and make the leap! You won’t believe how much fun the reading world is in here!

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P.S. (after the original post): One of my blogging buddies (Jacqui at www.worddreams.wordpress.com) asked me about the setup, wondering if getting up and running is complicated. The answer is that the whole process is quite simple, and there are very few steps involved.

You need to charge your Kindle, which only takes a few hours. (I plugged it in to charge overnight, but the thing was fully charged before I went to sleep.)

Amazon will already have your account information for all purchases (books, magazines, newspapers, etc.),¬†unless you want to change a payment method. (You don’t need to worry about a shipping address, of course, because everything you buy will go directly to your Kindle in a matter of seconds!)

A very small booklet is enclosed in the Kindle package that introduces you to the operational buttons and the basics. And the list of Menu options on the Kindle screen is not very long. Exporing each one will lead you into the rest of the things you can do with your new little miracle device.

The most important part of the setup, though–buying and downloading your first book to read–will only take about two minutes–maybe even only one! You’ll spend most of your time¬†browsing through¬†the Kindle Store, going absolutely nuts over what is now available to you!

If you decide to enter the Kindle world, please let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience(s)!¬†

  

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