Buying habits (a Kindle / e-reader review)

by Toni McGee Causey

 

I own thousands of books. I’ve given away hundreds, probably, but there are books everywhere in this house, and a room doesn’t feel lived in, to me, if there aren’t books lying around. My idea of heaven would be a mountain cabin (in the summer), with a view and hundreds of books at my disposal. All through school, I read, constantly. I’d read through class (while listening, which infuriated the teachers, because I could answer their questions); I’d read in the evenings, and when it was time for bed, I’d read into the wee hours of the night until I heard my dad’s alarm go off. He had to be up at 3:30, sometimes, to get into work for his shift, so I’d turn off the light in my room, wait impatiently for him to get dressed for work and leave, and listen carefully as his truck pulled out of the driveway. I also learned the hard way to wait until his truck made it around the corner because it turned out, he could see the light from my window until he made the turn.

I love the smell of books. The texture. The weight of them in my hands. I love holding them at odd angles, propping them up on pillows, turning pages and blocking out the world. My heart races when I walk into the bookstore–so many possibilities there. The mind boggles. A large library can fill me with awe and I feel more reverence there than I ever have in any church.

So when this whole e-reader thing came along, I wasn’t interested. I saw a friend’s Kindle, and while it seemed convenient, I knew I’d never buy one because I would miss the actual experience of a book. 

Last year, my husband wanted to buy me a Kindle for my birthday, and I told him no, thanks, not interested. Then one day, on a flight home, the dreaded event happened: I was stuck in an airport, after all of the kiosks and shops had closed, and I had finished my book already. Nothing to read. Hours stretched ahead. Bored. To. Tears. 

I didn’t have a Kindle with me, but I had my iPhone, and the Kindle app was free and easy. I’d already surfed the web and that had grown old. So I downloaded the app, browsed around through the really awful Kindle browser, and picked something to try out. (I never use the browser feature on the Kindle, even now. It’s antiquated and slow.) 

And I started reading, fully prepared to hate the experience. Because it wasn’t a book. In my hands. There wasn’t the weight and the texture and the cover and I had to click something to turn the pages and… I actually forgot all of that as I started reading. Because the book was so compelling, I forgot the world out there, all of those things that distract, gone.

This shocked me.

And I felt dirty. Dirty rotten betrayer of all things holy.

But like any sinner with a gateway drug, I was too intrigued to let it go at just one. I tried another… and then realized the iPhone screen was just too small. I need more. Bigger. By Christmas, I had a Kindle, and Kindle apps on all my computers. Last week, I added the Kindle app to my Macs (finally), and it was goooooooood.

I am lusting after the iPad, but I will wait until the second or third generation. It’s hard to justify, just for pleasure when I’ve already got a Kindle and enough computers to have back ups for my back ups, but I want one. Badly. For one thing, the Kindle browsing feature sucks. Did I mention that already? Yeah. That bad. It just does not do the books justice, and doesn’t load quickly, and if you’re browsing, those are very important elements to sales: give the customer what they’re looking for, fast, and make it attractive. Kindle fails at this. I’m sure that since the iPad’s introduction, though, the next wave of Kindles will upgrade to color and will try to compete in that arena. 

What I am surprised about, mostly, is how my buying habits have changed. What I used to do is check out the books in the stores in the typical fashion–browse, pick up something that looked interesting (the cover caught my eye), read the back cover copy, then, if still intrigued, read a couple of pages and by that point, choose to buy it or put it back. I have bought many a book based on that scenario and ended up not finishing it because it didn’t live up to the initial pages. I’ve also been very pleasantly surprised by a few that grabbed me from their covers alone, and I love that feeling of chance when stopping in front of something I have never heard of because the image on the cover piqued my interest.

With the Kindle, though, I’ve started buying a lot differently. I still try to support my favorite indie bookstores — such as Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Mystery Lovers Bookshop, and Murder by the Book — just to name a few, because these are the types of places that give personal service and have reams and reams of knowledge in the staffs that cannot be found online. You can have a discussion with someone in any of these places about something that you loved, and come away with a stack of fabulous recommendations that you know you can trust because they’ve read the books–they’re not giving you a recommendation based on some sort of computer algorithm. However… there are times when I know what I want and it’s 2:30 a.m. and I want it right now. I love the Kindle for that aspect. There are other times when I don’t know what I want and I have a vague notion of category and I go search by keywords, and find four or five good possibilities. Those with sample chapters get downloaded. I’ll test run the chapter and if I’m captured by the end of that, I can download the book right then and keep reading. 

For a night owl read-a-holic, that’s nirvana. 

No more lugging six books in my check-on bag because I’m not quite sure what I’m going to want to read or what mood will strike me. No more buying something that kinda sorta sounded okay but turned out flat after just a few pages. 

I’ve relegated the “definite” buys to bookstores where possible. (And anywhere I sign, I always ask for recommendations from the staff and buy several books, because I believe in supporting those stores.) I’ve used the Kindle for the impulse buy, the late-night browsing, and the odd research text. I’ve purchased way more books on Kindle than I thought I would (65 in four months), and I’ve ended up reading real gems that I wouldn’t have given a chance in a bookstore, because either the cover was crappy, or it was so over-hyped, I thought I would hate it. I love the sample-chapter feature, though so many authors’ sites have these… what makes it so wonderful is the “click to buy to continue reading” feature.

The Kindle, as an interface? Is ugly. It feels like a Volkswagon in a Ferrari world. But I am now comfortable with the choices it gives me, and when I’m reading–if the book is good–I completely forget the medium that’s delivering the story. I love the fact that I can enlarge the text, and I hate the fact that it’s not backlit for night reading. 

One thing is for sure: it changed how I buy books. And read them.

For someone who is a bookaholic–that’s huge.

I know the debate will rage on about whether or not ereaders will increase readership or simply add another method whereby readers access the material. My gut feeling is that it’s always going to be really great stories that strike a chord that increases readership. Just like Harry Potter opened up the YA market to an entire generation who were deemed “non-readers” by so many, and Twilight continued to feed that group, so we’ve seen that same group branch out and hungrily grab for many other stories, propelling them to bestseller status. And it didn’t matter that these were print books–the computer generation read them. However, that said–it stands to reason that an entire generation who have been born into the iPhone world will expect, as they grow up, to read everything on some device instead of lugging books around. Many schools are going to all-digital texts. The world may not change in the next five years, but five years out is too short-sighted. It’s twenty years out, and thirty years out that publishers should be planning for, and those kids? They’re going to be all digital.

It’s not an “if” but a “when.”

So how about you? Have you tried an e-reader? Would you, if they were cheaper? What about the free apps? Have you tried those? What about the kids around you… what are they reading… texts? or digital? or both?

 

 

44 thoughts on “Buying habits (a Kindle / e-reader review)

  1. Mikaela

    I got a Sony PRS 505 for christmas, and I love it. My book buying habits have changed. I download more books, in different genres. And a big part of them are books that I wouldn’t have read otherwise. I still visit the bookstore, but not as often. Also, since I live in Sweden, the e-books costs 2-3 dollar less than the paper books. Or at least before April. Oh well. I can focus on books released before April ;).

    Reply
  2. kit

    Ms. Causey, you are a brat! LOL.
    It was 4:15 here, I woke up, unable to sleep, had a couple aches and pains..so decided to check the blog and FB.
    I’ve wanted to try the Kindle, but was gonna wait until the price went down a bit, lo and behold, can download it on PC….now, checking it out.
    I’ve been an avid reader for the past 45 years, stayed up all night, read by flashlight,read in class(only I would put my books in the textbook, and come up for air dazed, no idea what was happening in class.)In college,used to drive car down by the river and read, so as not to be bothered(pre-cell phone days.)
    And my fantasy as a kid? to be locked in a library over the weekend. As it was, one of my brothers worked road construction, would give me money to wash his clothes at the laundermat…just kept sticking money into the dryer to eek out the time.
    So on a Saturday morning, instead of helping my mom, I would turn his clothes into one helluva mess while I read.

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  3. Maribeth

    The only reasons I have for waiting is that I always until the hype dies down and the kinks get worked out.

    There are several reasons for making the purchase though:
    1) Downsizing from house to an apartment.
    2) The unfortunate closing of bookstores.
    3) The choices offered in the Big Box Stores.
    4) Downsizing of our local library due to economy

    Kids around me are reading more which is great. I don’t see many readers yet but actual books and phones abound.

    The post was really informative and entertaining.

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  4. Karen in Ohio

    Toni, a fellow late-night readaholic here!

    My next purchase will be a netbook with Internet access of its own. Before my recent 16-day trip to South America I wanted to get one to take, and my husband talked me out of it, but I wish I hadn’t listened to him. I took four books and ran out of reading material. The other people who were supposed to be sharing books never did finish what they were reading, so scratch that brilliant idea. Fortunately I’d held back the thickest book to read on the long journey home.

    If I were to do this again I’d have the netbook, which would also allow me to tap into Wi-Fi anywhere and get email, instead of struggling with foreign keyboards (different in France from Spanish-speaking countries, and forget about Asian ones!), would have a browser in it, and is small enough to carry in nearly any hand luggage. And it has a rigid cover, which is a distinct advantage over the iPad, in my opinion. Plus, you could use the solitaire and freecell apps. Heh.

    I saw someone using an iPad in the Miami airport. The display is nice and bright, but I could also read what she was reading from several feet away. Not sure how I feel about that. Would I want everyone to know that my book was racy? On the plane to Chicago I sat next to a sweet little nine-year old British girl, finally on her family’s way home to London after being stuck in Orlando for an additional 10 days from their original two-week holiday. My Faye Kellerman book had some steamy parts and some funky language, so I held the book so she wouldn’t catch a glimpse of anything untoward. That would not have been possible with an iPad, or possibly even a netbook. Although my laptop screens are not so visible from the side. The iPad was very visible, as the display is like a very bright magazine. And it’s about the same size as a magazine, too. I was less impressed than I thought I would be.

    My two cents’ worth, Toni.

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  5. Allison Brennan

    Toni, I would be broke if I had access to instant books. Flat. Broke.

    That said, I will be getting an iPad. I’m waiting to hear more about the 3g (bugs, etc) and I might wait until the next release. I might not. I almost bought one on Friday (I want the 3g because the primary reason I want the iPad is not because of reading books, but because of the Internet capabilities, and I don’t want to have to sit in one place that has wi-fi.) My Verizon contract is up in two months and if I get an iPhone, there’s no reason to also get an iPad EXCEPT for books.

    I was skeptical about the size of the iPad (too big) until I played with it in the store (ahem) and realized it was the perfect size. My trainer has one and I played with that, too. I like the idea of a wireless keyboard (I already have one with my iMac and I can travel with it) and I like not having to bring my laptop on trips (I love my laptop, but if I’m just writing, there are text apps that would work great.) I don’t like Pages AT ALL for writing. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but I can’t get a second page. What’s with that? When I’m writing, I don’t want to have to press buttons to get a new page, but my text stops when I get to the bottom. (I know, someone will probably have the answer.)

    But ultimately, if (when) I get the iPad, I’m certain I will download books. I won’t be able to help myself. I’m an addict. And if I like reading on the screen (I can not STAND to read on my computer. I have a couple ebooks, mostly non-fiction and short for research, and I. Hate. It. . . . ) I’ll likely buy MORE books.

    e-format will not replace print format, but it will, for me, supplement it. You can not take an iPad in the bathtub (I have dropped my books in the tub once or twice, and reading in the bath, drinking wine, is my single favorite guilty pleasure.)

    One thing I really don’t buy into is that kids are going to jump to e-books by leaps and bounds. They do so much on computers now–my kids high school has gone digital for their English and Science books; I believe history will be digital next year. They have to read on the computer all the time, or print out the pages. This is good (saving money for the school–and me because it’s a private school) but it’s also turning my kids away from the computer. My oldest only uses the computer for facebook, homework, and iTunes. My second uses it a lot more (browsing, YouTube, etc) and I will likely get her an iPad for Christmas. Kids will likely read more ebooks, but I don’t think it’s going to whoosh replace print books.

    Dohl (sp?) over at Random House had something interesting to say about ebooks. He said that when businesses make decisions because of fear, they make bad decisions (something like that.) He said there was five years before the digital world became a major factor to the bottom line. Ebook sales are still only 3-5% of all book purchases–thousands of times greater than five years ago, but still small to the bottom line. So he believes in taking the time to make a good business decision and not rush into anything. (I’ll see if I can find the article I read the other day.) I remember when my first book came out (2006) that people were predicting the end of print books within 3-5 years. That didn’t happen. I think Dohl has a point. If we (as authors) are going to survive as storytellers getting paid for the STORY we create, we need to be smart. Publishers care about the bottom line because that means they can nurture more authors. I want to say that the article was in the New Yorker or NYT. Anyway, Dohl made a lot of sense.

    So, to summarize, yes, I’m getting an iPad. Sometime. Soon.

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  6. PK the Bookeemonster

    I’ve got a Kindle and love it. I was at B&N yesterday and they are really pushing their Nook (and yes, I did buy some real books for myself and gifts for others).
    I read a lot and in the past I have worked my library over hard for the new releases. Last year while unemployed and counting nickles, it saved my sanity. At the end of 2009, three things happened that changed this habit. My library switched to a truly sucky state-wide computer catalog system, I got a job, and I got the Kindle for Christmas. I can only say this has to be benefiting the publisher because I’m buying several books every month now, a majority through the Kindle.
    I love the convenience of pre-ordering and having the book there that morning (saves gas!). I love having the samples — that is the biggest element that makes me buy a book — having an excerpt to see if the voice of the author is one for me. Covers attract my attention sometimes, titles, the author’s name, the "concept" of the story, etc., it is the words that make or break it for me. I’m reading many genres of fiction and non-fiction on it. I’ve encountered new authors that I wouldn’t have tried before because I was able to indulge in the impulse then and there. I could go on and on …
    I think I shared this previously but here it is again: I showed my Kindle to a 23-year-old co-worker who said "I WANT one!" THAT’s the way to get the younger generation who encounter most of their world through screens to read more. There’s not a whole lot of e-reader devices here in my town yet that I’ve seen, but I think that will change.
    And I don’t know why it seems we always have to put the caveat but here it is: I love "real" books, I’ll never give them up, etc., etc., this is just another form of accessing the story like audiobooks, and it will never take away from the "real" thing.

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  7. Louise Ure

    I haven’t gone full-frontal iPad yet, but I do have emergency books downloaded to my iPhone, so it’s only a matter of time. Yeah, that iPhone app is definitely a gateway drug.

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  8. Jami Davenport

    As an IT professional by day, and writer by night and weekend, I have to admit that I have avoided buying an e-reader for one good reason: I read in the bathtub. Well, I found several waterproof covers being offered for people who prefer to do their reading while soaking in the tub. So I’m just about in the market for a reader. Now, I have to pick out which one.

    Thanks for your article. I really enjoyed it, and it’s interesting how your buying habits changed. i know I’d read a lot more small press books if I had one. These books can be just as good as any published in NY, but they often don’t fit in a NY niche.

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  9. Zoรซ Sharp

    Hi Toni

    I’m afraid I’m a real Luddite when it comes to this new technology. I like a book I can feel and turn the pages and check back and forth as I’m reading. And if I run out of stuff to read, I’ve always got a notepad and a pencil, so I can work instead.

    Fascinating stuff, though, and I know I’ll come round to it eventually, just as I held out for a long against getting sat-nav for the car.

    I’m viewing the iPad with distant interest. I can’t help but wonder if that exposed screen will end up scratched to all hell and back , and if my iPod experience is anything to go by (it was supposed to be ‘intuitive’ to use – Argh!) it will cause me endless frustration…

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  10. pari noskin taichert

    I HATED the idea of e-books for such a long time, but . . .

    I’ve come around. Haven’t used any e-readers yet but I’m certain I will in the next couple of years. I am waiting until the readers are much less expensive because we just can’t afford an indulgence like this when we know the price will come down in a couple of generations of the product. I think I’ll always be a book-in-the-hand kind of person, will always love the tactile experience of holding and smelling them, but e-books will make trips and doctor’s apts. much easier.

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  11. Eika

    As somebody from the Harry Potter generation, and the Twilight one as well (though, honestly? Before there was hype, I picked up the first book and put it back because it was boring. No Twilight for me), I have to say it’ll never be all e-book.

    There’s a couple very simple and easy reasons why:
    One, it hurts your eyes. Amount of time you can spend reading a book before your eyes hurt can be essentially all day. On computers, or other things with screens, it’s lowered to two-three hours. Not having backlit screens may increase that time, but it also has eyestrain to see it, so it’d probably work out the same.
    Two, as my eye doctor has kindly reminded me, unless I stop spending so much dang time staring at the computer screen/etc. screen, my eyes will continue to get worse. I do regular exercises, and take breaks, to keep my eyes in good health, and my prescription keeps getting stronger anyway.

    I’ll admit, I haven’t bought a kindle or e-reader yet, but I used to read an awful lot of fanfiction, and still read quite a lot of stuff online (free book download from the author? I’m there!). I adore it for classes, because I can just search for whatever I’m having trouble with, but all my professors make me print it out anyway, so I can highlight and underline and make notes in the margin (which I don’t think e-readers let you do yet). That won’t change.

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  12. Lynn LaFleur

    Love my Kindle! I have 63 books loaded on it right now with room for hundreds more. It’s light and easy to hold and so easy to use. I love how the iPhone app for the Kindle will pick up the book right where I left off reading so I don’t lose my place. I still buy print books (hardbacks from my favs), but most of my book buying is now ebooks.

    I’m a huge Mac fan and salivate every time I see an ad for the iPad, but I decided to wait for the second generation.

    Lynn

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  13. Barbie

    Toni!!!! I read through class, too, all the time. I can always answer their questions as well. I remember in 10th grade I’d read so much through class even the teachers asked me where was my book when I didn’t have one with me. No one was ever infuriated by it, I guess. I mostly just very sweetly explained to them that if I didn’t have something to hold my attention, the minute they started speaking my mind wandered off and they’d lose me right there, because that’s how my mind works. They’re mostly okay with it, I just have to pet their egos and say it’s not personal against them ๐Ÿ™‚

    Kindle = essential. Of course, I didn’t have one until the end of last year, but, really, it changed my life. Living in Brazil and only reading books in English can be exhausting to a person. I can never find the books I want *here*, so, I’d have to buy them online. Then, it takes about a month for them to get here and shipping is often more expensive than the books themselves. Buying a new release meant feeling left out when everyone else was talking about it, because it was an "old" release by the time it got here ๐Ÿ™ Of course, I could read on the computer, which I have many, many times, and I have not a single problem with it — but — I have a desktop, and I hate my laptop, so, carrying books around wasn’t exactly practical. And, then, they make this amazing device, in which I can have books from the US to Brazil in LESS THAN A MINUTE. FOR like, two bucks added to the price of the book; It’s like, teleport for books!! ๐Ÿ˜€ I had to pay 100% tax over it to have it come to Brazil, but, thanks to my father’s guilt for not having time for me, I could afford it (I mean, who needs time with dad when you have a Kindle???)

    I don’t really care about the smell of a book or the feel of a book in my hands, and I will never understand why it makes a difference for some people. And anyone that knows me knows my huge love for books and how saying that doesn’t mean I don’t read. It’s the story that matters to me, the characters, the laughs and the tears they bring me, the tension, the joy, the awwws, everything they bring me. I could read books written in napkins if I had to. If something, the Kindle is more practical to hold than a book because I don’t have to hold it open, it’s just a flat screen (Yeah, Toni, I don’t really like "holding the book at odd angles" as you put it). What I mean is, I don’t care about the means, I just want to read books.

    I want an iPad, but not for books. I want a little 3G computer which will be easily hidden in class and I can tweet without the professor seeing me. What I like about the Kindle is its one functionality, because if I could do something else with it, I’d just get distracted. I have the attention spam of a chipmunk! ๐Ÿ™‚

    And, Toni, I’m LOVING, LOVING, LOVING Bobbie Faye!!!! โ™ฅ

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  14. Barbie

    Karen in Ohio, I totally agree with foreign keyboards. It’s hard to adjust. Spanish speaking keyboards are SO confusing to me, and it took me forever to get used to the English speaking keyboard when I was in the US. I love my little Portuguese speaking keyboard!!!

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  15. Jane Bierce

    I had one of the early (’98) Rocket e-Books and wore the poor thing out. There was nothing that really could replace it. As an author, I want to read, but I am visually impaired. I can barely read the font that I am writing this post in. I’ve decided that I HAVE TO HAVE one of the new gadgets.

    Next to size of font, I need capacity. I need my whole Bible on it. (the Rocket would hold the Old Testament or the New Testament, but not both!)

    I’ve seen an I-Pad — afreind has one and it looked good.

    Are there any better suggestions?

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  16. Judy Griffith Gill

    Thanks for an interesting, informative blog post. I do a lot of reading on my netbook and my HP iPaq, having moved on from the original Rocket e-readers. I’ve seen Kindle, Sony, and iPad and will probably buy the Sony if/when I do get another dedicated e-reader because they offer many formats as opposed to the Kindle, and the prices are lower than the iPad offerings since "Agency.Model" came into being.

    I have a few of my own books up on Kindle, and one on Smashwords, hoping that when the major breakthrough comes (and I believe it will) I’ll at least have a presence in both venues along with what I’ve made available through Awe-Struck e-books and Belgrave House, both of whom sell my backlist titles on FictionWise and from their own sites. I’m also buying up digital editions of my old favorite authors as they become available because I reread books and have worn out nearly all my Heinleins and McCaffereys. I’ve begun buying and hoarding books from Audible.com for the time when my eyesight finally gives out as a result of too many childhood nights of eyestrain reading under the covers with a flashlight.

    And for those who love to say "Why do you want it backlit? It’s a BOOK for Pete’s sake," I say, "It’s also an electronic device so why not add a backlight feature?" That way, I won’t need a flashlight under the covers.

    Judy

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  17. Lourdes

    I have a Kindle, but have only downloaded one book so far. It’s great for airplanes, but I find I still much prefer to read a book at home.

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  18. Kalen Hughes

    I used to spend my lunch hours browsing for books at the B.Dalton around the corner from my office. Then it closed. So I walked a few blocks more to the Crown. Then it closed. So I walked a few blocks more to the big independent . . . then it closed. There is now not a single book store within walking distance of my office in downtown San Francisco (ok, there is one, but they don’t carry romance). There’s a big something-or-other in Union Square, but it takes so long to get there and back that I have no time to browse (which was the whole freaken point).

    I didn’t leave the book store, the book store left me. So I bought a CyBook and now I spend my lunch hour browsing review sites and shopping for eBooks. And I read a heck of a lot more. How great is it when a book looks good, but it’s book three in a series, and I can just buy all three books with a click rather than having to place a special order? Heaven!

    And for air travel, nothing beats it. Nothing.

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  19. Fran

    Thanks for the shout-out for SMB, Toni! We love you too!

    I suppose some day I’ll get an e-reader of some stripe but not today. Or tomorrow.

    I think they’ll be god-sends for college students if textbooks ever get put on them, though, and I can see the value for late night compulsion and travel.

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  20. toni mcgee causey

    kit, I am cracking up — I am definitely a brat. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I am loving this conversation — I hope it keeps going. I’m checking in and reading and enjoying everyone’s perspectives on what ereaders have (or haven’t) done for them. It’s amazing how quickly our lives have changed from just five years ago. Hard to image the level of innovation that we’ll see five years from now.

    Virtual books? Jacking into the computer? How long before a Matrix like world? (kidding) (sort of)

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  21. Mark Terry

    I’ve read a couple books on the Kindle app on my iPhone–far better than expected, although not preferred. Works when I’m waiting around in the car for something & don’t have a book with me.

    We have an iPad and I haven’t read a book on it yet–can barely wrestle it out of my kids’ hands, & I bought it primarily for my wife, who uses it constantly. There’s a great magazine app for the iPad and it’s absolutely fantastic. I expect to be buying another iPad in the near future, ie., probably sometime this year.

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  22. Fiona McGier

    I feel like a partial Luddite. I agree with what Giles said on the old Buffie the Vampire Slayer series, when he explained to the witch he was dating who worked in the computer lab why he disliked computers. He said it was "the smell". She pointed out that computers don’t have a smell, and he said, "Exactly. Knowledge is supposed to smell of paper and ink, of dust and of age." I am sitting here typing on my laptop, while 3 levels of shelves surround me, and they are mostly filled with my books. I was an English major, specialized in the teaching of writing, and if I could get a job, I’d be an English teacher. Books, reading them, writing them, are my life!
    But that being said, I write all of my erotic romance novels on my laptop, and I am e-published. My publisher does have a POD option, which I choose because many of my friends/relatives have no experience with or knowledge of e-readers.
    So I read paperbacks, but my books are e-books. I have found that it is easier to get publishers to take a chance on an unknown in e-publishing, and you still get an excellent editor, but you also have your choice of covers (no white blonds on my covers, if the novel is about a black woman!), and you get more of a say in whether or not you make the suggested changes.
    My 2 cents’ worth, which, because I’m an English major, is more like a coupla bucks! <g>

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  23. Mo

    I’ve had my Kindle for 2 years now and I freakin’ love it. I travel for work and it is so much easier to pack than a dozen paper books. And I don’t have to decide ahead of time what I will be in the mood to read. I buy more books fron a wider range of authors than ever before. I love that more and more authors back lists are becoming available making therm easier to find and they get the money instead of a used bookstore. And as you said, if the story is good the medium disappears and the story is all I see.

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  24. Karen in Ohio

    Not only are the "foreign" keyboards confusing, but they’re also not consistent. At our hotel in Quito there were four computers, and three different kinds of keyboard! Every one used a different system to create the @ sign, which was necessary for checking my email. What a source of frustration that was.

    Reply
  25. Becky LeJeune

    I’m with Allison — I’d be even more broke than I am now if I had an ereader.

    I’m sticking to my physical books. I’ll be the final holdout, I think, where ereaders are concerned. I had a brief moment during our last move where I had to admit that I have WAY too many books to continue to lug around from house to house. But then I cam to my senses. The collection continues to grow and I love seeing the spines on the shelves!

    Reply
  26. Zoรซ Sharp

    Just a query here because I note comments from various people about ereaders being ideal for air travel. I especially like to read during taxi – especially at busy airports when you can sit on the tarmac for ages, going nowhere – as well as during take-off and landing.

    Isn’t that just the time when everybody’s told to switch off all electronic devices? What happens then?

    Reply
  27. Alafair Burke

    I have a kindle that I mostly just use for travel and manuscripts. I’m getting an iPad too.

    Reply
  28. BCB

    Toni, my experience very closely parallels yours. Except I don’t have an iPhone and haven’t bought a Kindle. I don’t do much traveling and my commute is about four minutes, so I’m happy with just the Kindle version on my MacBook. It’s a choice between buy an ereader or buy more books. And yes, I’m buying more books from new-to-me authors, because once you buy something Amazon pops up that oh so helpful screen saying, "if you like that, you’ll love this!"

    The one thing I really hate about the Kindle is that I can ONLY buy books from Amazon. I didn’t even have an account with Amazon until I downloaded Kindle. So I’m thinking I should check out the Nook so at least my money would go to a bookstore. But what I really want is a reader that will let me buy books everywhere. It would be awesome if Indie’s sold ebooks — really, they should figure out a way to do that. Or if I could buy ebooks directly from each publisher, if not directly from each author. I don’t know why I feel this way, but I hate it that a chunk of my money is going to Amazon.

    My daughter is graduating from college this month and has had precious little time for reading anything other than textbooks. It’ll be interesting to see whether she makes the switch to ebooks. Her opinion right now is that she already spends too much time staring at a screen.

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  29. Tom

    It seems to me you have to know how your work will look in electronic form, for Kindle and for iPad and all others. An author needs to have friends ‘on lots of platforms.’

    Reply
  30. toni mcgee causey

    Zoรซ — so far, I haven’t had to wait long on the tarmac with all electronic items off, ’til we’re in the air. That is definitely annoying, though, because they do make you turn them off during take-off and landing.

    Reply
  31. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I’m still holding out, Toni. I, too, have thousands of books spilling off hundreds of surfaces, and I love the smell and feel of every book I touch and smell. Some day I’ll reach for a Kindle or something of that sort, but not today.

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  32. Cathleen Ross

    Thanks for this interesting article. I was fascinated by the way your reading habits changed. I’ve just bought an iphone and I love it because I can read on it. I wonder as I get more addicted if I’ll buy an ipad next.
    Best
    Cathleen Ross

    Reply
  33. Marianne Oliva

    I’ve had a Sony ebook reader for years, and just got a Kindle…LOVE IT! I must say the iPad is interesting, but I’ll wait awhile before trying that…make sure all the "bugs" are dealt with.
    Instant books on a Kindle in a size font of my choosing is what I want!

    Reply
  34. Pauline Baird Jones

    I’ve been reading ebooks since 1999. Like some, bought a rocket eBook and loved it. Now own a kindle. Last I looked I had 223 items (some are samples waiting for me to decide whether to buy or delete, others are books I’ve already read, but I still have a "healthy" TBR "pile" waiting for me. )

    A couple of points. The eInk reading screen of the Sony, Kindle and Nook is wonderful. It’s more crisp and readable, IMHO, than paper. I also find I get less eye strain because its NOT like a computer screen. I can tell the difference between several hours of reading paper and several hours reading on my Kindle. It is the closest to a book-like experience you can get and doesn’t have back lighting because it uses ambient light–like a printed book.

    I like having books around me, too, but I also like having my TBR neatly "stacked" inside my kindle. My reading has tilted more and more to digital and less and less to print.

    What surprised me recently, I bought a book not available in digital and I was like, wow, I have to hold this open for the WHOLE book? How clunky! Then I wondered why I had ink on my hands and realized some of the ink from the cover and interior had smeared onto my hands. I’d forgotten print books sometimes do that.

    Someone asked me, should I get a kindle or a nook? i told them, other than minor stylistic differences, the basic features are the same: nice screen, download books wirelessly, lots of storage. I’d choose my device by where you shop. If you primarily shop at Amazon, why would you get a nook? Or vice versa.

    I’ve also been tempted by the iPad, but find it ironic that the app I’d use for reading would be Kindle for iPad or eReader, not their iBooks. Its not getting rave reviews, nor is the iBookstore getting high marks. I daresay it will eventually catch up with the others, but I keep hearing Steve Jobs saying, "No one reads anymore" before the launch of the iPhone. He wouldn’t be interested in digital books if app developers hadn’t stepped into the breach and created eReader, Stanza, etc. and proved there was a market there (a market created by indie publishers for the last 13 years, btw).

    One thing I find very frustrating is that publishers don’t seem to get that readers who have invested in a reader ARE extremely interested in having the OPTION of buying digital. Delaying releases, pricing structures, enhanced content, all these tactics don’t take into account, IMHO, their customers. While they may sell to book distributors, in the end the reader is their customer.

    When competing for MY attention, I am interested in: good story, digital option and reasonable price. It’s not rocket science, particularly during an economic downturn. Just recently, I’ve passed on several books that I might have purchased, because they weren’t available in digital. As previously noted, I have plenty of reading material, but as an avid reader, I’m open to purchasing new content IF I can get it in the format I want.

    Reply
  35. Ed Marrow

    We have 2 Nooks now. My wife got me one for Christmas, and I got her one because she kept taking mine. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love it, and haven’t bought a paperback this year.

    When I started editing my WIP, I formatted it as PDF and copied it to the Nook. I was able to read it without printing out 400 pages.

    For me, an iPad would never work. I work in IT and after staring at a computer screen all day, my eyes are tired. The iPad’s screen is backlit like a regular monitor. The headache isn’t worth it.

    Reply
  36. Jordan Summers

    I started out with an old RCA ebook reader. I’ve had it (still do) for over ten years. I love it because it’s back-lit. Dh picked up a Kindle the second it came out and fell in love with it. Like you, I read at night, so it didn’t really do me any good unless I wanted to hook a light up to it. Wasn’t interested. Then I got an iPhone for X-mas. I realized I could use dh’s account to browse Kindle books. I’ve left it to where I can’t buy them directly, since I haven’t opened my own account yet. (Having access to his account is dangerous enough. *ggg*) I do find myself checking out books I wouldn’t have looked at otherwise. I’ve even bought several after reading the first few chapters. We pre-ordered the iPad when it became available. So far, we haven’t missed the 3G, but I’m sure there will be times when we’re over in Europe that will be a problem. I thought the iPad would be a cool night reading device–and it is, but it’s also so much more. I now answer a ton of emails on it, read comics, the news, and play games. I can’t believe how much fun this little machine is and how many things it can do. I don’t have a laptop, so I’m using it in that capacity, too. If you think the iPhone is addictive with its Kindle apps, just wait until you get your hands on an iPad.

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  37. Delle Jacobs

    Think of it like a good looking man. You love his body, but you really love his soul. The soul of a book is its content. How the book is delivered is like the body. Make of that what you will.

    I’ve been writing and reading ebooks for over ten years, so my response may be counted as biased. But I can’t use an ereader well because of eye problems. I must have higher contrast and be able to manipulate the font better. I’ve always just read on my laptop. A very large number of people do, but we’re not glitzy enough to catch much public attention like Kindle and iPad people are. Now I own a "baby" laptop- a netbook- and it goes everywhere with me, serving as both reader and computer. Weighs more, less battery life, but plenty for me, and has a beautiful, bright, colorful screen that I need. Furthermore, the first thing I see when I turn it on is a desktop display of my latest book cover. I use Kindle for PC a lot, but also read in PDF, RTF, LIT, EPUB- you name it, I have all the software so I can buy my books at any distributor. And I get FREE ebooks on Smashwords.com. Beat that!! But yes, I must also have my paper books. That body thing again.

    Reply
  38. Marie-Nicole Ryan

    I’ve had a Kindle for a little over 18months, and I buy 95% of my books using it. I only buy paper books for my mom and at friends’ signings. I’d love for the Kindle to have color, and I confess I miss the backlight, but it’s easier on the eyes.

    Reply
  39. Gwyn Ramsey

    Great article. I’m dragging my feet on the purchase of a kindle. I just hate giving into it. My house is also filled with books. They are like a security blanket. But, I know the digital age has been creeping up on all of us. So many items to buy. I love the tech age, but to give in to an e-reader or a kindle. . . I’ll have to think on this. Thanks for all the informaton and a great story.

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  40. Mo

    BCB – You are not limited to buying from Amazon for you Kindle. I buy from a number if different online bookstores. The kindle will read MobiPocket (.prc) format, just download the book to your computer, plug in your kindle and move the file over. Also, you can download MobiPocket Creater for free from their web site and use it to convert a number of non-DRM formats (.pdf, .doc, html) to the .prc format that the Kindle will read. About a third of my kindle books are not from Amazon.

    Reply
  41. focus factor

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  42. Linda C. McCabe

    I love my iPad.

    It is fabulous. You can read ebooks on it and you can listen to podcasts as well.

    I did not spring for the 3G version because I do not need to read my email 24/7. Nor do I have to buy a book when I am away from home. I could simply jot a note on the notebook portion and buy it later.

    More and more sites are going to make their ebooks iPad compatible, so you will not have to depend on Apple’s pricing decisions nor Amazon.com’s strongarmed tactics.

    The clarity is fabulous. This makes picture books for kids as beautiful as the paper originals and it also allows you to have nonfiction books with color photographs appear as they were intended.

    Plus, there will be some fabulous innovations for books that are only beginning to take shape. Check out this video for an illustrated "Alice in Wonderland" for the iPad. (I tried adding a link, but it didn’t work well. Just go to Youtube and look for "Alice for the iPad." I downloaded the Lite version, showed it to my son and then decided to splurge and buy the book.

    This *is* the future of publishing. Why wait for a second generation iPad, the one now is realllly cool.

    As for editing, I recently downloaded the iAnnotate app for my iPad. Then I used my Mac to change a friend’s writing sample into a PDF and I was able to jot down my feedback for him. Later I synced my iPad to my Mac and was able to email the annotated sample back to him. A little cumbersome, but it was easy to do for me on the portable device.

    I LOVE MY IPAD.

    Reply
  43. Rose18Marion

    Some time before, I did need to buy a good house for my corporation but I did not have enough cash and could not order anything. Thank God my father suggested to try to take the credit loans at creditors. Hence, I did that and was satisfied with my student loan.

    Reply
  44. Jeremy Raglin

    Buying an e-reader is ideal for anyone who loves books. I especially like the Kindle DX because it has the capacity to hold over 3,000 books and is so much more than just an e-reader.

    Reply

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