I broke down and bought an iPad.
I had planned to wait until HP came out with their version of a multi-purpose device because I’d seen a demo a few months ago and thought it looked cool. I thought I’d be a smart shopper and weigh the pros and cons of each. (Dedicated e-readers were already off the table because I wasn’t looking for a device only to read e-books and newspapers.)
Except, I have everything Mac and I really wanted the iPad.
There were two primary reasons I bought the iPad. First, I don’t have to get the iPhone because the iPad does everything else act as a telephone. I’m happy with Verizon, I really didn’t want to switch to AT&T, and why spend the money on a new phone when I really only talk to and text my kids, husband, and mom? I wanted the iPad to have a fast and easy way to check email, research, and write.
Which leads to the second primary reason: I no longer need to lug my laptop with me on trips. I have two trips this summer (Thrillerfest and RWA) and I always write while flying. Pages, Mac’s word processing software, has an app as well. It’s basic and easy to use and readily converts to word. (I don’t write with Pages on my iMac, because I know and love Word, but for my first draft I can write on anything.)
The best thing is that the iPad recognizes Bluetooth and syncs up with a wireless keyboard (or a keyboard dock, but I already have a wireless keyboard.) I don’t much like the idea of writing a book on a touch-keyboard—I type over 100 word a minute, and I can just imagine the errors! (I wear out keyboards in about a year—I’ve had my wireless keyboard for six months and already the letters are fading. I doubt the iPad was tested by someone who writes a million-plus words a year between books, revisions, blogs, emails . . . you get the picture.)
The other night, I tested the iPad by writing the prologue for my March book. While it’ll take me a bit to get used to (after writing how many books in Word?) it’s easy and functional. And if I can get out of the habit of editing as I go (which really slows me down) I can get my first down-and-dirty draft written faster so I can spend more time revising and editing. (I suppose this is what Alex would call my outline, right?)
I downloaded a couple games . . . crossword puzzles and Flight Control. Flight Control is hugely addicting . . . I don’t recommend that anyone buy it because you won’t be able to stop playing. The other night, when I was tired and ready for bed at two a.m., I sat down and played Flight Control for an hour . . . I haven’t had this much fun since I discovered Angry Birds for my iTouch.
And of course I downloaded iBooks. I bought DUEL by Richard Matheson, a collection of short stories, because I figured I have never read a book on an e-reader and should start with short reads. I started the first story, but . . .
It’s going to take me a long, long time to read books in anything but print. I couldn’t really get lost in the story. The outside world gets in . . . when I pick up a print book, I am lost in the book. I don’t see or hear what goes on around me, I’m totally immersed in the story, as if I were truly a fly on the wall of the book.
I’ve played with most dedicated e-readers, and the iPad is definitely easy on the eyes and simulates a book with font, page turning, and appearance. The font and the font size are adjustable, and browsing the bookstore is a pleasure (I did download a bunch of sample chapters—I can see me using this to read openings to decide which books to buy . . . in print.)
I won’t say I’ll NEVER read a book in e-format, because one of the nicest things about it is instant story—a minute or two to download a book I’m dying to read? I don’t have to wait 48 hours for shipment, or drive to the bookstore . . . but honestly, I’m not that lazy and instant gratification isn’t as pleasurable as anticipating and savoring something desirable.
Of course, it would be more of a pleasure if my books (Random House) were available through iBooks. But it’s only a matter of time. (As an aside, I’ve been reading articles where Markus Dohle, Chairman of Random House, talks about making major decisions about many things, including digital publishing. I think a cautious approach is smart—too many people, I believe, are in a semi-panic mode when I don’t think there’s any reason to fully panic about digital publishing. It’s like people think if they don’t act now, they’ll be behind . . . they want to be on the forefront of something . . . but aren’t really able to define what the “something” is. Panic can cause rash and unreasoned decisions, so while I am disappointed that my books are not available through the iBooks store, they can be bought through different apps and companies, and I do appreciate the serious contemplation as to whether the agency model is, in fact, the best model for publishing today, as well as a reasoned approach to digital publishing that will benefit the industry—both publishers and authors.)
But the coolest thing about this week isn’t my iPad, but my app—Ballantine created an iPhone app for me! I’m absolutely thrilled with it, and am looking for ways to value-add to the content. Possibly original short stories (like the ghost story available on my web page) or reader letters . . . but right now there’s already a lot on the app. My books and excerpts are there, tweets (now I really have to get into twitter . . . I much prefer Facebook) and signing up for my newsletter. It’s all great . . . I just with I had more time to work on it. If you’d like the free app, you can download it on iTunes, or here.
Any ideas are welcome . . . would you download a free app for your favorite authors? Why or why not? The app is designed to give more information and excerpts, will let readers know when a new book is available or when there’s new content. What would you want to see on an author’s app? How often would you want it updated? Only when there’s a new release or between releases?
Ultimately, no matter how fancy technology gets, no matter what happens with e-books or print books or iPhone apps or added content . . . readers read for the story. They want to be entertained. Whether to laugh or cry, be scared or contemplative or educated or simply escape for a few hours, readers read books for the story. And the story—the writing—is what us authors should spend most of our time developing.
Because without the story, none of the bells and whistles matter.
BSP: CARNAL SIN, book two of my Seven Deadly Sins series, will be released on Tuesday! So . . . download my app and read a chapter, or read here.
I also have a book trailer for the series, only 42 seconds … it’s not up on YouTube yet, but here’s a link on my website. Enjoy!
(I’m out at a Father’s Day BBQ with family in the mountains. I don’t know yet whether I’ll have Internet reception, but I’ll be back tonight if I don’t!)