Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gun-Shy

My husband's birthday is coming up, and I want to get him/us a Kindle, but I'm having a hard time pulling the trigger. Every time I go to Amazon and put the darned thing in the cart I never do get around to checking out. And this hesitation is not for any of the usual reasons.

1. I'm not a paper-books-or-death! person. I love my paper books, but they don't work so well propped on Scott's elliptical machine, and I hate packing books to take on a trip. Kindle readers are not, as some imagine, book haters, but rather book lovers. Super-de-duper readers.

2. I'm not dying for an iPad. Apart from the occasional nonfiction book, where I wish I could click on a link for a painting or map discussed in the text, I read mostly your straight text book. A friend told me she likes how you can double-click on a word to look up the meaning, but I never look up the meaning for anything. If Scott is around, I'll ask him if he knows what it means, but otherwise I just keep on trucking. Also, the screen isn't pleasant for long-term reading. I've been trying to do THE THREE MUSKETEERS on my Kindle for iPhone, and I can't manage more than a few pages before my eyes get tired.

3. I'm not freaked out, as the publishing industry is, over the price wars for ebooks and whether or not every person down the line is being properly appreciated and compensated. As a self-published author I know Amazon takes a frightening 65% or so on each Kindle book sold, but since I don't have to pay anyone else out of my 35%, it works for me.

No, the real reason I haven't been able to hit the checkout is because I'm cheap. It's not the $259 price tag--I've accustomed myself to that--it's the cost of all the books! See, I don't generally buy books anymore, if I can help it. At least not new books. I think I've bought two undiscounted hardcovers in the last ten years, and one was a gift. The order for me is generally (1) the library, (2) the used book store, and (3) new. My book club even tries to stick to books that have been out a few years, so we can all hunt up used and library copies.

For next month we've chosen Jeannette Walls' HALF-BROKE HORSES, but even that is too recent. The library hold queue is too long and used copies still command a premium price. And yet I still wouldn't buy it on Kindle. Kindle asks $12.99 for the book, but the used copies go for $7.97. I don't want to pay $12.99 for a book I know I'll only read once.

Many will marvel about all the public domain books available for free, but even that doesn't tip the balance because they're mostly classics and lesser drivelings by famous people. Scott and I were both English majors. We already own physical copies of most of the classics and even some of the lesser drivelings.

All of which is to say, I'll buy the thing, but I'd love to hear thoughts from other Kindle owners and what their book-buying habits are. I'll buy the thing. Scott's birthday draws nearer and nearer. I'll buy the thing.

Maybe tomorrow.

5 comments:

  1. I got a Kindle for my birthday in November, and so far I love it. I share the same views as you, though, on purchasing books. Most of what I read still comes from the library. I've downloaded some free novels, but haven't purchased many yet. What I have been buying is non-fiction - books I would want to have on my shelf to refer back to later. I also splurged on a few books before a long trip (although I did still pack a couple of library books). The thing I love about it is being able to take it anywhere. I bought a new purse specifically so that my Kindle would fit. Now I always have something to read when I'm waiting in the pickup line at school or have 10 minutes before it's time to be somewhere. The one book I purchased that really seems worth the money to me was a Bible broken into daily readings. Each morning I turn on my Kindle, and the reading of the day is there. If I don't get to it first thing, it's with me for the rest of the day. That was $10 well spent. I also use the dictionary quite a bit. In the past, I would never have stopped to look up a word, but it's so quick and easy that I usually do it now. The Kindle won't ever completely replace paper books for me, but only because I'm cheap. One question - if you get it for "him/us", who gets to carry it around?

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  2. Woo-Hoo I made your blog! I was just looking at the KCLS site to see what they offer in ebooks. Looks like Half Broke Horses is not there, but some of our other book club reads are (The Historian, Under The Banner of Heaven). It looks like the ebooks are in formats (EPUB or PDF) that the Kindle and iPad SHOULD support. HOWEVER, they can't be read on Kindles or iPads as the ebooks contain a DRM (digital rights management) protection that Kindle and iPad can't read. The ebooks from KCLS can be read on a Nook or Sony reader.

    Just to muddy the waters a little...

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  3. I've been hankering after a Kindle for a couple of years, but my sensible, frugal husband continues to encourage me to wait. He likens the current flood of e-readers to the old days of VHS/BETA/LaserDisc times, when some of us just waited to see which format "won out" in the marketplace. Especially with the strength of the Nook and the expected strength of the Sony reader, yeah, I'm waiting another year, at least.

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  4. Interesting, Melissa and Nan, about the Kindle versus Nook and iPad. One difficulty with the Nook and iPad that I see for me as an author is that those platforms require my works to have an ISBN assigned to them, and an ISBN covers only one format of the work. So MBC's ISBN does not apply to the electronic form. In order for me to make it available on the Nook, I would have to pony up an additional $125. How many Nook copies would I have to sell to recover that? Lots. The iPad isn't so bad since there is a Kindle for iPad app, and they can just read it on there.

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  5. Hmm, very good thoughts about the e-book dilemma.

    Pro: Rich travels so much that for him the convenience of Kindle is a major pro. Lots of book in the space of one.

    Pro:Since he's a captive to airport bookstores the Kindle books save a few $$. No bookstore nearby? Still no problem to access Kindle.

    Pro: Unlike the iPhone or laptops, the Kindle screen is NOT backlit. This means you must have adequate light to read it, just like a paper page. Because of this there is less eye fatigue than on a backlit screen.

    Con: Passing on a good book to a friend is impossible, unless you share an account. So Rich and I can move books on our shared account between our Kindles (his the newest version, mine the hand-me-down which still works fine)

    Con: For footnoted books I have found the lack of page numbers an issue, as I can't go back to the place in the text where the footnote reference was. At least not on my early model Kindle. This is not an issue in novels, which is mostly what I read.

    Pro: I read MBC on my Kindle and enjoyed it a lot!!

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