My Kindle and Me

For Christmas last year, I received (from my awesome husband) an Amazon Kindle 2.   I wanted the Kindle over other e-readers primarily because the technology was better; although the Nook was running a heated race, I just didn’t feel that the product matched up to the Kindle in enough ways to justify buying it instead, regardless of the “wow” factors.

From Christmas Day on, I was in love with my Kindle.  Not only did it work like it was supposed to (always a bonus when you buy electronic gadgets), but I actually seemed to read faster on it!  It was awesome. I downloaded three books right away and had them all read within a week. That was tremendously fast for me, considering that I usually reserve reading for that 1/2 hour or hour before bed time, assuming I manage to make it to bed early enough to give myself such a luxury.

Then the Amazon scandal hit.  I was enroute to Boston during that time and it was critical for me to have something to read on those long flights.  John Scalzi was at the top of my list.  It was Friday, and I was leaving for Boston on Monday, and damn it all if the book I wanted to read next – John Scalzi’s The Ghost Brigades - was now delisted from Amazon.  What’s an eager reader to do?   I ended up downloading a dozen or so samples to keep me occupied during the 5 hour flight, and prayed desperately I’d have access to The Ghost Brigades upon arrival. The whole thing was rather annoying in more ways than one.  Had I known in advance that Amazon was going to delist books from its site, I would have bought Scalzi’s book ahead of time.  I suppose that was part of their agenda, though.

Somehow, we made it through that little episode.  Amazon, I forgive you, but please don’t pull a jackass stunt like that again.  Regardless of what the publishers had to do with it.

Today, my Kindle is still everything I wanted it to be.  Now that I can organize my items into folders, I can easily get some stats on my own reading progress. 

Specifically:

- I have downloaded 19 books and 4 short stories. 

- 6 books were free downloads, 4 short stories were free.  That means I paid retail price for 13 books, at anywhere between $6-$12 a piece.*

- Since January 1, I’ve read 8 books, 4 short stories, and I’m in the middle of my 9th book now.

- Interestingly enough, I have 7 books in my Science Fiction and 6 books in Fantasy & Spec Fic categories, with the rest falling under Historical (2), Romance (1), and Classic Works (3).  This indicates I divide my interests between Fantasy and Science Fiction fairly evenly, although when asked what genre I like to read, I almost always answer Fantasy fiction.

- I have 4 samples I liked well enough to put in the “To Buy” folder.  I have 9 samples “Waiting to be Read.”

* This averages to about paperback price, although I usually don’t pay full price for paperbacks.  My usual habit is to buy used paperbacks that run at about 50% off, trade-in enough books for credit at a used store, or check the library.  For me, the convenience of my Kindle makes spending full paper back price worth it.  And at roughly one to one and a half books per month, I’m not breaking my bank.

Conclusion:

While I still can’t get any book I want on the Kindle, more and more are coming available, and I’m ok with that.  My Kindle is super-light and travels well, making the days of lugging around paperbacks or hardbacks seem thankfully, very far away.  Wireless coverage where I live and where I’ve traveled has not been a problem and I can download a book in a few seconds, which satisfies my consumer need for convenience.  With Amazon’s latest software update I can organize my books as well as post snippets of the book I’m reading, along with commentary, to social networking sites.  This is an awesome, free promotional tool Amazon is giving authors; with social networking, word of mouth promotions reach more people than ever before.  Taking into account all the work authors do to promote their books, tools that let the reader quickly share the work with hundreds and possibly thousands of people are an invaluable help.

I think a digital market is a great avenue for writers to make sure they can get their book in anyone’s hands, anytime, anywhere.  Our world today is all about options – and being able to buy a book in digital format or print is an exciting and awesome option.

Something that I’d like to see Amazon come up with next:  A link to post a quick reviews/rating of a book directly to the book’s Amazon page.  This would make the convenience buying cycle complete; I download the book, I read the book, and then at the end I review and rate the book, which feeds back to Amazon.

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