Friday, 8 June 2012

My Kindle and I

A couple of days ago, one of my friends on Twitter asked me my opinion about Kindles, or ereaders in general; I promised to blog about it, so here we go.

Firstly, let me just point out that I am very much a 'book' person; I always have been, and I have no intention of disbanding my beloved collection of several thousand tomes. They comfort me in a way that I have difficulty describing. Their presence around our rooms is both soothing, and reassuring.

I had noticed Kindles around for quite some time, I'd even held one just before Christmas, thinking: Should I?, Shouldn't I? But alas, at the time I chose to stick with my paper books. I guess there is a traditional element to my thinking, at first these Kindles seemed like they were doing the dirty on 'printing'. So, I put it back on the shelf, walked out of the shop and dropped in to my favourite second hand bookshop in London (Any Amount of Books, Charing Cross Road. Amazing place). I always buy second hand books, even as a Kindle owner, I still buy them. I love the smell, the history, the passing down of information; and the fact that an old book can be as much of a story as what's written within it.

Then, during a tube journey, I looked around and counted eight people reading Kindles (or other ereaders, let's not give Amazon too much product placement in this blog) in my carriage. The temptation that I had dampened down before Christmas sprang up again. If there were so many people using these cute little devices, then they must be pretty good. As soon as I got home I surfed the Amazon and took a look. I was amazed, they are reasonably cheap, it's very easy to download books, plus there are lots of free books available for the Kindle. My mind was almost made up instantaneously! But then I delved a little further, the kinky minx in me wanted to see the erotica section. Oh, fuck. There were so many 'books' to choose from, and I noticed that many of them were self published. This set my curious little mind in action. I spent a few hours researching the intricacies of publishing on Kindle, and was surprised at the relative ease of doing so. My mind was all but made up to invest! However, I still had a few reservations, about my guilt towards the good, old paper books; seeing as I've got a colleague with a Kindle, I thought I would ask him.

He was like an Amazon salesman, I couldn't believe how positive he was about it, I told him my concerns, and he pointed out that he actually reads more with a Kindle, because he can take it everywhere. Now that was one of the deal-clinchers for me, the portability of my entire library meant that I could read whatever, wherever. Plus, there was the added bonus of being able to read smutty stories on public transport without the dirty looks. It was a deal. I placed my order, along with a beautiful lighted leather case.

In hindsight, I guess I should have spent the extra money for next-day delivery, as the four day wait on the standard option tried my nerves a little; I was so very impatient. But when it finally arrived, oh, what joy. The packaging is contemporary and beautiful, yet it makes you want to rip it open and get started. Which is what I did. I was stunned by the ease and speed of being able to download books in seconds, with just one click. Plus, the ability to buy them directly from my Kindle. It has actually been everywhere with me ever since, the size and weight is perfect for putting in any of my bags, and it even fits in the pocket of some of my winter jackets.

So, once I had explored my beautiful new friend, I went back to the erotica section, and the idea for 'Dirty Little Fuck Doll' was born. I had decided to make my Kindle pay for itself! Having been a writer for many years, I was inspired by this new way of publishing, and the ability to present my work directly to the readers, without needing to impress some archaic publisher. I set to work on my book, and then (skip forward the sixty-seven days it took to write and edit) uploaded it with relative ease.

One of the questions I was asked, was 'do ereaders harm writers and publishers?' Well, I can only see that the ability for writers to access their writers directly will enhance their careers, plus Amazon offer very favourable royalties on sales. At either thirty-five or seventy-five percent of the sale price, the rates from Amazon are much higher than writers would be offered from a traditional publisher. That said, there are no printing, marketing, editing or delivery costs to factor in. The important point out of that list for me is editing, there are a reasonable number of self-published books that would have clearly benefited from an editor. I feel very strongly that as independent writers, we must work hard to protect the integrity of self-publishing, by ensuring that our works are well written and free of grammatical or typing mistakes. Otherwise, customers may not feel confident choosing an independent title over one from an established publishing house. However, my attention to detail is so anal, that I usually find mistakes in most printed books.

Do Kindles harm publishers? Well the short answer is that they shouldn't. The ereader is now so developed and cemented in our culture that it is here to stay, I doubt that that point is up for debate. So, the Kindle shouldn't harm the publisher any more than the digital camera damaged the business of film. Companies must adapt to what their customers want and need, if they choose not to, then they only have themselves to blame when the administrators come knocking at their door. Although I would like to add that Amazon have very cleverly engineered themselves as the market leaders here, not only do they produce the biggest selling reader, they also dominate the market that distributes the media. You can only expect Amazon's market position to go from strength to strength because of this.

The upshot is, that my Kindle is probably my most treasured possession, I adore it in every way it is healthy to adore an inanimate object. Do I read more? Certainly. Do I write more? Absolutely. Do I read less paper books? Perhaps, but times change. I would recommend a Kindle to anybody, and of course, the first book you should read on it would be 'Dirty Little Fuck Doll'.

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