By Steve Weddle
“You know the big problem you’re going to have with your Kindle?” my wife asked me the other day.
I’d just finished ALREADY DEAD by Charlie Huston. Dang, what a nice book. I had to explain to people what I was reading. “Yeah, it’s a vampire book but it’s got great characters and all this plot and these factions and such cool science-tech stuff and it creates this world” etc, etc. The kind of talk in which people only hear the first part, then hang on to something there and don’t hear anything else you say. You know, like if you came home and said, “Yeah, honey, I was naked in a room with her, but it was because my clothes burned off while I was carrying the handicapped kids out of the burning orphanage” etc, etc.
So, anyway, one of the nice things about the Kindle is that people don’t see the cover. “Hey, Weddle. You make fun of vampire books. Now you’re reading one? Haha. You’re an asshat.”
When the Kindle first came out, some paper, let’s say it was the NY Times, did a story about how the uber-skanky romance novels were increasing in sales figures by a gazillion percent because folks could hide what they were reading.
Yeah, what you’re doing is reading in private, much more so than if you had that paperback with naked people and fat-fonted titles proclaiming your genre love. Ashamed to read “Star Wars: Attack of the Dark Sith Demon Spy Prophecy”? Read it on the Kindle. Penthouse letters? On the Kindle.
Which, sorta ties in to what my wife was saying about the problem I was going to have with my Kindle.
I’d had the Kindle for a couple of weeks when she’d mentioned that, but I’d been reading on the Kindle app for much longer. On my iPod Touch and on the new Blackberry. Nice little app with tons of books available. I’d read ebooks for years on the Palm Pilots and then the Zire and then the Palm Treo. So I knew a little something about reading ebooks.
The downside of the Kindle, and in almost all ebooks, is that you can’t pass them along when you’re done, as my wife had pointed out.
When I’m done with a book, I tell people how awesome it is. Unless it’s crap, of course. Then I tell them that.
I’ve loaned out GUN MONKEYS probably eight times. I doubt I’ll ever see my copy of WINDUP BIRD CHRONICLES, again. When the HOGDOGGIN hardback was accidentally $6 at Amazon, I picked up a few copies to hand off to folks. JT Ellison. Charlie Huston. If you come to my house (please don’t) you won’t know how much I love these books, because they’re not in our library. They’re out. I loan out a Nathan Singer book, then someone buys a couple more of his and sends one my way. Book sharing. A great way to learn about new-to-you authors.
And a big shortcoming on ebooks.
Amazon makes a big deal about how you can “share” your ebook among six devices. Uh, yeah, if they’re all your devices. If I own a Kindle and an iPod Touch and a Blackberry, which I do, I can read the same book on all three, syncing up wherever I leave off. That’s great, but it ain’t book sharing.
As is often the case, my wife is right. (Though, I think I should point out that last summer when she said I would break my fool neck if I tried to clean the gutters again in the same haphazard manner I devote to all my homeowner chores, well, I didn’t. So there. In absolutely no culture, past, present or future, is a broken elbow the same as a broken neck. So there’s one. It’s like 2,372 to 1, but still, it’s something.) So my wife is correct in seeing early on how much this is going to bug the hell out of me.
So when I read a book I like, I have to buy it for someone and mail it to them. Which, as my wife pointed out, is probably a good business model for Amazon.
A $20 hardback brand new can be passed around and resold used and account for at least seven or eight readers. An ebook is for one reader.
So, yeah, the Kindle is absolutely great for reading books.
Turns out, it’s pretty damn smart for selling books, too.