Archive for the 'e-readers' Category

Book Purging

Jan. 3rd 2012

I moved into my studio apartment in May of 2008. When I made that move, I downsized my book collection. This past weekend, I took the next step: getting rid of all but a handful of books. Extreme? Maybe. Maybe not.

For the longest time, I’ve had this fantasy of living so simply that if I had to move all of a sudden or if I wanted to run away to Key West, I could pack up the car and the cat and just go. Even though this fantasy may never come to fruition, it’s still a comforting one for me to have (control issues, maybe? Leave me alone).

Thanks to my Nook, whatever book I want or need is just a click away. The few books I may keep — and I’m not even sure I will — are books that I re-read and that have some sentimental significance like Anne Lamott’s book for writers, Bird by Bird. I have a couple of signed books that I wouldn’t necessarily keep if they weren’t signed (but I kinda feel I have to).

I’ve filled a box full of books that I’ve read (around 50-ish), and I’ve lined my few remaining shelves with the books I haven’t read yet, but that I’m determined I will (I recently picked up The Memory Keeper’s Daughter as a result of this downsizing and simplifying urge).

Of these books, I don’t see myself wanting to keep any of them, no matter how good they are. Into the box they’ll go as I read them (except for the three that I’ve borrowed — Colleen and Dawn, if you’re reading this, don’t worry!).

And I’m not going to waste my time, either…if I can’t get into a book after 50 pages, into the box it will go. The only book that’s currently in the box that I haven’t read is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, which I’ve tried reading on three separate occasions over four years. It just ain’t happening for me. I’m sure this is a personal defect on my part.

Please don’t get me wrong: I love books. But the definition of a “book,” to me, isn’t the vessel that contains the words. Books mean stories. Some true. Some not. I can get those stories in one convenient place now and fuel my run-away fantasy at the same time.

How ’bout you? Have you downsized your book collection at all, or will you if/when you get a digital e-reader or tablet? Share in the comments.

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Three Firsts…

Sep. 1st 2011
  1. I told someone that my second novel is coming out in October. Here’s what he said (via email): “Will I be able to get it on my Nook? Or in store?” (Notice the order of those two phrases.)
  2. I was driving through the winding roads of my apartment complex, and I spotted a young woman walking up a hill, her attention completely focused on her Kindle.
  3. I’m reading Lolita, one of those classics I’d never gotten around to checking out. I bought it from Annie’s Book Stop, a wonderful indie bookstore that’s hosted my writers’ group for the last 6.5 years. The owner closed the shop this past weekend, and he’s had these amazing “everything must go” sales.” I bought Lolita for 50 cents. When I was reading it in bed the other night, sand poured out from between the pages (that’s a first for me…and not something that’s likely to happen with my Nook).

What interesting things have happened to you this week?

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Posted by Robyn | in e-readers, eBooks, Random | 4 Comments »

Kindle Singles. They’re What’s for Dinner.

Jan. 27th 2011

I was excited to see the Kindle Singles section of the store go live on Amazon with some heavy hitters, including one of my faves: Jodi Picoult.

I’m not happy about some of the comments I’ve seen floating around about Kindle Singles being for people with short attention spans. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Oh, where to begin? Let me count the ways…

Short stories are shorter, yes, than their novel cousins, but that makes them no less of a story any more than a short person is any less of a human being. In fact, you might be surprised at how many shorts you’re already familiar with, thanks to the silver screen: Stand by Me (based on Stephen King’s short “The Body”); Brokeback Mountain (based on a short by the same name by Annie Proulx); Million Dollar Baby (based on shorts by F.X. Toole); In The Gloaming, an HBO move based on the short by Alice Elliott Dark; A. I. Artificial Intelligence based on Brian Aldiss’s short story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long”; and countless others.

Shorts require careful, thoughtful reading. Every. Word. Matters. Yeah, every word should matter in a novel, but let me ask you this: have you ever skimmed through some pages of a novel, even ones you like? That’s harder — if not impossible — to do with a good short, where your mind needs to be alert and aware of every move, every word.

Short stories are not easier to construct simply because they’re shorter. In fact, some would claim that crafting a successful short story is even more challenging than a novel.  Annie Proulx used to have a website (anyone know why she gave it up?), and I recorded on another blog her answer to how long it took her to write Brokeback…she said (and again, I can’t find the original source, but you’ll find references to this quote if you Google it): “Roughly six months, about twice as long as it takes to write a novel.”

Short stories are immensely satisfying. And yeah, a good novel can be as well. But shorts are satisfying in a different way. Imagine getting all your satisfaction in one sitting — say on a commute to work — with a story that lingers with you for the rest of the day and makes you think. Ah heaven, methinks (even when you’re dealing with PITA clients. Not that I ever am. Ahem).

Shorts could inspire reluctant readers to read more or to read, period. Throw Moby Dick at a reluctant reader and, well, expect a big fail whale, my friends. (I mean, c’mon — they don’t even get ON the boat for well over 100 pages, right?) Give a kid a rockin good short story and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to show a kid the joy of reading a great tale. (And then get them to try Moby a little later, once they’re hooked. Ha! Hooked — get it?)

They’re a great way to experiment. Want to try a new author or genre? Consider Kindle Singles your Whitman’s Sampler. Try a new flavor of writer — if you like his or her shorts, upgrade to a novel.

And yeah, they’re cheaper. Nothing wrong with that. I sell my shorts for 99 cents (and $1 in the places that make me, like Scribd). I want eyeballs. The more the merrier.

So call Kindle Singles exciting, cheap, a ploy by Amazon to make more money (I have no problem with that — it is a business, after all), or the best thing since kitty YoutTube videos, but do NOT say they’re meant for people with short attention spans. And don’t insinuate they’re unworthy due to length.

Nerve struck, obviously. Open to thoughts in the comments!

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e-Reader Device Debate – Why I Chose a Nook

Oct. 12th 2010

Ready to hear my reason for choosing a Nook, B&N’s official e-reader? I’d like to say I did months of research and pored over reports and reviews. But here’s the truth.

I’d been thinking about the e-reader thing for a little while and simply decided to pull the trigger. I ordered a Kindle 2 (3G) on July 23, 2010. Why the Kindle? I think I’m a perfect example of how marketing can work. I felt familiar with the brand name, and I’m “comfortable” with Amazon. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with the e-reader most people had (or so it seemed to me).

I WAS VERY EXCITED. (It was an all-caps-shouting sort of excited.)

I tracked my shipment as it left the warehouse and traveled to PA and then CT and then Chelmsford, Mass., on July 26, 2010, where, sadly, it remains. I think. Or perhaps it has been resold on eBay or something. (I like to think that maybe my Kindle ran off with another package, perhaps a big, rich iPad that stole her heart away a la Toy Story).

The Amazon folks were happy to send me a replacement ASAP. The problem, as I reminded the customer service rep when I called on Thursday, July 29, 2010, was that Amazon had just announced it had sold out of its Kindles and that it wouldn’t be shipping the next generation until early September.

I didn’t want to wait. (Yes, I’m working on the patience thingy.)

A guy from my writers group has a Nook and loves it. So I called him, asked him some questions, and decided to go with that. In hindsight, I’m glad I did because I was able to waltz into Barnes & Noble (on Sunday, 8/1/10, for those keeping track), buy one, and have them set it up and give me the lay of the land. Also, you can go to B&N with your Nook and read any book for free for up to one hour a day. And there are special deals when you’re in store — special free downloads and discounts on books plus coupons for the cafes etc.

The only issue I’ve had with the Nook — which is a known issue and a software update will likely fix — is it occasionally freezes up. I need to try popping out the battery in the back because that fixed the issue for my friend’s Nook, but I need a teeny screwdriver and have been lazy about getting one.

I don’t really think you can go wrong with either a Kindle or Nook. If you have the bucks, an iPad would be nice, but I hear from friends who have iPads in addition to an e-reader like a Kindle, that the iPad is heavier and more unwieldy to carry around.

If you need more scientific research behind the dozens of e-readers already out there (Border’s has a $99 version) and the others that will show up before Christmas, follow The Digital Reader blog and browse the archives.

So what made you opt for your e-reader? Was it as scientific as my approach or…? Let me know in the comments.

You can also check out my Facebook page where I polled fans on what e-readers they chose and why (oh, and become a fan if you’re not already!) 🙂

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Posted by Robyn | in e-readers, iPads, Kindles, Nooks | 4 Comments »