Monday, February 4, 2008


This past Christmas, my sweet husband surprised me with the gift of an Amazon Kindle (after a few well placed wish-list hints.) Now, five weeks into our "relationship," my Kindle and I have survived the dreaded getting-acquainted stage, and we are well on our way to becoming friends forever. I'm already trying to figure out how to insure its safety while I read from the back of our motorcycle once the riding season begins. I've got a few ideas--most of them incorporating strategically placed Velcro strips.

The things I love about this device far outweigh the not-so-great cons. Shall I count the ways?

Where I go, my TBR stack goes. The Kindle, which is about the size/weight of a mass-market paperback, has its own cellular wireless connection so I can shop at from my Kindle device and choose from over 90,000 book titles, or a variety of newspapers or magazine subscriptions. The most I've had to pay for a new release title is $9.99 (or as little as 2.50). Once I click "BUY" the book magically appears on my device in less than a minute. I can store about 200 books on the Kindle at one time. (Ssshhh. . .don't tell my husband, but I fear I'm well on my way to that number!) If that's not enough space, I can insert a memory card and add a few more hundred volumes. Or, I can choose to "park" my purchases at and move them back and forth to my Kindle as many times as I choose. Once I've made a purchase, the book is mine to keep.

I even carry my Kindle to church with me since I uploaded a Bible. Not only is it easy to search for the sermon's scripture text, I can also highlight passsages and add notes in the margins. (The Kindle came in a black leather case, so it doesn't call undue attention to itself in the church crowd.)

In addition to purchasing published books, I can e-mail Word documents to my Kindle through a private/individualized address or connect to my computer directly via a USB cable to upload the documents. This way, I can read incoming manuscripts without having to lug a stack of paper with me wherever I go. Again, it's not difficult to add comments or highlight sections I want to address with the author. With the press of a button, I can change the font size from standard- to large-print or several options in between. If I've left my reading glasses at the office, no problem. I just hitch the type size up a notch or two.

For marathon readers such as myself, I believe the Kindle can be a godsend--saving bookshelf space, eyestrain, and a book-bag-carrying aching back. If Amazon were to ask my opinion, I'd have a short list of improvements I'd like to see on the next model, but they'd have a cat-fight on their hands if they tried to take my Kindle away from me now.

I've heard a few publishing-type folks grouse about the future of paper-and-ink publishing should the Kindle revolutionize and popularize e-books. But, personally, I don't see the Kindle as a threat to traditionally published books but rather view it as a whole new avenue for expanding the marketability of our work. What do you think?


CHickey said...

To me...nothing beats holding that book in my hand, smelling the ink, feeling the binding.

Karen said...

I like holding a book too and I would worry that I'd get eye strain like I do on my computer. What is the screen like? Also, we travel alot. Is it something I'd have to take out separately like my computer to get through security?

Rhonda said...

Sounds like a great device Susan!! I think I'll check into it. I do love my books but think this would be a great travel buddy!!!!

The Write Life said...

Susan - from the editor's point of view, will we see Barbour books available on the Kindle list soon? Do you have any idea how that works? I'm sure I can find something to read out of 80,000 plus choices, but is there, or do you think there there will be, a lot of CBA titles to choose from?

Paige Dooly

Marcia Gruver said...

Gee thanks, Susan. The Kindle was the one gadget I thought I didn't need. Now I may have changed my mind. And my birthday's coming up, so I'll have to start right now dropping hints to hubby. I'll begin by reading him your post. :)

Mary Connealy said...

I've wondered about this, too. If I could take my overloaded book shelves and pack them all into one paperback sized book it would be so wonderful.
When I first read about Kindle I wondered if it would finally be the hand held reader device that might work.

Sort of related to this: Our local nursing home is book crazy and, strangely enough they just love mysteries. I asked the traveling library lady, she's from our church, if they'd like a subscription to HP Mysteries. I thought I might donate one. She said they're love it but small print is a real problem.
Kindle would solve that problem, but they'd need a lot of the devices.
Is there large print of any Barbour books? Or, like Paige asked, Kindle versions?

Becky said...

Barbour is looking into getting our books put into Kindle versions. We'll start with bestselling fiction books like Brunstetter's.

Eventually, creating a Kindle version will become part of our upfront publishing process, but it will take a while to get the backlist ready for Kindle.

There are already some CBA titles available. I know Thomas Nelson has some out there.

It is a gadget that tempts me, but do I really "need" it?

The Write Life said...

Thanks for the explanation on potential Barbour Kindle books, Becky.

And I agree with the question, do I need it? But it does look so cool! I'm just not sure I can justify the price, plus the cost to download books and for now, it doesn't look like there are a lot of books I'd buy off the shelf that are Kindle ready.

I also worry about technology and all the new versions that immediately come out on something like this lately.

But again, it sure does look fun.


Susan Downs said...

The Kindle "page" is designed to give the reader a book-reading feel. Using an ink-and-paper e-technology, it only draws from the power source when it is "turning" the page--hence, a charge will last four days or so if you have the "Whispernet" internet connection turned off. (Remember the Etch-O-Sketch? It's similar in that the screen goes black for a nano-second while it resets to the next page. The background is white and text black, like a book, and is not backlit, so as to avoid computer-type eye strain. It is surprising how quickly you lose yourself in the reading experience and the device fades away. With the leather cover, you still get that book-in-hand experience.
As far as technology advances for future editions go, the whole point of the device is to provide a low-tech experience with instant access and large storage capability. I'm sure there will be tweaks to various conveniences, but I personally don't think they can improve much on the basics.
I think it would be much easier to show one book-size to airport security than it is to lug my typical 20 pounds of books wherever I go.

The Write Life said...

I do love that you can adjust the print size. That's worth a lot in itself!

The kindle is an intriguing gadget to say the least.


Mary Connealy said...

Plus, you KNOW the price will come down, right? Soon?
TEchnology is amazing the way it starts expensive then gets very affordable.

So who knows, a year from now, it could start costing little more than a few hard cover books.

Crystal Laine Miller said...

I wasn't sure about this and this is GREAT seeing someone who is actually using it. I really like that feature of being able to take it with me with manuscripts sent to it. Can you edit on it?

Even so, I would like being able to read the manuscript, even if I'm jotting down stuff on a notebook.

My husband would love it if I would get rid of books in the house and this would be one way to do that. I'm putting it on my wish list.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

I've been wondering about the Kindle. Thanks for the first-hand info.

Can you download books to it from places other than Amazon?

In my an author, I feel it's one more outlet to market our books.

As a's less stress on my already-sagging shelves. LOL!

Cheryl Wyatt

Beth Goddard said...

I watched the Kindle video on Amazon. . .my eyes teared up. LOL. I want one! But it's way expensive. While I would never, ever get rid of all the beautiful books lining my bookshelves, the floor space around chairs and baseboards. . .I can see a huge advantage to having one of these, too. In fact, one problem I have is reading while we're driving at night. I haven't found a book light that works right yet. But the Kindle would solve this problem.


Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Thank you Susan and Becky for the information. I've wondered if I would like to have one of these. I probably won't get one this year, but it might not be too long before I do. I value the input from an actual, live user I know and can trust.

Nike.Chillemi said...

I knew Kindle was some type of devise for reading, but didn't understand how it worked. You've educated me.

It sounds rather nice.