Krazy for Kindle

I have hopped on the Kindle train, become Kindle-ized, joined the Kindle generation. In simpler terms, I got my first Kindle as an advance birthday gift (the big day is Thanksgiving if you’d like to send me a card).

Kindle

It’s the 3G Kindle model for $189. I got a thrill opening the box and finally holding the e-reader device in my eager hands. It came with a little booklet of instructions and a charging cable. The initial charge took an hour or so, then it was ready to go. I turned it on and followed the directions on registering my account. Then I read the manual on the Kindle itself. It also comes with embedded dictionaries. Instructions are easy and clear. My fingers had to get used to texting on the little buttons but the controls are quick to learn. I like the simple page turn button and the almost instantaneous speed with which it turns pages.

Then I emailed myself, at the address they specified, a pdf file I’d been saving on my computer of a romance novel. Oops, I’d sent it to my regular Kindle email account and got charged 30 cents. Now I read that you’re supposed to email the file as an attachment to your account name at free.kindle.com and put “convert” in the subject line. It’ll convert the file for free into Kindle formatting and download it to your device. I did this with a copy of Silver Serenade, my latest sci fi romance. Voila! It showed up on my Kindle!

I connected the Kindle to my home wireless network and activated my Twitter account. Now I’m ready to buy the list of books I’ve been accumulating on my Wish List. I’ll still read regular print books around the house, but I can’t wait to take my Kindle on a cruise.

The hunt is on again, this time for a cover. Fabric, leather, or canvas? Zippered or slip-in? Light or no light? Since I can read in bed at home with the lamp on, I don’t see the need for a reading light. And I’ll want a case that’s as lightweight as possible that fits in my purse. One reason why I never used my PDA was because the metal case made it too heavy. I’ll need to be able to stick this e-reader in my bag without weighing down my shoulder. The cases at Target are $29.99 and up. Cheaper ones exist online, but do I want to waste my time hunting one down? Oy, more choices.

THE E-BOOK CRAZE

The rise of the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, and the iPhone have fueled a revolution in publishing. More and more readers want to download their books in electronic formats. This brings up several issues for writers. First is the fear that ebooks will replace print books, and brick-and-mortar stores will become a thing of the past. How many people buy music CDs these days? Even libraries are involved in digital lending. About 5400 public libraries today offer e-books and digitally downloaded audio books. NetLibrary, a provider of e-books to libraries, has seen circulation rise 21% this year. I’m not saying books will disappear altogether; they’ll just change format. This affects income for writers since ebooks may sell at a lower price point than print editions. It involves issues of piracy as well as reversion of rights clauses.

E-rights are very important in publishing contracts these days, even for traditionally published authors. Many regular publishers are jumping on the bandwagon and putting out electronic versions of their print published works. Then there are ebook only publishers. Harlequin started Carina Press, a purely e-book venture. Those of us in the writing community have known about Samhain, The Wild Rose Press, Loose ID, and many other ebook pubs, for several years. But herein lies another problem: publisher recognition.

According to the standards of professional writing organizations, some of these publishers do not meet their criteria and are therefore not approved, meaning their authors are not eligible for published author status. This has been a growing point of contention among authors and a thorny issue. The well known ebook pubs have a selective policy and editors scour through manuscripts just like a traditional pub. Editing services are included so an author goes through a similar process as for a print pub. But certain qualifications demanded by professional organizations render these authors little better than self-pubs in status. For example, one writing org requires for recognition that a publisher pays an advance of at least $1000. This lets out many of the ebook pubs who offer no advance, just a royalty rate. Others may offer a small token advance . Some e-book publishers will offer the book as a POD (print-on-demand) as well, either simultaneously with electronic publication or later after certain sales quotas are met. But the profession organizations also demand that an approved publisher must have a print run and distribution of 1000 copies or more of each title they produce. This model doesn’t work for POD presses. How this will play out in the industry remains to be seen. Eventually, the professional writing organizations may have to rethink their definitions of acceptable publishers in lieu of the e-book explosion.

Royalty rates are another problem. For books that don’t have to be printed and stockpiled in warehouses, authors should be able to earn a higher royalty rate. For this reason, authors should carefully compare ebook publishing houses and e-rights clauses to know their options.

Some of these books may appear on bookstore shelves, but for the most part, readers have to order them online. Writers have to step up their Internet promotion and learn how to deal with booksellers who won’t work with ebooks or POD. But one thing is sure: writers who want to get their work in front of as many readers as possible will want their novel available in as a downloadable ebook.

Read more about this topic here:

E-Reads

Libraries article

NY Times articles

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