The Amazing Kindle (and other e-readers)

Okay, so I finally broke down and bought Ardis a Kindle. With both of us being complete and unabashed bibliophiles, we were not so sure about reading anything off an electronic device. Even though we use computers all the time, it just did not seem like the thing to do. We like our books…

We were also wrestling with the idea of converting the books in our catalog into e-books to provide a broader offering to the readers. However, after initial investigation and discovery of some of the royalty schedules paid by e-book suppliers, we were not too thrilled about the idea of investing time and money into the process.

Last summer, Ardis spent the best of part of the season investigating and their Kindle. At the time, they were selling their electronic books for about $10, keeping 70 percent of the proceeds of the sale and paying 30 percent to the publishers/authors. We did not see an advantage to participating in their program the way they had it set up.

So, we went back to the idea of marketing our hard copy books. Then one of our client-authors started talking about the Kindle program again. We tried to explain what we had discovered in our research and then he explained things had changed. Recently. Real recently.

To which we said, “Huh?”

Sure enough, with the introduction of the IPad, along with a new business model for the payment of royalties, Steve Jobs changed the way all other e-book providers did business. In order to remain competitive in the e-book world, Amazon had to adapt.

Amazon reversed their pricing schedule and allowed lowered prices on their books. Now the e-book industry is really off and running.

Still, I was a little dubious. I like my books. I wondered what it would be like to read on a Kindle. At Christmas, I purchased one for Ardis and we went about exploring everything to know about this Kindle thing.

I was surprised and pleased.

When I was in the Navy, one of the things that took a lot of space in the cruise box were books you wanted to read while on cruise. For the soldiers in the field, the problem is worse. If you wanted to deploy with more than half a dozen titles, you were going to pay weight and space penalties.

With the Kindle, a serviceperson can download more than a couple of hundred titles into his or her device and all of those books weigh the same. The device takes up very little space also.

Reading on the Kindle was easier than I imagined. Ergonomically, the unit is a perfect fit for almost anyone. Buttons along each side take the reader forward or backward through the story.

I was really impressed and did not think I would be.

As much as I love books, I do see the industry moving in this direction for several reasons. First, there is no production, other than imagination and electronic work on computers. This is no printing, storage, distribution problems by truck or rail. For the consumer, this means easier shopping with convenient pay by credit card.

There is much to be attracted to with this little device; but I don’t want to give up my books completely. What I think is this: there is plenty of room in the world for both old-fashioned books, and new e-books.

The advantage for publishers and authors, of course, is offering both formats to the reading and buying public.


© 2011 J. Clark

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3 Responses to The Amazing Kindle (and other e-readers)

  1. midlifepilot says:

    I’ve been on a Kindle for about 6 months now Joe. I’ve got two-three hundred titles in it – enough reading for the next 10 years probably – and still loads and loads of space left. I use it to store PDF copies of relevant stuff for my flying study as well (aviation law etc.)

    I agree wholeheartedly with your view. There’s space for electronic and print. I think print will become a more niche – and higher priced – part of the publishing marketplace, but I don’t think it will go completely. And I have to say that, much as I loved my old library of hard-copy books, they created space problem in my small house that has been completely removed by the convenience of Kindle.

  2. Congrats on your purchase, Joe and Ardis! It is a fast-changing world, this digital reader market, and I wish you the best in it. I can’t wait to see what you guys learn!

  3. Joe Clark says:

    Hi Tyler, the next thing we are going to look into is the IPad–since it is more appropriate for color, we want to evaluate it in that role and in aviation (it is approved by the FAA for use as an electronic flight bag, or EFB). I think many magazines would do well in that format.

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