Tuesday 15 November 2011

Kindle anyone?

I have never a been huge fan of electronic book readers, despite my love of gadgets, as I love the feel and even the smell of a 'real' book. Six weeks ago, however, I succumbed and asked for a Kindle for my birthday and I have to confess that I love it!

This is the one I went for, a refurb Kindle Keyboard...

So what made me change my mind?

Back in May, my family and I went away for a bargain holiday - only a week in a Eurocamp tent in Spain - but we decided to try and manage just taking hand luggage only. Some feat when you have two children aged 4 and 2, the latter still being in nappies, I can tell you! Anyway, we did it with two trunkies containing all of the kids clothes and toys, a small suitcase and a holdall, phew!

A couple of months previous, I had installed the Kindle app on my Android phone and found it great for long car journeys. The choice of books was great, especially the freebies, so it was nice to have in addition to all my books and library books. So, just before we went away, I downloaded a load of e-books so that I could read whilst we were away, seeing as I didn't have the room to take any 'real' books with me in my itty-bitty suitcase. I actually read nine, yes nine!, books that week and was having to charge the battery on my phone a couple of times a day just to keep it going. We were lucky with the weather so I was able to sit out on a sun bed whilst the kids played, which was great, apart from the sun hitting my phone screen and making it very difficult to see the words - half the time I could only see my own reflection, hmphf!

And that was that, I was converted.

I now have over 300 books on my Kindle, and still have room for hundreds more, taking up hardly any space in my luggage at all whenever we go away for a weekend or longer. I've probably spent less than £30 on those 300-odd books and only a dozen of them are the free classics. Many are current titles or new releases on a promotion and I have discovered some brilliant authors that way too.

I can read in all light conditions thanks to the fantastic e-ink, so it really is like looking at paper, and then when it's dark I use my nifty little book lamp - after all, I wouldn't be able to read a paperback in the dark either and to have it backlit would miss the point of being easier on the eyes. It even syncs with my phone if I'm out without it and happen to read on my HTC so that I can switch between devices without having to keep scrolling through to find my place.

Books are instantly available without having to make a special trip to the shops or the library, or wait for it to be delivered in the post. It's great for following a series as you can get the next title immediately, rather than having to wait for the paperback version to come out (I'm not keen on hard backs) and you can also search by author or genre easily. You need a fair amount of willpower though as it can actually be TOO easy, and the 'buy now with one click' is a bit dangerous when there's something you really want but you need to wait until after payday.

I can also freely read anything without being caught out or quizzed or looked down upon, so I can be sat at my daughter's ballet lesson reading teen books or Mills & Boon or even erotica(!), without anyone - especially the book snobs - being any the wiser.

The only real negatives are that it's not possible to lend books to your friends; I am part of a small reading circle where we share our books between us but the e-books make that nigh on impossible unfortunately. I have noticed too, that sometimes the e-book price of a title is more than the actual hard copy even though there are no printing costs involved whereas I always figured an electronic version would be cheaper.

I doubt I'll ever go totally down the e-book route and replace my existing library, even though it would free up a lot of space, but I do believe that I have the best of both worlds instead. I still borrow books from the library, I still buy discounted books from the high street shops, but at the push of a button I can have virtually any book I want within a minute. Yay me!

So, switching hats, how do I feel about e-books as an aspiring author rather than an avid reader?

In short, it excites me!!

Here I am, busy working away on my first manuscript with a view to submitting to Mills & Boon. If that doesn't work out though, there's nothing stopping my from self-publishing and getting reviews and feedback on my writing from actual readers, whilst hopefully building a reputation for myself and gathering a bit of a following.

I have read books and series from a number of indie authors, including Sarra Cannon, Penelope Fletcher and Amanda Hocking that I wouldn't have discovered otherwise and I too, could be a part of that.

I love the idea of self-publishing my young adult trilogy, once it's written of course, and getting it straight to my target audience and cutting out the middle man.

It is also great for research purposes, getting my hands on books of a similar genre or for fact-finding, or just checking out what others are doing.

I want to be an author and, thanks to the likes of Kindle Direct Publishing, the world is now my oyster. Or rather it will be, if I get off here and crack on with my manuscript!

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