7/14/2011

How to Have a Kindle without buying one (sort of)

As a librarian and a gatekeeper, I don’t buy self-published books for my library. Until now, the quality of self-published books has been not-so-great. Though we have over 100,000 items in our library collection, shelf space is limited, and growing more limited all the time. Thus we buy books, and will continue to buy books, only from good old New York publishers, the first gatekeeper who vets them for us.

However we are, I will admit, in a new Wild West of publishing. Some people are self-publishing e-books, building enormous writing platforms through which to sell them, and making lots of money. Then, some of those same people are selling those same books to traditional publishers for huge figures.

 Colleen Houck is one of many examples, and probably the best known example in children's books. You’ve probably read her success story, but in case you haven’t, I’ll post about it soon (probably tomorrow).

 But back to the Kindle itself, or e-readers in general, I’ve personally never had much interest in owning one. Though a librarian, I seldom read library copies of books (and I buy about $60,000 worth of books each year for my library). Instead, I like to OWN my own books. But why buy an electronic version of something, when I can buy the same book from one of Amazon’s many affiliates for a fraction of the cost? The e-books just aren’t discounted enough for (practical) me. Especially as I love the old technology—a book in my hands. The one place where I can see an e-reader as an advantage would be if I were taking a trip. I wouldn't need to pack a bunch of books.  

But in my blog reading lately, back to self-publishing, I was running across so many discussions on successful self-publishing, I decided I needed to check out this thing called e-books and e-book readers.

 I discovered I could go to Amazon and download what’s called Kindle for PC, for free. I now own the essence of a Kindle, which I downloaded to my netbook computer. The netbook’s screen is about the size of a Kindle. The difference, of course, is that there is also a keyboard. But who cares? I saved at least $139, and I still have most of the functionality of a Kindle. I can highlight, make notes, use the OED, change the font size and color, and have single or double columns (if I want to do any of that). It’s kinda fun, although it’s still not the way I want to read any book that I hope to fall in love while reading it.

 It's passable, though, for the nonfiction e-books that I bought. I'll be reading the following over the next week or so. Two by Kristen Lamb: Are you there, Blog, it's me, Writer, and We are not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media. I also bought Becoming an Indie Author by Zoe Winters and the one that someone told me I HAD to read, which was the e-book that started this whole new little adventure of mine, by John Locke: How I Sold a Million E-books in Three Months.

So here I am now with a free Kindle for my netbook PC, and my first introduction into e-books, e-readers and self-publishing.

I really have little interest in self-publishing, as you might guess, with my background as a librarian. But I'm aware also that I can't be a writer and not be as aware as possible of what's happening in the industry. Aware of what my options are as a writer ...

Do you own an e-reader? E-books? Are you thinking of going the self-publishing route?

If you want to try the Kindle for PC, it's fun, free, and worth the couple of minutes it takes to download it. You also get a Jane Austen book for free (Pride and Prejudice), and Aesop's Fables.

10 comments:

  1. This sounds really interesting. Does it work on most PC's and laptops?

    Have a great day.

    Melinda

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  2. Yes, Melinda, the app will work on all PCs, mobile phones and etc. Just go to Amazon and scroll down the left-hand column, drop down menues. Then select the download that is appropriate for your device. I have also downloaded it to my full-sized laptop, however that one's not as fun to read from. Still, it's a great way to try out e-books and e-readers for free.

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  3. i love my Kindle for PC. though i'm a self-publisher, i don't want to invest money in unknown self-pub authors, plus i can send them back through the Kindle program if i find they aren't what i expected.

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  4. i meant send back the books. sounds like i meant send back the authors. maybe some of them should be sent back. lol.

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  5. I'm a good ol' fashioned fellow, and am hesitant to jump the Kindle wagon. But I will say this: I recently got a new phone for work that has a kindle app. The app was free, and definitely not the reason I bought the phone. But I did try purchasing a few books for it. It was quite simple to set up and use. And while nothing will ever replace paper for me, sometimes it's nice to have something to read when I'm standing in the checkout line or waiting at the DMV. I don't think I'd drop $200 on a dedicated reader though.
    Good post - thanks!

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  6. I think there's a place for both e-readers and traditional books. As you say, e-readers are great for travelling (my husband has one, but I don't). However, for me a book is something to feel and hold and put on a shelf after it's been read; there's so much more to a book than just the text. I just love to own books, physically. So for now, I'll stick to the old-fashioned way. But in the future...who knows?

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  7. I have an iPhone, and access to the iBookstore, Kindle, and Nook books.
    Times are changing. And there are a lot of smaller publishers out there with great books. (I am with a small publisher.) The six big boys in NY do not hold all of the power anymore, especially as their reign is on the bookstores, which are dying.

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  8. I have the PC Kindle program. It's interesting, although I'm still not sold on the e-publishing thing either. On the other hand, the advantage for me is that I can live in South Africa AND get my books immediately. As supposed to waiting for weeks to get a book that might get lost in the mail.

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  9. This is interesting. This is very useful considering that electronic books have changed the public's reading habits, and millions worldwide now read books, magazines, and other content on handheld readers like Amazon's Kindle. Thank you!

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  10. I read mine on my Android phone. I thought it would be too tiny, but after reading my first book, I was hooked! Sometimes, thought, I get tired of all the electronics, and I have so many books. When we move, it's our books, bookshelves, and kitchenware that take up the bulk of it.

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