Thursday, May 6, 2010

Abandonment


They say writers have difficult families (the bastards. Who are 'they', anyway?). This time, alas, they're right. I've been abandoned. For a kindle.

It arrived at his work address two days ago, all sleek and seductive, and giving him that come-hither page turn flash. He hasn't taken his hands off it for more than a few minutes except for necessity (well, okay, I did get to play with it a little bit). Not only that, he used it to go online and - horrors! - buy books! Imagine it. No more sharing of books. He caresses that kindle as he turns the pages, I swear. And now he wants to buy it things. A leather jacket. Headphones. More books.

I am bereft, I tell you, utterly lost. I can hear the hardcopy books on our shelves weeping as I type.

There is only one answer to this terrible betrayal. I shall have to buy a kindle of my own!

38 comments:

Amanda Green said...

Hehehehehehehehehe.

Bwahahahahahahahahaha.

E-books capture another victim, er, fan.

;-p

C Kelsey said...

Insert obligatory iPad joke here.

Amanda Green said...

Kate, now that I've quit laughing and have had coffee so my brain is doing what it calls functioning, let me add this. I was pulling most of my e-books back onto my kindle last night in preparation for the software upgrade Amazon is rolling out. I knew I had amassed a lot of books since the end of September when my kindle came to live with me. What I hadn't realized was just how many. Right now, I have approximately 400 e-books on it. Of those, I already had a number of them, thanks to Baen's free library and CD-inserts. Others are classics that are out of copyright. More are freebies offered by publishers through Amazon to build interest in an author or series. Then there are the e-books I bought.

But what surprised me even more than the number of e-books I've amassed these last 7 months or so is the fact that it really hasn't impacted my purchasing of physical books. I still buy "real" books from those authors I follow. I also give a number of books as gifts during the course of a year. Where my purchases have changed is in the number of hard cover books I buy v. the number of soft cover ones. I now buy many more soft cover books than before for one reason, cost. Paying $25 - $30 for a book just isn't feasible in most instances any more. Sure, I could order from Amazon for less, but I still try to support my local bookstores. So, no deep discounts. And the cost of a hardcover book lies fully in the laps of the publishers.

Besides, my back doesn't hurt near as much carrying my kindle with me, complete with all its books, as it did carrying the two or three -- or six -- books I usually had with me pre-kindle.

Ed Bear said...

My Palm weighs five ounces, and I've frequently stored the equivalent of twenty POUNDS of books in it. Amanda's comment on back pain rings very true to me. A specialized book reader, on the other hand, is Just Another Damned Gadget To Carry Around. (Phone+Palm+BookReader). I like keeping the count at 2.

My eBook count, built since 2000 when Baen seduced me back into regular reading, is pushing five thousand (rough count). The only reason my eBook addiction is coming under control is that, as far as I can tell, the big publishers are trying to make their believe that "There's no real market for eBooks." into a self-fulfilling prophecy by raising prices and inconveniencing their customers with MORE DRM. When my pre-order of a book was canceled so the publisher could raise the price, I started to cut back seriously. No more buying entire book series on speculation, for example.

Avoid proprietary book readers such as the Kindle or Nook for just that reason. They're proprietary, and intended to put a DRM collar around your neck and link you to them and them only. You don't really OWN your eBooks until you can jailbreak them and back them up for reading on ANY hardware.

heteromeles said...

Drat, what Ed Bear posted just undermined my sneaky plan to win back your beloved's affection.

Well, here's the plan anyway. Give him more eBooks. Lots and lots more. Oodles. Digital tons. Make its DRM manager break into a cold sweat at each download. Force its memory to creak and scream for a tune-up. Bury him under so many choices that he can't figure out what to read.

Then, hand him a nice, fresh-smelling hardcover, just what he wants. No complexity, no choice paralysis. That would bring him back to you.

Then Ed wrote. Nice plan trashed. Oh well, on to reality.

What I am sure is that I don't get enough exercise, and that when I was in school I weighed much less, because I carried lots of books around with me, instead of sitting at a desk, looking at a computer, like I am now. Think of all the calories you can burn reading a book.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

AH! as with other people, I find the kindle experience claims another victim.

Ed, a few things:
first, I like the kindle for the way it looks/works. I can't read that long on a palm, since my eyes have all sorts of issues processing light. This nixes most computer-screen-like gadgets.

Proprietary formats... well... define proprietary formats. Yeah, sure, I buy a lot of books from Amazon because it's convenient. This is actually something going FOR the kindle because I bought a lot of books from Amazon before the kindle, and I find I don't need to change my habits.
DRM is optional, on the kindle or in any other format. Yeah, okay, so most publishers opt for it. Most publishers are running in circles screaming and shouting over ebooks. This is not exactly Amazon's fault, as they give you a choide to put it in or not (if you're a publisher.)
HOWEVER I buy books from a lot of other sites, too. Most sites carry kindle format, DRM or not, and almost all of them, including Guttenberg, carry rtf.
NOT ADVISING ANYONE TO DO THIS, but if you feel a strong necessity, there are a bunch of programs you cn use to deDRM your kindle files and save them in RTF or another format you know will always be around and be capable of converting your files into future formats.
I'm not a "wholly owned" subsidiary of the kindle, and if something better comes out, I'll probably upgrade, but for now, it is the best thing if you JUST want to read books, particularly if you are over forty or have any vision issues.

Kindle reading seems easier on the eyes than even real books, though it's so similar to "reading a real book" experience. (Particularly after you've bought the little leather jacket, Kate) that my biggest problem is when cycling back to paper book (because a novel doesn't exist in ebook or something) I will frantically look for the button to turn the page, before I remember the... er... more traditional technology.

Ed Bear said...

Sarah, I tried an eInk-based reader like the Kindle or Nook. One word: migraine. The "clean-page flash" took about ten minutes to fire it up, and I ended up wanting to kiss, without regard to my usual gender preferences, whoever discovered codeine.

And I buy nothing that isn't either open-format to begin with, or it can be made so by jailbreaking it. That's why I've been willing to build a big eBook collection in the first place. :)

I keep it all inside I-control-the-encryption encrypted backups on seven different drives in two physical locations. I take no chances on anything, whether it's the publishers or hardware failures, depriving me of my books.

Amanda Green said...

Ed, I'll try this again and, hopefully, my comment won't be eaten before it gets posted. Re: your comment about not wanting to carry around another gadget. I understand. I hate carrying around a lot of gadgets. That said, I also don't want to be reading and have my "reader" ring or pop up a text message, etc. Also, I'm not one of those folks with a cell phone super-glued to my hand, or my ear.

As for not buying a proprietary reader, sorry, but I have to disagree with you. Amazon doesn't tie you with DRM, the publishers do. If you don't believe me, check out the publishing contract Amazon has. Authors -- and publishers -- can opt not to put DRM onto their ebooks. So, any non-secured .pdf, .rtf, .mobi and any other format I can convert using Calibre of the like can be read on my kindle. Plus, I can import my current wip onto my kindle, highlight and annotate it and then sync it with my computer and work there as well.

I guess what I'm saying is we agree but also disagree on this issue.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Ed,

I don't know about the nook, never held one. But the kind has no page-refresh flash. None. It has no flash of any kind. It's not LIT.

As for DRM what Amanda said. Most publishers are convinced we're going to steal all their content if they don't lock it up.

As for gadgets -- I carry my phone, which does not take pictures (G) my camera if I'm going to need it (usually only vacations and only with kids.) my mp3 player if I'm going to travel on a plane or be away long. And my kindle. If it's a weekend and I can be expected to write (not often) I carry my eee. the Eee is the only one that takes my purse beyond its normal "weight limits." the kindle weighs less than the pbs I used to carry. For that matter, the eee weighs less than the laptop I used to tote.
We chose the distinct "gadgets" policy because it's cheaper. We use a small -- very small -- prepaid phone because it saves us hundreds of dollars a month. The separate camera is decent and we pass it around, since we're not a picture-intensive family. And the kindle is mine except when someone who needs his own steals it when he has to go to appointments or something. As for mp3s players each of us has one which IIRC cost us around twenty five each. They're just as good as your ipod (oh, maybe if I were a conaisseur or professional I'd think differently. I'm not.) and are about the size of a package of gum.
Again, even if I carried everything separate (and I rarelly carry everything at once) it would not be noticeable in my purse. Particularly since it displaces outdated paraphernalia like paper back books, a much larger cell phone (yeah, I remember!) and for airplanes a portable CD player.
We used to have a palm each. This is not a pissing contest. My husband loved his and -- with portable keyboard -- even wrote stories in it. I simply rarely used it (and never for reading) because I didn't like the screen.
Which I suppose is why there are different options for e-reading. Ain't choice great?

Anonymous said...

Hi, my name's Linda and I have a nook. 'Nuff said.

Actually not. I do love it. When I was younger, I used to re-read books, but now I simply don't have the time. The to-be-read virtual pile is so long that I'll never make it to the ones I want to read, much less the ones I've already read.

I've kept things simple so far. I haven't tried to download a book from another site and convert it or do anything past the normal download from BN and read. For now, this works for me. It also works for Steve who borrows it and Erica every now and then.

I will confess to disappointment that the books' discounts are getting fewer and farther between. I know some of this may be due to the publishers now setting the prices but I don't keep up with these things enough to know what's what with it. I've found that I can still get a decent discount on hardcovers, but the paperbacks are hardly ever in a decent discount anymore, no more than I could get walking into a bookstore and buying the hard copy.

Even though he can use my nook, Steve still mostly buys the physical books. I confess to turning to e-book mostly just because I only have time to read so many books and I can generally find enough books that I want in e-book format to keep myself busy. If there's one I can't wait for e-book on, I'll buy the physical book but that's rare these days. I figure that most books will eventually make it into e-book format. I compare it to waiting for the dvd version of a movie or the paperback of a hardback.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Linda,

Yeah, it's the publishers. Bad, bad, bad publishers (Rolls up newspaper [g])
Question, can the nook not purchase from Fictionwise? I've been exploring er... little known nooks of the publishing world on ficitonwise.

Ed Bear said...

Sarah, here's the list of the formats nook supports:

Load these popular formats for eBooks, graphics and audio from your computer or microSD card.
From Barnes & Noble,
Fictionwise & eReader

* EPUB
* PDB
* PDF

Other Sources

* EPUB (Non or Adobe DRM)
* PDB (Non DRM)
* PDF
* Graphics: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP
* Audio: MP3

Not Supported: DOC, LIT, TXT, AMZ (Amazon), LRZ/LRX (Sony)

The fact that plain text isn't supported surprised me. But fictionwise does make ePub available (I'm not sure whether they offer DRM-free ePubs, since I avoid ePub for fiction.), and the nook definitely handles ePub.

BTW, the Not Supported list, (other than TXT) are proprietary to competing electronic book reader manufacturers. Now you see why DRM is an abomination unto the Lord.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Ed,

Amen brother, on DRM. You won't get an argument from me on that. Now if we could convince publishers of this!

Chris McMahon said...

I'm yet to experience the ebook thing. I'd have to say being able to access backlists and other freebees does sound enticing. On the other hand I have little time to grapple with (yet more) technology. At the moment my fear of having to grapple with something that requires upgrades and fiddling is winning out.

Amanda Green said...

Chris, seeing as I'm sitting here, almost obsessively seeing if I've gotten the update YET from Amazon, I understand. Fortunately, the kindle almost always updates on its own, with no action required by me. That said, I will admit to grabbing the update off the site once posted if my kindle hasn't already updated.

As for the backlist, I love ebooks for that reason. Slowly, some of the publishers are starting to realize that releasing backlists at a reasonable price is a good way to increase interest in an author. Even more fortunately, imo, more and more authors are starting to release their backlists on their own or through author cooperatives. These are usually at even better prices and often have new material from the author. That's usually all I need to "encourage" me to buy the newly released backlist title.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

And if Kate doesn't mind my doing this on her post -- you don't mind, Kate, right? -- here is a free ebook.

http://cornerbooth.sarahahoyt.com/Download3.html

Kate said...

Amanda,

So it would seem. I'm being neglected ;-)

Kate said...

Chris K,

Adding ipads to kindling really isn't a good idea. One spark...

Kate said...

Amanda,

I once thought easy access to books = heaven. Then I started to read some of them. I may emerge from under my desk. One day.

Kate said...

Ed,

As others have said further down, Amazon isn't the only one to blame for this. At least they provide a reasonably easy way to get other people's (no DRM) stuff onto the kindle.

Some people can't handle eInk screens. Other people can't handle LCD screens. That's why it's nice to have a variety of different devices. One of the reasons hubby and resisted buying something for so long was that we wanted to be able to actually fiddle with the things and see how we liked them first.

Kate said...

heteromeles,

Good plan :) I'm sure I can do that even without DRM-crippled stuff.

Kate said...

Sarah,

The kindle experience has indeed made hubby a victi... er... loyal sla.... er happy customer. I suspect once he's got it it's protective leather jacket it will go with him everywhere.

Kate said...

Ed,

I like your backups of backups. I have my music on several different physical drives, and none of it is DRM-crippled - because it's all off CDs I own and ripped myself, cassettes I played into the computer and converted, or MP3s I bought from sites that don't lock the damn thing.

As far as multiple devices, there's a case in both directions. And if eInk gives you a migraine, well, it's good that there are non-eInk devices you can use.

The little time I've spent with it, I thik my biggest issue will be that there's no font small enough that I won't read faster than the kindle can refresh. I out-pace the scroll on computers, so it's not like that's a new issue.

Kate said...

Amanda,

Yep. Publishers are the ones insisting on DRM, often with a loud cheerleading squad of authors who think that someone reading their stuff without paying for it is more of a threat to their income than someone who's got no idea who they are.

Unfortunately, there isn't that much tech-savvy in the industry in general, so instead of doing what the erotica people did ("Oh, COOL. New market segment. People won't have to hide the covers!") they're freaking the same way Hollywood freaked over VCRs, and the RIAA freaked over cassettes, CD burners, all things internet....

Kate said...

Sarah,

There is a kind of a flash while the display refreshes. It's a lot less noticeable with the kindle than it is with the nook.

The Sony, we couldn't even figure out how to make it OPEN a book, so it failed before we got that far. Possibly it was just that the demo model wasn't merely "limited", it was dead. But dead demo models in a store that's been open less than a month isn't exactly encouraging either.

The key thing here is - as you say - lots of choices is good. More choices means more chance you'll find something that suits you.

Kate said...

Linda,

It's nice being able to carry enough books for a vacation in one little package. Now if we could just convince publishers that if they don't have printing, warehousing and shipping costs, they don't have to charge so much we might be getting somewhere.

On the other hand, I shudder to think what will happen when I have one and start buying ebooks. There goes the discretionary budget.

Kate said...

Sarah,

Why are you molesting that poor, innocent newspaper? What has it done to be threatened with publishers?

Kate said...

Ed,

No arguments about DRM. It's an abomination unto Nuggan (so is just about everything else, but that's neither here nor there)

The reason for not supporting plain text is probably the same as for not supporting competitors. ANYTHING can read text. No proprietary anything needed. They're betting on most people not being tech-savvy enough to realize that there are converters out there (Assuming no DRM, of course. I'm not going to recommend anything like Googling de-drm tools).

Kate said...

Chris M,

I've read a few on my - probably antique, by computer standards - old Clie PDA. It's wonderful being able to have what would be several pounds of books on one itty bitty piece of tech.

At the same time, Oz is on the wrong end of that oh so charming licensing restriction that makes it a right bitch to get stuff from the US even if you have the equipment. You know the one: the reason Oz never even saw a lot of US books, unless a UK publisher reprinted.

Kate said...

Amanda,

I thought you knew hitting refresh repeatedly doesn't make it arrive sooner?

(runs and hides)

Kate said...

Sarah,

Oh, heck no. Go right ahead.

Oh, that's right, you already did.

(Reminds self that starting a book on a work night is a bad, bad thing)

Amanda Green said...

Kate, it doesn't? I thought it worked just like hitting the button for the elevator to make it get there sooner and watching the water in the pot so it will boil faster.

;-p

Ed Bear said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ed Bear said...

I take it my last post was removed for Too Much Information?

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Ed,

Sorry, meant to explain -- more for "something that could render us liable in a court of law." Yeah, we know it's unlikely, but no use taking risks. For all I know these people might have illusions we're all terribly wealthy.

cedunkley said...

I've been looking into moving to an e-reader soon as I'm drowning in books. I came across this article about all the various e-readers out there.

http://blogs.pcmag.com/miller/2010/01/display_technology_ereader.php

I had no idea there were so many.

cedunkley said...

Hmmm, the URL got cut off. Let me try reposting it:

http://blogs.pcmag.com/miller/2010/01/display_technology_ereader.php

cedunkley said...

Hmmm, the URL got cut off. Let me try that again:

Click here

Maybe using code will let it work right?