Jilly: Eight Years of Kindle

According to various articles I’ve read on the interwebs this week, the Kindle was ten years old on 19 November 2017. I’m in the UK, where we didn’t get to join the party until a couple of years later, but still. Only eight years! Feels like a lifetime.

It’s the season for counting our blessings, and while the invention of the Kindle is by no means the best thing that’s ever happened to me, it transformed my reading life and I am exceedingly grateful for it. Here’s why:

I can buy books by authors I never could find in my local bookstores.
Even though I live in a capital city (London), I always struggled to track down books by authors I wanted to read—mostly fantasy and romance authors, often American. Even five years ago a very well-informed publishing industry figure told me at a conference that writers like Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips ‘don’t sell’ in the UK. I have no idea how true that was, but I’m glad I don’t have to rely on publishers to make that decision for me anymore.

Kindle opened up the world of publishing to indie authors and enabled them to connect directly with a readership.
The explosion of indie publishing means writers can take a risk on all kinds of niche genres that would never suit a mainstream publishing house. It has led to wider choice for readers (in the old world I’d surely never have read The Last Hour of Gann), free books, box sets, and all kinds of price promotions.

I can take my whole library with me when I travel.
In the past, when my husband and I went on a trip, packing was a nightmare. We’d have one suitcase for clothes and one for books. Those were my fall-back choices. I’m a fast reader, so I’d buy another four or so at the airport based on whatever the bookshop wanted to sell me and leave those on the plane as I finished them.

I can keep my whole library in more than one place at once.
On a Kindle in my handbag (purse), and on another one at home, or the Kindle app on my iPad. No more transferring the book from handbag to sofa and forgetting to put it back in my bag the next day.

As long as there’s a phone signal or WiFi, I’ll always be able to buy a book.
I used to travel a lot, and I’d always research bookstore locations before I left so that I knew where my next novel was coming from. No longer. I remember the day I bought a book while sitting in a hot tub on the balcony of a hotel room on Vancouver Island. For me it was a greater luxury than champagne, flowers, chocolates, or silk sheets.

The book buying experience is immediate.
Before Kindle, if I found a stash of good US romance novels in my local Borders, I’d buy six or eight at a time because I never knew when I’d be able to top up my supply. I still have a TBR collection, but now it’s from choice rather than necessity.

I can upload my manuscripts, and those of my friends.
A simple email to the device, and Kindle will convert and upload my Word documents at no cost. Perfect for beta reading!

I know not everybody feels the way I do about e-books and/or Kindle. Where do you stand? Why?

11 thoughts on “Jilly: Eight Years of Kindle

  1. I love the Kindle for all the reasons you mention, Jilly. I’m traveling right now, and I’ve got my Kindle with me. And yesterday I got the Mary Jo Putney boxed set that was on sale.

      • Mary Jo Putney’s SO once wrote a very spirited and thoughtful essay on why he read romances. She picked a good one, so I’m inclined to support their household. Also, I liked the opening paragraph.😀

        • Now I’m doubly glad I bought the set! I’ve been meaning to read her for a while, so I didn’t even bother to check out the opening paragraph. We’ll have to compare notes 😉

  2. I’ll add to your list that my local library system now has ebooks available for loan. It’s a heady feeling on a bored Sunday evening to be able to borrow a book without waiting for library hours.

    On the other hand, on Friday I visited Dollar Book Swap, a start-up second-hand bookstore in an old automotive warehouse near my home that advertises being home to 100,000 books . I sold a box of books for $16 in store credit, reaped a couple of extra books from the promotion they were running, and walked away with a bag full of hardbacks and paperbacks without spending a cent. (Although I’ve been in there before and spent actual money.)

    I love Kindle for the convenience and lack of bulk, but I still love real books, too.

    • Dollar Book Swap sounds like a bargain! We don’t have anything like that nearby, but some of the local charity shops do a nice line in second hand books. We gave them nearly a thousand titles last year, in preparation for some refurbishment work at home. Romance and thriller readers in the North London area would have been spoiled for choice!

  3. I still have some very deep reservations about ebooks. What if there’s a pulse, and all our electronics are wiped out? (Worst case scenario, really.) But I’ve heard of companies deleting people’s accounts in accidents and stuff like that. Plus, if there’s a long blackout after a storm, I may run out of battery.

    OTOH, I could read in the dark on battery during the long storm and electrical outage!

    There are so many advantages, and I think you list most of them. Before, I had to travel to Sapporo to the English bookstore, or wait until I got home, and then I’d have a whole overweight suitcase of books that I’d bought. (Hint: never pack Karo Syrup and books in the same luggage, unless you put everything in ziploc bags, and double-bag the Karo Syrup.)

    One thing that I just love is the ability to take notes right on my Kindle app. There are problems; I won’t be able to update my copy of “The Prisoner of Limnos” until I copy-and-paste (or screenshot) all my notes, because the update will wipe everything clean.

    They say that I can adjust the size of my Kindle so the type is more readable. Actually, I think my Kindle must be already set on a rather large font, because I really don’t have to mess with that.

    Oh, but another minus is that I can’t lend my Kindle books easily, and people can’t lend me their Kindle recs. At Thanksgiving, some of us swapped books and recs. I was able to give J a bag full of Ilona Andrews, and she’s started them already. E recommended Brandon Sanderson . . . but he’s got them all on Kindle, so who knows when I will take a look at those? (Although, I may have gotten some Sanderson from people leaving in Japan, in the pre-Kindle era, so maybe it will happen sooner. It depends — if I only got novel 3 in the series of 8, Sanderson will go back on the TBR when I get time to do some bookshopping list.) Sanderson is going to have to really sell himself on the Kindle free sample (but I’ve heard he’s good, so maybe it’s not so hard for Sanderson).

    The immediacy is great. I got some recs for K.J. Charles from a trusted source, and the first one was free or reduced in price, and I loved it. I bought it immediately, and I’ll be buying more.

    I originally thought that I’d buy a lot of Kindle for the things I thought would be one-read-only. They wouldn’t clutter my house, and I could delete at will. But it turns out that I really like Kindle for books that I read and discuss with others. I only have about 50 right now; I hope I can keep them better organized when I have thousands. I’m trying to keep a system set up, but it’s not really that easy to tag books properly and put them in the right categories.

    • Yeah, there’s always the disaster scenario. But if your house burns down, all your paper books will go whoosh! I dropped my Kindle in the bath a few years ago and had to buy another, but at least I didn’t lose my library. Best, I suppose, would be to keep your absolute favorites in both formats 🙂

      I don’t lend my favorite books any more. I’ve lost too many that way. I’d rather gift somebody a copy. I don’t take notes on my Kindle, but when I read an e-book I’m always curious to see the underlined passages that mean (I think) that lots of other readers have bookmarked them.

      I haven’t read Brandon Sanderson yet, but I’ve heard many good things about him and one of our oldest friends’ daughters (smart, total bookworms) are super-fans. And I’ve been at a romance and suspense writing workshop the last couple of days where KJ Charles got several enthusiastic mentions. Very interested to hear that you enjoyed her writing. Hmmm. So many books, so little time.

      • Actually, when I was in college, we had a house fire, and the books were very badly damaged. In some ways, it was a blessing — we only replaced the books that really meant something to us, so that meant I didn’t have to ship a ton of books to Japan when I moved here. And we got replacement value for all the books. So, we actually could indulge in quite a few new books!

        But, I did lose a few books in that fire that I haven’t been able to replace, and I’ve wanted to. A Kindle collection definitely wouldn’t die in a fire like Alexandria!

  4. I love my Kindle for all the reasons you cited, but the most important to me are immediacy, portability, and being able to read in bed at night (with just the warm glow from my Kindle, my husband doesn’t have to ask me to turn out the light!).

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