Sunday, 3 June 2012

Kindle - good or bad?

I was thinking about digital publishing and the impact it has had on both readers and writers and decided to write something about this.
I bought a Kindle last year and initially downloaded mainly free books, most of which I deleted without reading them. Being able to have the complete works of Charles Dickens for nothing doesn't mean I'm actually going to read them.
Next I discovered Donna Leon and downloaded all her books. I remember staying up late to read Kate Johnson's 'The Untied Kingdom' and being absolutely riveted by the first in the Voyager series by Diana Gabaldon. I couldn't understand why it took me so long to finish this book, I'm a very fast reader, until I realised it had over 900 pages.
I've bought a dozen or more young adult fantasy but only read a couple. When they are less than a pound I don't bother with the extract.
Good Points
For the reader:
Instant gratification - see a title and get it immediately.
Millions of books between free to £2.99.
Can get an extract before buying.
Kindle can be carried anywhere.
Print size can be adjusted to suit.
Long battery life.(If you remember to turn wi-fi off.)
 For the writer:
Can self publish a book easily.
Receive all the royalties.
Know exactly how many books are sold.
Don't need an agent or publisher.

Bad Points.
For the reader:
Millions of badly written, and unedited books to trawl through.
Can't flick to the end of the book.
Badly formatted books even with major publishing houses.
New titles from major authors far too expensive.
No actual books to put on the bookshelf.
No  colour illustrations -doesn't work for children's books.
For the writer:
Have to pay for cover design and an editor.
Have to do all the marketing and promotion.
No actual book for bookshelf.
Reference books are not successful on the Kindle.

I'm definitely a fan of the new technology. I can  decide whether to give my latest Regency to a digital first publisher or put it up myself. I know several authors who have put up their entire backless and are selling  thousands of books.
That said, I will always buy hardback copies of certain authors. Reading on a Kindle is not as pleasurable an experience as opening a brand-new, beautifully covered, Bernard Cornwall or Lee Child. I read paper books downstairs and my Kindle in bed. My reference library will continue to grow as I need to be able to flip between sections when researching and this is impossible on a digital reader.
My research has turned up some interesting facts about Kindle readers - the facts seem to point to mainly middle-class women as owners of the Kindle. Men and teenagers seem to prefer paper books to electronic.
What do you think? Is this your experience?

best wishes


  1. Interesting post, Fenella. I too received a Kindle last year. I held off as I am a paperback I tend to bend corners, crease pages, and generally love it to bits. They decorate a home, and I consider them works of art created by an author. However, I have fallen in love with the Kindle too. I love having it to hand when out and about. Ideal for the plane.

    I have now learned to read my ms while editing on the K, and it is useful. For me, I have a place in my life for both.
    Glynis Smy - author

    *Saw your Tweet and feel your pain with regards to Blogger!*

  2. Hard to believe teenagers don't read on Kindle. I will always have books -they are part of my decor.
    Editing on Kindle sounds hard work - I need a full keyboard.

  3. I think there's a place for both. I still love books and would much rather read one on a beach or in the bath. However, an e-reader is ideal for long journeys.

  4. Without the Kindle it wouldn't be so easy to self-publish back list etc. About to embark on my first attempt at this.