Friday, May 29, 2009

Kindling, it's not just for starting a fire any more . . . or is it?

By Lonnie Cruse

After me hinting around, suggesting, and finally outright begging, my family chipped in for my birthday last fall, Christmas last December, and Valentine's Day last February with multiple gift certifs from Amazon. Whereupon I purchased a Kindle. And fell in love. But I already said that in other posts. Purpose today is to discuss what's available for Kindle, sigh, and what is not. Wheeee! And maybe look into the future of print books.

Where was I? Books on Kindle. There are a lot of vintage books which are no longer under copyright laws. Various groups are converting these books to e-files which can then be downloaded to a Kindle either from Amazon or other sites. Many are FREE! Others are minimal, like under a buck.

So far I've downloaded MYSTERY CLASSICS, A COLLECTION which includes The Gloved Hand, The Hand in the Dark, and The Old Man In The Corner. I've enjoyed what few pages I've read. THE EXPERIENCES OF LOVEDAY BROOK comes with illlustrations. wonderful mystery stories, etc. BULLDOG DRUMMOND by Herman Cyril McNeile, DR. THORNDYKE MYSTERIES, by R. Austin Freeman, THE CLUE OF THE TWISTED CANDLE by Edgar Wallace, ALICE OR THE MYSTERIES BOOK 01 by Edward Lytton, PHILO VANCE, 12 COMPLETE NOVELS, THE WORKS OF P. G. WODEHOUSE which are listed in mystery, and WHOSE BODY? by Dorothy Sayers. All under a buck or free. All snuggling on my Kindle. Books that would be hard to find or cost a lot more if I did find them. NOOO, I haven't read them all yet, but I have dipped a toe in the water of several. Some I'm enjoying, some are so so.

Collections I've downloaded not in the mystery genre are CLASSIC AMERICAN LITERATURE the works of Willa Cather, and CLASSIC AMERICAN LITERATURE, the works of Edith Wharton, CLASSIC CHILDREN'S BOOK by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This is stuff I *meant* to read and haven't. Now's my chance.

In the way of single books, not collections, I've downloaded OUR LADY OF PAIN by Chesney which I'm currently reading, LOIS THE WITCH (not sure of the genre there but it was an old book and the sample was interesting.) Just downloaded yesterday DEATH OF AN OBNOXIOUS TOURIST BY Maria Hudgins. She is a fellow Five Star author and I wanted to support her. Then there are some freebies like HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON which looks like a fantasy and was FREE. Ditto for PERSUADER by Lee Child (which now has a price tag, you gotta grab the freebies fast) THE MYSTERY OF METROPOLIS, THE HAMPSTEAD MYSTERY, AND CRIME SCENE AT CARDWELL RANCH. If it's free, I download it. I can always delete if I don't care for the book.

My Kindle holds 1500 books. I'm no where near that number, but I'm working on it. I love being able to carry this many books at once, and more important, to switch to something else if what I've clicked into bores me.

I no longer even notice the page turning, which did bug me a bit at first, as it sort of blinks. My battery lasts a long time because I keep the wireless turned off unless I'm downloading. I can get samples of books to see if I might like them. I can remove books from the Kindle when I'm done if they aren't keepers. And I can order a book while riding in the car or reading in bed late at night, without the use of a computer.

All in all, it was worth the purchase, and the begging. I've even uploaded my own first mystery series to the Kindle library. I'm not getting rich, but I've sold a few.

Back to the purpose of this post, what's available on Kindle. Besides the vintage at low price, the newer books are coming out on Kindle. And this sparks a debate among owners. Sometimes new books are introduced for free (though I notice not as many as there were in February when the new Kindle came out) but many for a high price. So far I've avoided buying anything over $9.99 If I'm paying more than that, it would be for a book by an author I love, and I'd want to keep the *real* book. Some books are REALLY expensive, but rare. I was browsing by price yesterday but stopped when I found Kindle books for over $100. Say what??? Many of the books that have been in print this decade (and can you believe this decade is nearly over? Yikes!) are on Kindle, at a cheaper price than paperback.

Things that drive Kindlers nuts: The units can be a teensy bit delicate, so owners REALLY need to keep a Kindle in a case. I bought the suggested case and found a snappy little purse to drop the entire unit in, with the charger, when I travel. Free books quickly become books with a price, so you have to check nearly every day. The Kindle isn't backlit which doesn't bother most of us, but a few complain about it. And the NUMBER ONE complaint, NO folders. Meaning you have a list of books and samples on your home pages (I have five pages, sigh) that you must either sort by most recently opened/read or by title or by author. We would ALL love some folders to be able to drop the samples in one, new books into another, books read/but we're keeping them on the unit anyhow into another, etc.

I'm getting this info from the Kindle discussion lists, by the way. Most are pretty helpful. People also suggest books to read (or not read) there. And anyone having issues with their unit often post there, so the rest of us know what to look for or how to correct problems, should they arise. Of the thousands of units sold, most seem to work fine, but customer service has apparently been very helpful in fixing or replacing units that have problems.

I think the future of books and of the Kindle, will be remain like now, prices cheaper than paperback or hardback. Readers embracing the e-readers. And lots of publishers and authors jumping on the e-book bandwagon. However, enticing as Kindles are, I believe that my generation, while embracing Kindles, will still buy paperbacks and hardbacks, so it won't be until we are all gone and the techie generation (think under forty) becomes the new majority that print books *might* pass into history, with everyone reading on some sort of gizmo.

If you find that a scary thought, you're in good company. And you are over forty.

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