Tag Archives: Amazon

Got a new iPad 2. And my Kindle’s gettin’ dusty.

My husband got a great deal on an Apple iPad 2 for my birthday.  He used American Express points AND got a discount.  So it’s really not such a giant indulgence, even though I do have a Kindle.  And an iPhone.  And a MacBook. Or at least that’s what I tell myself!

But I will tell you, Amazon is fighting a losing battle.  I loved me some Kindle.  Super-great for storing dozens, even hundreds of books.  (Just like I can do on my iPad.)  I can shop online!  (Just like on my iPad.)  I can adjust the font size.  (Ditto.)

But the glare!  The glare!  That’s the big differentiator.  The Kindle’s more like the printed page, and it doesn’t have that pesky, eye-straining backlighting.  Except that I found the little thing that lets you adjust the brightness.  I have a Kindle app on my iPad, and I can use iBooks, too, as well as a nifty app called Newsstand.

So, while I’m not saying good-bye to the Kindle, it’s kind of like those leftovers in the fridge that you feel like you should get to, before they go bad.  And I had somebody ask me recently if I’d considered the Nook, and how did it stack up to the Kindle and to the iPad?

My answer:  who cares?  Why would I want to hitch my reading habit to a reader that’s hitched to Barnes and Noble?  Are Kobo users thrilled with their choice, now that Borders is defunct, I wonder.  I’ve seen the future, it’s the iPad, and it’s in my hand.

Greetings from Bouchercon!

I’m on a four-day literary extravaganza! Bouchercon is the annual fest for fans and writers of mystery, crime, thriller, suspense, and related subgenres (graphic novels, anyone?).  Mostly a fan event, numbers are not in for this year, but attendance in 2010 topped 1,600.

Although I know more writers than I did in the past, I’m still bowled over to be in the room with luminaries such as Val McDermid, Jan Burke, Parnell Hall, Jeremiah Healy, Charlaine Harris… the list goes on.  And on.

Yesterday began with a six a.m. pickup from my friend Addy, chauffeur and roommate extraordinaire.  (For which I am eternally grateful – she had to get up at 4:30 to make this happen!)  We drove to St. Louis, checked in to the super-lovely Renaissance Grand Hotel, and then walked over to the ever-so-opposite Holiday Inn Select, where Sisters in Crime was holding its pre-conference workshop for writers.  It’s the only event specifically for writers… so I was pumped to go.

The event was an incredible value for the $50 reg fee.  Speakers included:

  • David Wilk, CEO, Booktrix, on the state of publishing
  • Libby Fischer Hellmann, author (most recently, Set the Night on Fire, a standalone thriller), on comparing traditional and e-publishing
  • Cathy Pickens and Jim Huang (author and bookseller respectively) on getting your book into print
  • Marcia Talley and Ellen Hart, popular mystery authors with long backlists, on do-it-yourself publishing on Kindle

Most useful session for me?  Do-it-yourself publishing on Kindle.  Marcia and Ellen talked very knowledgeably about what to do, step by step.  For published authors with a backlist of out of print books, this means new life – and new money- with this new channel for introducing your fiction to new audiences.  (Get your rights back!)

Personally, I have a super-fun book that I have given up on pitching – it’s not a mystery.  I came away convinced that I can freshen this up (wrote it so many years ago that my popular references are sure to be dated), format it myself, get an ISBN number, get my ever-so-talented graphic designer husband to do me a cover, price it at $2.99 or $3.99, upload it to Amazon and let my employer know I’m about to retire. (Just kidding on that last one.)

The Sisters in Crime Event included a banquet with a very amusing after-dinner speech by author Meg Gardiner. Meg writes the Evan Delaney series about a Santa Barbara attorney and the Jo Beckett series about a forensic psychiatrist which were published worldwide, but not in the U.S., until Stephen King wrote an article about her books in Entertainment Weekly. Fourteen publishers called the next day.  I was drinking coffee and paper-and-penless during her speech, but I sent myself a series of emails so I could remember some key points.

Email #1:  Meg’s blog is called Lying for a Living.   She’s also on WordPress. Sister!

Email #2:  First published book was China Lake.  I bought it – and several others she authored – today in the Bouchercon book room because when she talked about China Lake, she commented that “a big, big story will expand your readership.”  Now I want to see a big, big story… I fear mine are tiny, itsy-bitsy stories…

Email #3:  “Left Behind in the E-book Rapture.”  Or at least that’s what my email was supposed to say, iPhone corrected it to “Left Behind in the Snook Rapture.” I love the phrase and the point she’s making – e-books are not going away. Not there?  It’s not too late.  And if you can focus on a big career, this is going to all come naturally.

So that’s it.  I have a giant list of cool blogs, websites, resources, and more… a bulging book bag full of new purchases and a Bouchercon tote bag full of books that I got FOR FREE repeat FOR FREE… several new friends and a few days to go.  More later.

E-Reader options laid out in Tribune – Update!

Bitten by the e-reader bug, but can’t make up your mind which option is best for you – especially now that the iPad is coming out?  Make haste to buy today’s Chicago Tribune, where the Trib has dedicated most of page 13 to giving you the details on the iPad, the Kindle (both versions), the Nook, and three versions of the Sony Reader.  Don’t try to find the article online – I already looked, it’s not there.


Information provided:  initial cost, size, display size, battery life, storage GB/MB, resolution, recurring costs, as well as who the option is best for.

Very compelling:  the iPad’s 9.7 in display size, the color screen, and 1024 X 762 resolution.  Downside to the iPad is the cost, the 1.5-1.6 lbs. weight, and recurring costs for access to the Internet.  The Tribune’s Amy Guth says the iPad is best for multimedia users, and that’s definitely true.  If you’re planning to use the iPad as a platform to read books, it’s like buying a Ducati when you need a Schwinn.  Still, it’s very sexy.  The Apple website says it’s the best way to experience the web, email, photos and video, and they make a great case.

Looking at the more vanilla options – Kindle(s), Nook, and Reader(s) – I breathe a sigh of relief to see that the Kindle 2 is the best choice for me.  Always good to see that you made the right decision!  The Kindle’s bottom line is “best for high-volume readers,” Barnes & Noble’s Nook is “best for social book lenders,” and the three Sony options are “best for news junkies,” “best for geek chic,” and “best for budget-minded casual readers.”  I appreciate the Kindle’s focus, it meets my needs.

One option that Ms. Guth missed is the iPhone.  I haven’t used it yet, but my techie husband found an app called Kindle for iPhone in the app store on his phone.  It’s free!  And it turns your tiny iPhone screen into an e-reader, you can purchase all Amazon Kindle titles to go to your iPhone.   The Kindle 2 was on his 2009 Christmas list, so now he can read on the Kindle while seated comfortably on our couch… and read the same book, synced to where he left off, while he’s sitting in the car waiting for me to get off the train or standing in line at the post office.  To me, the screen is just too small.

Happy shopping!

Time out from the Edgars, thanks to Amazon & the publishers

I’ve been on a roll lately, reading and blogging my picks for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar nominees for Best Novel.  At five of the six nominees read, I ran into a roadblock when the ever-so-accommodating Oak Park Public Library was not quite ready to lend me The Odds, by Kathleen George.  According to their online info, the book was in the “sorting system” and so even though I was #1 on the hold list, it was not going to be on the shelf when I went to the library to pick up my next trunkload of books.

Woe is me.  How can I start another book?  The Odds was it.  The next one.   Should I read magazines until it was ready?  Watch reality shows?  (Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is addictive, I don’t really want to start.)

My anxiety abated when it occurred to me that I could order The Odds on Amazon.com and have it delivered in moments, via Whispernet.  Plus the reviews for the book were stellar, so I wouldn’t mind owning it.  Heck, I’d probably read it over and over.

But the new price system on Amazon – augh!  $14.82 for the e-book.  That’s just 18 cents away from $15.00.  I could print out a Borders coupon, hie myself down to Harlem & Lake, and get a brand-new, pristine, hardback version for that much.

So – the publishing wars (where Macmillan and Amazon battled over pricing, and other publishing houses entered the fray) are pretty much over.  Amazon lost this battle.  And the publishers accomplished their goal… they made me think twice about the cost of an e-book compared to a hardback.  But what about the war?  Did they push me into printing out their coupon and buying the book?  Am I now sitting here, caressing the smooth book jacket, inhaling the tangy scent of freshly pressed pages?

Nope.   Amazon lost  and the publishers lost… because in a day or two, I’ll get my email that says “The following book is being held for you at the Main Branch of the Oak Park Public Library:  The Odds by Kathleen George.”  And I’ll go pick it up, read it, and get back on that lonely blogging road.

To those who are eagerly awaiting each blogging pearl on the Edgar necklace (how’s that for a convoluted metaphor), my apologies.