Tag: reading

Kindle just isn’t cool anymore

I have a Kindle, somewhere.

Seriously, I know where my Kindle is. I just haven’t looked at it in a long time and it was brought to my attention today. I pondered why I haven’t read anything on Kindle and realized Kindle isn’t cool anymore.

Time flies, we all know, but the Kindle was invented in 2007. Some of you are probably thinking it wasn’t all that cool back then, but that’s a full decade of new inventions between then and now and there have been some pretty cool inventions.

Would you give a Kindle as a Christmas gift this year? Would you be thrilled if you received one? If the answer to both questions is no, then you have confirmed Kindle ain’t cool, man.

If Kindle ain’t cool, then I suppose that means the old-fashioned book may come back, but would you be thrilled if you received a book for Christmas? I think you see where I’m going with this.

Advertisements

The precious time of day

Perhaps it’s a habit formed by watching Netflix, but I can only give a bad book so much time out of my life before I skip to the end and cut to the chase.

If I find a new show on Netflix, I give it a few minutes and if the acting isn’t sincere or the story intriguing I turn it off. This is a phenomenon relatively new in the world of fiction consumption. Many years ago in the stone age, we used to pay for a movie and sit in the theater for two hours whether we liked it or not; we used to suffer through commercial breaks for hours in our living rooms, because nothing else was on but the dumb show in front of us. Here in the future, there is always something else on, somewhere.

So, when I pick up a new book and start reading, those first few chapters better be snazzy and the story better keep getting better or I am done with it.

I recently started reading Origin by Dan Brown. I made it about 10 chapters in and realized he was just stringing me along for the next six hours of my life before revealing what his fictional scientist discovered about the origin of the species. I skipped to the page with the big reveal and saved myself six hours. The big reveal was a big disappointment, by the way. Don’t bother picking that book up.

I did the same with another Brown recently. Sandra Brown’s book Seeing Red caught my attention on the front page of a Barnes & Noble bestseller list one day, so I gave in and ordered it through the mail like an old-fashioned, Kindle-less reader. It was a total bore, so I skipped to the end and confirmed it all turned out just the way I thought it would.

If I am representative of modern day consumers, we don’t have time for books anymore. We want gripping stories that keep delivering from start to finish and we have the ability to search for them quickly. Books that pose interesting questions in the first few chapters only to make us wade through garbage to find the answers aren’t going to work anymore.

The art of selling stories

What’s the first question someone invariably asks when you tell them you are reading a great book?

“What’s it about?”

If you say it’s about good vs. evil battling it out in outer space and they aren’t interested in that kind of thing, they will shrug their shoulders and never bother reading. People make up their mind very quickly about whether they are willing to buy a story.

Once I was at work and I told a woman I work with that I had an idea for a story. I said I was writing about a woman who meets her soul mate, but is already married to someone else. Within the next couple of days, different women around the office were asking me about the book and saying they thought it sounded good, yet that one-sentence premise was all they knew about it.

I asked the women what they would do in that situation and each one said she would stay with her husband. I didn’t realize until much later that I was basically planning to write Bridges of Madison County, which makes me think about the difficulty in selling old stories.

Movies like Casablanca or books like the Invisible Man probably aren’t making much money at this moment and it isn’t because they aren’t any good. It’s because they aren’t front and center in our minds.

People don’t read books because they are well written and they don’t watch movies because they are artistically shot. Take the two following cases as proof:

The seven-year old son of a man I know was wearing a Star Wars T-shirt the other day. I asked him if he was a Star Wars fan.

“Not really,” he said. “But I’ll watch it anyway.”

I just finished watching a movie called Passengers, which was made in the past year and frankly wasn’t impressive. I watched it anyway, because the premise intrigued me and I was in a tired mood and needed to relax.

In both cases, the consumer would gladly watch a better movie, but would also be willing to settle for a mediocre one. Now I understand how so many bad books and movies get made. The public doesn’t demand good.

If I told that kid he could watch a great classic movie from 1956 or the latest Marvel superhero movie, he would probably choose the latter. Premise and freshness trumps depth of content when selling a story.

 

 

 

E-books in higher demand than print

If print books are returning to prominence, why are they cheaper than e-books?

While book browsing on Amazon the other day, I noticed the price of an e-book is almost always a dollar or two more than the paper version of the same book. The print book costs more for publishers to produce than an e-book, yet is less expensive to buy.

E-books are not physical inventory items, so Amazon has no reason to unload them in a hurry, whereas print books are lying around, taking up warehouse space, so maybe Amazon wants to sell them faster to get rid of them.

Or, maybe it is simply a case of supply and demand and e-books are in higher demand. I seem to remember a time when e-books were much cheaper than print, but that was prior to the smartphone era. You used to have to own a Kindle to read an e-book and Kindles were expensive, so one incentive to buy a Kindle was the ability to buy cheaper books. Now, everyone with a smartphone can use a Kindle app for free and e-book prices are rising.

Amazon wouldn’t raise the price of e-books if people weren’t paying, so people must be willing to pay more for the e-books. That can only be for one reason: convenience. If I decide I want to read A Wrinkle in Time, I can go online and order the e-book and start reading it in less than a minute, or I can order the print version and start reading it next week.

Print books will eventually die off for the same reason video rental stores and printed newspapers are dying off. They are inconvenient and unnecessary.

Can I throw away my Kindle?

A woman I know loves to read books, but never finds the time. Recently, she became determined to make time for some books, so she went book shopping. She has a Kindle, but didn’t even bother to charge it up. Instead, she ordered print books online.

“I want a real book to curl up on the couch with,” she said.

We hear more and more lately about how people are going back to print books from e-books, but are they really? Are they actually reading the print books, or just buying them? The truth is, knowing the woman as I do, I am positive she won’t read those books she bought. If she ever finishes the books, it will be two or three years from now, maybe longer.

I think people like the idea of reading books and buying them is part of a fantasy world. They envision themselves curled up on that couch, drinking tea and digesting the latest historical novel, but that fantasy never quite fits into their day. We’ll see if she ever reads those books. If she does, I’ll let you all know.

 

 

Do you need an editor?

I completed 23 percent of that book I mentioned the other day and could go no further. I gave it a two-star review on Goodreads and in the process ran across an interesting review from another Goodreads user who also gave two stars.

Her review said the book started strong, but became repetitive and slow moving, which she thought could have been fixed by an editor. I agreed completely with her assessment and it forced the question: do all writers need an editor?

An editor of mine at a newspaper I worked for used to say everyone needs an editor. She didn’t say it to me directly in a scolding sort of way; she just said it out loud when circumstances called for it. While there were rare occasions in which she wouldn’t change a word of my stories for the paper, she more often changed them for the better. A few times, she changed them for the worse, but only a few times. Overall, my work was better for having an editor.

So, if I had to give advice to anyone thinking of publishing a book, I would tell them to get an editor. They don’t help with spelling and grammar as much as they help with analyzing the feel and flow of a work.

From what I understand, self-publishers can hire decent editors. Does anyone out there have a good editor they can recommend?

 

The greatest compliment

I usually don’t get past the first page or two of most books, so the greatest compliment I can give any book is to finish it. I sample a lot of books and it’s a pretty decent compliment if I pass the first chapter. I found a random book yesterday that lured me beyond the nine percent mark on Kindle. The book is Deadly Messengers by Susan May.

I plunged right in without reading any blurbs and found the general writing style to my liking and the story intriguing enough. I will continue reading it today and see how far I get. The beauty of reading on Kindle Unlimited is I can quit the book anytime.

If I make it all the way through, I may even take a stab at writing a short review for this blog. I promise to keep it short to increase the odds that you will finish it.