Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm Getting a Kindle

Also the sky is blue, grass is green, and I hate the Lakers.

After months of dithering in the name of "assessing" and "waiting for Mac compatibility," I have at last succumbed to temptation and am awaiting the arrival of a nice shiny... er.. matte finish white plastic Kindle. The future is now.

I am already busily making plans for my post-Kindle life, envisioning myself reading work manuscripts outside and on the bus and everywhere I previously couldn't read them as I saved an Amazon rainforest worth of trees by reading partials on my computer. When I figured out that I could still take notes on the manuscripts and then export those notes back to my computer, well, my Kindle fate was sealed. It will be Kindleriffic, people.

I'm also thinking ahead to this weekend, where a beach bonfire looms (my job: securing a spot and waiting four hours with a book), but when my Kindle arrives later this week I shall not want to risk jamming its buttons with sand.

Score one for paper.

When my Kindle actually arrives there will be opinions, and you will be hearing about them.






55 comments:

Kat said...

I've been told by a lot of people in the past that I should always print out a hard copy of my mss before sending it out because the words look and feel different on paper than they do on a screen.

Do you feel the same way? Do you think the use of a Kindle will have any bearing on the way certain manuscripts feel?

Nathan Bransford said...

kat-

That's a good question. I actually have gotten used to reading a certain way on the computer -- I'll switch people's fonts to Times New Roman if they're not already, double-space, and switch to the zoom level I like. I'll probably develop similar habits when I read the Kindle, although I don't know that books necessarily read differently. It's just easier on my brain to get used to certain settings, which helps me focus on the actual work.

Kat said...

I would think it would be difficult to focus if I brought my work to the beach with me. (Not that I would ever treat a Kindle is such a deplorable way.)

And hey, I live in Nebraska, what do I know about beaches? ;-)

Heidi said...

please tell me the bonfire is not the burning of the books your kindle will replace! Oy! The two of these subjects so close together gives me the non-technical heebie-jeebies!

Congrats, by the way!

TALON said...

I'll be interested in your opinions on the use of the Kindle. I, though I know tons of writers and even more readers, don't know anyone who has one yet. I can imagine, like most electronic gadgets, it will have good points and bad points. I'm curious to see if it becomes an indispensable, must-have item.

Dan said...

I am surprised Amazon is not selling a water/sand proof case yet for the Kindle. They could charge some ridiculous price for the accessory and make a killing!

bookboy28 said...

So, you've finally gone over to the dark side, huh?

There's nothing like 'breaking-in' a new book by gently easing the spine into reading condition, or passing on treasured book from your library with its unique markings, like that broken spine or rolled cover, to a friend.

I will never buy a Kendle. Used books are too cheap, and the library is still too good to believe.

I don't know much about this Kindle, and don't really want to, but I wonder if it's easy to share files with your friends. Is there a Limewire for book? Will authors ban togethere to make that time of file sharing illegal?

Bill Womack said...

I'll be fascinated to hear how you get along with your new toy, Nathan. And matte finish, no less! That's my kind of design. What gives with all the glossy surfaces lately? Has nobody at Apple ever heard of fingerprints? My wife got a new laptop last week (alas, an HP) and already you can get a whole dossier full of forensic evidence from its top.

Lupina said...

So if you can read partials on it (Word files?), take notes, and need to worry about jamming it with sand, what makes the Kindle really so different from, say, my 12-inch iBook?

Nathan Bransford said...

Lupina-

1) e-ink display (easier to read than a laptop)
2) global wireless (I could theoretically download a book from the beach)
3) portability (weighs less than a pound)

ilyakogan said...

I've had my Kindle for almost a month now. As for typing notes on it - the keyboard is clunky; it's not the same as a full size keyboard; I'm afraid you will find that feature lacking.

Next Page button is an obscenity. It's too big and it's too easy to press by mistake.

I'll tell you the two features Kindle has than are making it the success it is. Reflective screen - it's actually easier to read when it's well lit and Whispernet.

If it's not on Kindle I hesitate to buy.

Katie Alender said...

It took me a couple of tries to get used to my Kindle, but I think it's a great tool for agents.

I'd recommend that you read something familiar and beloved on it before reading a new manuscript, so you can get used to the experience and work out any awkwardness that might distract you from some innocent submission.

Enjoy!

Natalie Hatch said...

Kindle isn't released yet here in Australia, so we'll just have to stick with the paperback edition for now.

otherkatie said...

Let us know how it smells.

c.a. Marks said...

Oh no! We've lost another one.

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

"Only by being part of the change, can we help shape it."

Looking forward to hearing about your experiences with it. Sounds as though you and various others here will have suggestions to make to the manufacturers for mark 2. Why not have a posting to gather Kindle kindred spirits, and post suggestions for improvements, user experiences etc - and let them know to look at it?

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan,

Enjoy the Kindle! I got to see one a few months back and thought it was pretty cool, actually. Not as ugly as I'd thought it would be. And the screen was MUCH easier to read than I thought it might be--I really thought it was cool. Can't wait to see how you do with it.


I have a rather OT question. A recent Google search, on an unrelated topic, found me this (from the blog of "Rick Frishman"):

Editors are swamped, and it’s a challenge for them to read everything they receive. If they’re interested, they usually get back to the agent quickly, within a week or two. Many editors have their assistants screen submissions, so if their assistants like a proposal, it may speed up their response time. If editors don’t get back to an agent within a week or two, it usually means that the book is not going to sell.


This is apparently taken from his "Bestselling Secrets of Literary Agents" book. Now, you probably don't want to comment directly on the gentleman himself, but I know you've said before that books can take anywhere from days to months to sell, there is no specific time. So really, should all those of us with books on submission past the two-week mark give up? Isn't this a bit...um? Do the vast majority of projects really sell within two weeks?

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

Hope you find this post helpful.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. I have read that post--several times :-)--but it was a little while ago and my memory told me there was a bit more ambiguity in it than there actually is. Enough to leave open the prospect that most projects sell within two weeks, anyway.

Jennifer Jackson said...

Hey, Nathan -- I'd been thinking of getting an e-reader for manuscripts (not for leisure reading - I'll probably stick with books there) and had was leaning towards iLiad because it had more features than the Kindle. In particular, I was not sure the Kindle would let me make notes but now it looks like it will. Do post about that aspect when you get the chance to review it, please? I'd love to hear how it goes so I can think it over for myself.

Nathan Bransford said...

Jennifer-

I'm definitely envisioning it as more of an agenting tool than a reading tool (although I'm open to being converted). The sticker price of the iLiad drove me Kindle-ward, although the hand-annotation feature on that one is really cool. I've gotten used to typing notes, though, so hopefully the Kindle's tiny keyboard buttons work for me.

I'll definitely see how it goes reading partials and manuscripts and will report back.

JES said...

Very cool. Like others, I'll be looking forward to your first-hand reports!

(I like the suggestion from Katie Alender, about breaking it in with something you already know.)

Elyssa Papa said...

Oh, definitely let us know how the Kindle is. I've been eyeing this for a couple of months now, but haven't yet succombed due to the price factor. But, the enticement of being able to work/read manuscripts and not ruin the laptop at the beach or pool is very enticing.

Miss E. D. Thor said...

"Waiting for Kindle" - a new play by the playwright behind "iPodus Res".

Kidding aside, I feel a little silly but I want a Kindle too! On the one hand, I keep saying how much better books are overall and what a waste of money it would be to buy a little machine that's gonna break just after the guarantee ends (does it have one?). OTOH, well, it's cool! It's got buttons, I can carry more books in it than I would read anyway.

I just...I want it!

Dave F. said...

This will be interesting. Keep us informed.

When I started my last job before retirement, it required "interviews" on paper. Over the next three years, I worked at removing all of the paper and when I retired, I handed the entire three years (20 audits and several thousand interviews) to my successor on a CD-ROM. Not even single sheet of paper.

You must embrace technology. Whether you get to 100% paperless is not important, but knowing and understanding the future technology is important.

Good luck with the kindle.

Vieva said...

I don't have one of my own, but my mother has a Kindle and absolutely LOOOOOOOOOOVES it.

One of the advantages that isn't easily obvious is how well it works for people that have vision problems - you can't really change the font on a paperback, but it's easy to make it bigger on a Kindle. Less eyestrain for everyone involved.

Good luck with it!

clindsay said...

Nathan -

I've been wrestling with whether to buy a Kindle or a Sony eReader for a while now. I read all my manuscripts and partials on my Palm Pilot Tungsten E right now, and have been reading books on Palmies for about eight years now. I like being able to change the font and the font size, which is one of the big reasons I use the Palm. But I'd like a bigger reading screen and my Palmie is about six years old, dying a slow death. So I've narrowed my replacement down to the Kindle or the Sony.

Why did you choose the Kindle over the Sony? I'm curious as to your list of pros and cons when you made your decision. Does it have a backlight (the Sony doesn't, which is a drawback when you're reading on the subway).

Can't wait to hear what you think, and do let us know how difficult is it (or isn't) to set up.

Cheers!

Colleen Lindsay

Nathan Bransford said...

Colleen-

Ultimately I went with the Kindle because of the whispernet. I knew I'd be able to e-mail manuscripts to my Kindle account and download them whenever/wherever I happened to have my Kindle in front of me, rather than having to plug in all the time. Just seemed easier. Plus I have a Mac at home, so I was worried about the compatibility issues with the Sony.

No backlight yet, though, which would definitely be nice.

ORION said...

Lottery is $4.99 on kindle...

Marilynn Byerly said...

Here's a new reader for everyone's consideration. http://www.editorsweblog.org/multimedia/2008/07/new_addition_to_ereader_market_to_be_rel.php

It won't be available in the US for a while, though.

eInk paper is incredible, and we've not seen anything yet about what it can do.

When the price of manufacturing it goes down, magazines like TIME will give away a free blank magazine with eInk pages, and people will will upload their magazine each week.

It will be used as changeable wallpaper, changeable logos on tee shirts, etc.

Furious D said...

Call me a luddite, but I like not being dependent on batteries for my reading pleasure. ;)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I was just about to investigate the NEO...
but now, too many gadgets once again.

clindsay said...

Nathan -

The Whispernet is a big plus. I also use a Mac at home and was worried about the Sony eReader but apparently when you plug it into a Mac, the Mac reads it as just another USB peripheral, and you can drag and drop files onto it just as you would a flash drive. (Although nowhere on the Sony website will you read that.)

Anyway, keep us updated, you technological pioneer! :-)

Colleen

jbrian said...

I read an on-line article that said writers once used pens and paper to write stuff... even whole books!

Sorry, but this technology stuff sometimes just seems a bit much to deal with.

E.A. West said...

Ah, a gadget on which to read manuscripts that also allows you to make notes on said manuscript...what a wonderful invention! If the price were lower, I'd give serious consideration to buying a Kindle. As it stands, I'll have to stick with reading mss on my laptop for a while longer.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to say about your Kindle, though!

JDuncan said...

The Kindle was really made for folks in the publishing profession, in my opinion. Given all of the posts I've read from agents about reading stuff in all sorts of places at all sorts of odd times, this kind of device sounds like a no-brainer for agents/editors. You aren't buying it for pleasure reading (that's a whole other can of worms folks seem to be eating out of these days), it's a time-saver,and will make your job more efficient. At least it sure seems like it should. I for one, am all for every agent/editor getting one of these. Anything that might reduce the turn around time on material is a boon for us writers. Go Nathan! Hope it works well for you.

JDuncan

Adaora A. said...

Nooooooooo you've given in to the lure of the damn thing.

Just kidding. I hope it makes your job easier.

Have fun at your bonfire. Cold drinks, smores, acoustic guitar, a nice big fire and friends. Sounds amazing.

Can't wait to hear your final verdict.

Other Lisa said...

Is it just me? The Kindle looks so...so...ugly. Like a bad Star Trek prop, without that classic Trekkie elegance.

Am I that much of a Mac snob?

Katy said...

I just got a Kindle about a month ago and I have to say that I love it. I'm still reading "actual" books, but the Kindle is so convenient to carry with me to and from work. Plus, I can put my own files on it. I've even tried putting files from Project Gutenberg on it and it works great (download the html file and then send it to Amazon to convert it). I'm a writer and I've also been able to do some work on my novel on it (not writing, really, but highlighting pieces of text and taking notes on things to change). I hope you enjoy yours as much (or even more!) as I enjoy mine!

Katy said...

I forgot to mention, the instant gratification factor is fabulous! One day last week, I remembered a book I've been wanting to read for a while. I checked to see if a Kindle edition was available, bought it, and was reading the book on my lunch hour ten minutes later. You really can't beat that, especially when you work far, far away from any place that sells any meaningful quantity of decent books.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, thanks for being a "paradigm pioneer" (Joel Barker.)

If Kindle had a good marketing team they would give you a Kindle for free-just to push the industry.

I think the Kindle and similiar technologies will be like Hybrid cars. In several years we will all own them--because they make sense.

Can't wait to hear your opinions.

Jeff said...

I still don't have a cell phone.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Haven't seen a Kindle and barely heard of one, other than "kindling a fire," but your opinion on such matters and that's likely why most people return to your blog.

I agree with Kat regarding paper vs computer. I can edit my work a ton on the computer that I've zoomed and adjusted in the same ways that you've described, and I'll think that it's pretty darn done, but as soon as I print it out and read it on paper, the real blood bath is on, and something deeper occurs with the edit. I see things that just didn't show up on the screen. For me, it reads different, for sure. I've heard many other editors and writers say the same thing, which assured me that I wasn't crazy or alone. I guess it's a matter of personal preference, and the purpose in reading that particular manuscript...whether it's for pleasure, story content or for the purpose of edit.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Re: Joel Barker/Paradigm Pioneer

Here's a quote from "Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future," by Joel Barker (via amazon.com excerpts):

"3. Who are the early followers of the paradigm shifters and why do they follow them? I call these people paradigm pioneers. Without them, paradigm shifts take much longer. Paradigm pioneers bring the critical mass of brainpower and effort and key resources necessary to drive the new rules [books?] into reality. Very few of us can be paradigm shifters; many more of us, if we understand our roles, can be paradigm pioneers."

Interesting how you can evaluate author-agent-publishing relationships in terms of paradigm shifters (authors and their groovy new ideas and stories) and paradigm pioneers (agents, who then bring into play "the critical mass of brain power and effort and key resources" of the publisher) to make a book a bestseller.

Ken Coffman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ken,

Why don't you try a little more obvious approach to get Nathan's attention! I think he may have missed it.

Ken Coffman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ken,
I think you'd do better dressed as Cormac McCarthy or one of The Hills. I don't really see Nathan as a clown guy.

Ken Coffman said...

All right. Cormac McCarthy? I give up. I'm beaten.

Lupina said...

Thank you, Nathan, for answering my question about differences between Kindle and iBook. Now I'm really curious to see how that e-ink looks. And I can definitely understand the portability factor if it weighs that little. There have been times going through airports that my iBook felt like a set of encyclopedias in my bag. I hope you'll report on your feelings about it after a week or so.

lilywhite said...

Take it to the beach, Nathan. Four words: Quart-size Ziploc baggie. (No joke.) I take mine in the tub even. :)

Long-time reader, first-time poster. That's what drinking the Kindle-aid will do to you -- drag you right out of the woodwork to be a Jeff Bezos cheerleader.

Oh, and to the person who asked about e-Ink -- it is literally impossible to convey how much like reading paper it is, until you've seen one yourself. It is *nothing* like reading a screen!

Lily

Anonymous said...

Hello Nathan! I'm a frequent reader but I think this is my first comment.

Anywho, I look forward to seeing your review of the Kindle. I ordered one yesterday (after several months of internal debate and loads of online research). I recently moved from the US to the UK and, not to mention storage space being an issue, the cost of paperbacks here runs in the $20 - $25 range. While part of me is loathe to give up the comfortable feel of a worn down paperback, the other can't wait to save space and (eventually) cash.

Jonathan Lyons said...

Stupid Lakers.

Christa said...

I bought a kindle about two months ago. I had two choices: buy a larger house and use one room as a library (I've got SOOO many books to shelve/store) or stop buying books! I opted to buy a kindle and minimize buying paper books.

I haven't tried reading/annotating my own works yet, but I do LOVE the screen. With my job, I work on the computer all day long (literally), and then, of course, in the evenings I write on my laptop. Needless to say, my eyes desperately need a break when they can get it.

I had read the reviews, but was still surprised to see how easy the kindle screen was on my eyes. I looked at others, and granted the kindle is probably the least aesthetically pleasing e-reader around today. But it was the screen technology and whispernet service that sold me. And they both have been absolutely wonderful.

The next page buttons are clunky and should be at the top of the list on re-design, but once you get used to it, they aren't a problem.

I love mine. I think you'll be pleased with yours as well.

Anonymous said...

Hm. I almost bought one. I've just rec'd contracts from my publisher for six of my titles to be made e-Books. Lots we don't know about the e-Book prospects as yet. I'm waiting for an updated Kindle as I hear thre are a couple of snags. Let me know how you like it. I imagine myself reading from my Kindle on a plane flight -- and of course, leaving it behind. Lots cheaper to lose a paperback!!! STill, I' a real sucker for such gadgets. Especially if my own books will be there. LakeLady (Joan HIatt Harlow)

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