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To Kindle or Not to Kindle?

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 by Keven

I liked the concept right from the start: Buy books in seconds. Download books in seconds. Carry books with you – weightlessly—wherever you go.

There’s no getting around it: the Kindle is hot.

It’s the world’s largest bookstore, but without the need to herd two little kids across a dangerous parking lot. And did you know you can actually borrow books on this thing? That makes it the world’s largest public library—but without that powdery white bathroom soap that chafes your hands, or those older volumes that inexplicably smell like vomit.

What’s not to like? When Mother’s Day came, I heeded the hints and bought one for my wife.

“You know what’s going to happen now?” my buddy Joe asked after church. “You’re going to become a two-Kindle household. It’s inevitable.”

I nodded. As an avid reader and writer, I knew I couldn’t resist the Kindle.

But I did resist the Kindle. Why? Because on some level, the Kindle seems like cheating.

Someone goes to the trouble of writing a book and getting it published. The book is a physical thing that shows up on physical shelves. There’s a huge book tour and an interview on NPR. It transforms a mere writer into an author. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. That’s the way I keep telling myself it will work for me, as soon as I finish this next white paper and actually have time to start writing a book.

But now, thanks to the Kindle, books live in the cloud. Nobody can see their titles when they’re tucked under your arm at the airport. They don’t smell like paper, or ink, or even barf. They’re just….words.

As I pondered my conversation with Joe, I realized I was torn. Buy the cool gadget? Or hold out and take a stand for “real” books?

Still skeptical, I visited Amazon and began browsing their collection of Kindle books. I typed in some random topics to see how extensive the Kindle library really is.

And then I saw them: three e-books on a computing topic that’s obscure to 95 percent of the population, but certainly not to me. The titles immediately attracted my attention—clever and crisp, but not cutesy. The author? A company whose name I’ve seen on paychecks.

Wait. These were my e-books. I ghost-wrote them months ago for a client. And now they had become Kindle books, posted on the Web for any Kindle owner to download.

The best part? They were actually charging money for them. Oh, sure, they were going for $0.99 each. But that’s not the point.

The Kindle has transformed this copywriter into a copyauthor.

I’m dying to show off my work to my mother. But to do that, I’ll need a Kindle.

is a member of the Content Bureau editorial team.

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