Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Economics of E-Readers

Can you spot the article about literature hidden in Angelina's hairline?

Everybody (especially me) is terrified that e-readers will do to books what Napster did to the music industry. And perhaps with the recent closing of Border’s, there’s some merit to that fear.

However, my short personal experience of owning a Kindle have taught me otherwise. As I said in my last post, I’d fallen out of the habit of reading (and especially buying) novels. But now that I have a Kindle, I can’t resist the temptation. It’s instant gratification with a lasting reward.

And by gaining one marketing advantage, publishers seem to have realized another: up-selling. Here’s my anecdotal evidence:

A few days ago, I was shopping at Target, as I am wont to do. At the checkout line, I spotted a teaser for an an article in Vanity Fair:

How to Create

By Keith Gessen P. 262

“I want to become a literary star,” I thought to myself as I plunked it on the conveyor belt without even glancing at the $4.99 cover price.

When I was home and halfway through through the article, I noticed a little textbox lodged into a column on page 272:

For an amplified version
of this story, download
How a Book Is Born.

For the Nook and Kindle.

I stupidly assumed that the “amplified version” would be free, since I’d already paid in bulk for a bunch of articles. And by the time, I discovered it cost $1.99, I couldn’t let that small figure keep me from literary stardom.

In the end, I paid $7 plus tax for the pleasure of reading one (1) magazine article! Now who says the publishing industry is dying?

And yes, it was worth every penny. (But only because of the free perfume samples—otherwise I’d been better off buying the $1.99 Kindle version and saving a tree.)

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Kindle

Check out my green Kindle cover with Shag sticker. (I'm not smiling because I'm concentrating on holding my computer with one hand while pushing the photo button. ... So much for stoicism.)

For my birthday, I got the best present in the world: A Kindle! (Thanks, Dad.)

When e-readers came out a couple years ago, I’ll admit that I was terrified of them. To me, they represented the end of all that was real and true about books … before I even got a chance to publish my own.

Two things changed my mind:
1. The technology got better.
2. I realized that despite my lifelong love of reading novels, I had fallen out of the habit. Instead, I frittered away my free time obsessively reading the New York Times online. Why? Because it was convenient. For me, getting a Kindle was leveling the playing field for books.

Why a Kindle?: Although I’m starting to fear that Amazon may be the next evil empire, I chose its e-reader. Sure I could have gone with the flashier iPad or the touchscreen Nook. But I did not want a FaceBook machine or an Angry Birds console, I wanted a device that was as much like a real book as possible. So far, Kindle has been wonderful.

The agony and ecstasy of choosing a cover: For the first time in my life, the cover of a book was not the thing that held the pages together, it was a reflection of myself. I wanted to proclaim to the world that I was smart, I was an intellectual, and that I had a fabulous sense of style.

I narrowed down my Kindle cover options to three types: 1. The covers that are made to look like copies of the New Yorker (but which one?) 2. The covers that look like literary novels (but which one?) 3. The Kate Spade covers that also look like novels (Great Gatsby was my fave).

I’ll spare you the agony and dispense the results. After so much thought, I ended up picking Amazon’s own cover because it had so many more amenities. The built-in light that’s powered through the e-reader is awesome. And in the end, with the help of a couple stickers, I have a cover that’s all my own!

The back of my Kindle: The two Shag stickers tell a story, if you look carefully.

Visiting The Goon Squad

I just had another birthday and I just read Jennifer Egan’s spectacular novel “A Visit from the Goon Squad.” Coincidence? … Yes, actually. But, the two events are intimately related. Both involve agonizing over the inevitability of getting older. One involved a pulitzer. And another involved cake. Guess which is which.

Egan’s story is fabulous, and although I’ve always hated for my age to go up, I’m looking at this birthday as another chance to live long enough to win a Pulitzer of my own. Okay, now back to novelizing.