Reviewing Kindle on an iPod Touch – and my first Kindle read

I have to admit that I have been a reluctant convert to eBooks.  It’s partly because I’m a cheap skate and partly because I love my books.  Prior to a long trip two years ago, I decided it was time for me to switch to eBooks and join the new world, at least for our trip.  I downloaded Kobo onto our iPad on the recommendation of a friend who said there were all kinds of free books available for it and she loved how Kobo turned her iPad into an eReader.  I downloaded a few of the free books, but they were the most classic of the classics, all of which I’d either read or previously dismissed.  Then I downloaded Overdrive, which is the reader our Public Library uses for their eBooks.  I was excited to learn that I could borrow eBooks from our library.  Sadly, the selection of eBooks available through their borrowing license was simply too limited and the few that sparked my interest were already “checked out” or on reserve.  So I considered biting the bullet and buying some eBooks I really wanted to read.  But the eBooks cost nearly as much as their paperback version and I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money on something that I couldn’t loan to a friend, contribute to a charity book fair, or put on my shelf.  I just wasn’t able to get past not being able to share a good book, so I bought several paperbacks, stuffed them in my backpack, and had some great reads while travelling.

It wasn’t until last week when I was confronted with wanting to read a self-published book that I decided to give the eBook format a second chance.  I had no way to get this particular book except as an eBook.  For most (or at least many) self-published authors, attracting an audience and distributing paper books beyond a local market is a huge challenge.  On the other hand, uploading an approved electronic file of your book to Amazon is eminently doable.  Your prospective buyer then just needs to know it’s there or happen upon it while browsing the Amazon book site, and, oh yeah, have a Kindle.  To buy the eBook, you don’t need a Kindle Reader, which sells at the moment for $69 US (or $89 CDN for some reason), you just need to download a free Kindle app for your mobile device or computer from Amazon.  How kind is that?! Then you can go to their site and start buying their books.

My motivation for this change of heart is a book written by a fellow blogger and, since he and his paper-based books reside in Jersey (Channel Islands, not New Jersey), obtaining a copy seemed impossible.  Until he uploaded it to Amazon.  I suddenly had a way to access it.  Instead of downloading Kindle to our iPad I put it on my iPod Touch.  My iPod Touch is small but mighty, and I was happy to find that reading a book on it is just as satisfying as using it to read a newspaper.  I subsequently downloaded Kindle to my PC and our iPad; Amazon is generous enough to automatically sync all Amazon-purchased eBooks to each of these apps, because it’s all tied to your Amazon account.  I find I like reading from the iPod Touch much better than either of the other platforms, but that’s just me.

BarryFirst I’d like to say a few words about the book that brought me kicking and screaming into the eBook world, Barry, by Roy McCarthy.  I was looking forward to reading this first book written by someone whose blog topics and writing I enjoy very much – and I wasn’t disappointed.  For the reasonable price of $2.94, Barry was effortlessly downloaded to my iPod and I could begin reading.  I’m not a book reviewer, but I will take this opportunity to share a few thoughts about this read.  Barry is a fully engaging and enjoyable read.  The synopsis on the Amazon site gives this brief overview:

“Barry used to be a half-decent runner…until the pub took over. However, in a brave effort to fight back against middle age and monotony, he took to the road once again, as did more than one other person in Roy McCarthy’s entertaining novel, strictly about running…on the roads, on the track and, in one man’s case, running away from trouble. This is very much a story about the world we live in – with a very disturbing ending…”

JerseyYou can see from the description that the protagonist and I have one thing in common: love of running.  That’s a nice bonus, but it really isn’t a book about running.  The setting of the novel, which takes place in Britain and Ireland, also drew me in. For any of you who have read any of the books of one of my favourite mystery writers, Peter Robinson, whose stories are based mainly in Yorkshire and London, there is some similarity in settings and descriptions. Barry also has an impressive amount of character development and side story development, so much so that I can imagine future novels concentrating more on some of the secondary characters.  There is far more about life’s ups and downs than running, although running is an effective unifying theme for some of the characters.  Roy throws a number of personal challenges at his characters, who handle them differently depending on their personalities and backgrounds.  This was a great read, Roy.  I’m ready to download your next two eBooks at Amazon, A Jersey Midsummer Tale and Tess of Portelet Manor.

AndrewWhile I’m on the topic of self-published books at Amazon Kindle, one of my colleagues in computer science at our provincial university, Andrew McAllister, has his novel available there as well, and it is currently available for free during a special promotion.  In fact, during this promotion, his book, a thriller called Unauthorized Access, has become a “Top Pick”.  Bravo, Andrew.  For the next few days you can download it yourself for free and see what you think.

Now to my thoughts about the cost model for eBooks.  I just don’t get it.  The prices seem to fluctuate wildly.  It is terrific that this business model provides a means by which people can get books into the public domain at a time when the traditional publishing world is so challenged.  And there are some great reads as well as some great buys.  But if I look at books that I might be buying from the best seller list, the story changes completely.  To download Yann Martel’s Life of Pi or Beatrice and Virgil, for example, I’d need to shell out $15.71, whereas I could order either of them in paperback for under $10.  The same situation holds for most other popular novels.  Even if they were the same price, I’d balk at buying a non-sharable eBook instead of a book I can hold.  I find it hard to understand why the Kindle version would be more expensive.  I can only guess that, unlike me, other people like eBooks enough to pay for what they see as a convenience.  I am quite sure that there is economic method in Amazon’s “madness”!

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34 Responses to Reviewing Kindle on an iPod Touch – and my first Kindle read

  1. Red Hen says:

    Hi! I saw this post reblogged on Roy`s blog today. And, coincidentally, I downloaded a sample of his Tess of Portelet Manor. I don`t have a kindle-merely a free kindle ap on my android. It`s possible to download samples of all ebooks this way, before committing a hard copy or e book purchase. Much easier to view on an actual Kindle or Ipad though.The Amazon 1-click system is cool-and scary!-too. They have my account details and so, with one click, I can purchase my ebook.
    Looking forward to reading Tess. And glad to see Barry getting a great review. Must try it.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Good to hear from you, Red Hen. Yes, there is a lot of flipping of “pages” on my iPod Touch, but actually I was surprised how much I enjoyed that format. Talk about easy to hold in bed! You’re dead on that the Amazon 1-click is cool but scary. I already have a problem with how easy it is to order a (“real”) book and have it shipped quickly, but having it downloaded instantly takes some getting used to. I’ve just finished reading Tess. I’m getting a better feel for what Jersey is like. Roy is really good at developing characters. He needs to write more so I can find out what happened to all the ones he’s introduced me to in Barry and Tess!

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  4. Once you start, you’re hooked. 🙂

  5. jane tims says:

    Hi Jane. I have a KoBo and, like you, went to the Gutenburg project to see what was available. I have actually enjoyed digging into Sherlock Holmes, etc. I also like buying a book this way when I am certain that I don’t really want to add it to my ‘real’ library. I love that I can hear about a book and have it in my hands within 10 minutes without a trip to town. I also download my own writing into my reader and use it to decide where edits are needed. Jane

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with your reader, Jane. Your idea about using it for editing your own work intrigues me. I remember reading about that on your blog. Since I wrote this post, I’ve downloaded 4 more books written by fellow bloggers. How about yours?!

      • jane tims says:

        Hi Jane. I am in the fourth draft of my book now. As soon as this draft is finished, I’ll make sure you have a copy. It will be a while before the final is in published form!!! Jane

  6. Lisa says:

    I too was a resister until my godson sent me one in the mail as a random act of Keith. I felt obligated to give it a try. I am hooked. I love that I can put it in my back pack, jump on my motorcycle, take off for a weekend with 3 books that take up no room. I just purchased Barry as well and was happy with the ability to convert it to epub for my kobo. I still love the smell and feel of a book but there is a place for this kind of reading.

  7. alesiablogs says:

    I have an Ipad and just love it. However I find myself unable to tear away from the book in my hand mode! So I have a stack of books in one corner I am reading and an Ipad with a “stack” of books on it too. It is just looks nicer than my pile of books in my computer room! Great Post! I think I will download that book that you mentioned too. This is exactly the reason I like these blogs because I get such great ideas from folks I read that I know I can trust. : )

  8. A.M.B. says:

    Great review, Jane! I’m also looking forward to reading “Barry.” As for ebook pricing, I think there are a couple of reasons why ebooks for traditionally published books are often more expensive than the paperbacks. First, I suspect Amazon purchases in advance a large number of certain books, and when they don’t sell, they become “bargains” at a price below the ebook. Second, I would guess that the publisher has some say in the ebook price and that they like to charge an arm and leg for it. These are just guesses, though.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, AMB. Two good guesses re pricing. Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure that until it changes I’m going to be favouring my paperback books, although I could end up in the minority. There is no doubt that the publishing world seems to have found itself in a no-win world, at least at the moment.

  9. Roy McCarthy says:

    Reblogged this on Back On The Rock and commented:
    Barry cracks Canada! I’m honoured that excellent blogger Jane Fritz chose my debut novel as her e-book initiation.

  10. Roy McCarthy says:

    Ah, thank you Jane. Your kind observations about ‘Barry’ are appreciated, especially as it was my first foray into writing. It’s interesting to see what an objective reader makes of it. And whatever the pros and cons of e-readers it certainly makes the wider world of books much more accessible. Thank you once more.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      You are most welcome. Your characters are still with me. You did a great job of bringing them all to life, each with different issues and approaches to tackling them. I would have even paid more than $2.94!

  11. jennypellett says:

    I’m still resisting an e reader although my husband loves his – probably because it is linked to my Amazon account and he regards it as a never ending Christmas gift – which of course, it is!

  12. Jody says:

    Jane – I love, love, love reading on my iPod Touch. I can read while feeding Savannah and the noise of turning a page doesn’t distract her. I can also read at night with the light off, so Andrew can get his zzzzzzzzzzzz’s. I have yet to purchase a book though, as I am also a cheapskate. So I have only downloaded from the library.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I agree. It’s SOooo light and allows you to do other things with one hand while holding and turning pages with your other. BTW, the friend who put me onto the Kobo in the first place was your mother! You come by your cheapskateness honestly. 🙂

  13. Around 5 years ago I bought a sony ereader. It was pretty costly–around $400. I did get a lot of use out of it, though. I figure in its life I used it at least a half hour a day, every day, and many times for several hours a day. Overall I found more ‘bads’ than ‘goods’. Let’s see: Bad: costly, only worked well in very good light, finicky battery life, nasty habit of locking up and being VERY hard to get unlocked (repeated hard resets and such), non fiction unreasonably priced (soft cover at chapters usually cheaper than eBook). Good: lightweight, could hold most everything I was reading at any time, easy to get content. I did not use the Sony store–I prefer Chapters/Indigo.
    The battery has been getting worse and worse lately so Christmas when Mrs. Clause gave me a Nexus 7 tablet I stopped using it altogether. Instead of Kindle and Kobo readers, which I deeply mistrust as I can’t get past the suspicion that they are phoning home to the mother ship telling them what I am reading (which is none of their business, and by the way at the moment I am reading Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock That Shaped the World by Tom Zoellner) I installed Aldiko reader for Android and like it very much.
    I will likely never buy a paper book again as the ebook gives me everything from the book and more besides.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks for sharing your history with eReaders, Maurice. I know what you mean about wondering just what the “big boys” are doing with my shopping preferences, etc. (although I’d love to see thei analysis of my extremely eclectic choices of paper-based books); I took the lazy route and decided not to worry about it. I presume that by ” … and more” you mean the convenience of portability. searching ability, etc? You get over the reality that you can’t swap books with friends?

      • Who says I cant ;>)

        The other biggie I like is that it lets me work with my extreme distractability. For example, while reading the Uranium book I mentioned I was reminded of the Flourospar mine in St. Lawerence. NL. Many, many good people died early working there. Dying from silicosis from the duse and from lung cancer caused by the extreme amounts of Radon gas in the mine. We always understood that the flourite mined there was for ‘general industrial purposes’ but I always harboured a deep suspicion of something else. After i read of the refining process and how it depended upon tremendous amounts of flourine gas I did a little digging and essentially confirmed by long-held suspicion: namely that the stuff from the mine was one of the raw materials needed to produce weapons-grade uranium. …and all from the nexus 7, and all without unduly disturbing the flow of the book.

        • Jane Fritz says:

          Fascinating. I think you have another series in the making with this subject! Thanks for this.

        • Hey I’m still on the other rant! Still to do: videoconferencing, asset management, science labs, teaching music, teaching tech. ed. and maybe teaching French. Have to finish that first :>)

          Not entirely sure but I’d like to get started on curriculum development in Canada too. It’s been far too long before we engeged in the spacious conversations needed to overhaul k12 education in this century. Most of the conversations I hear are (1) patching up the curriculum (2) responding to loud and often wrong special interest groups and (3) whimsical meanderings through applying the next big toy (e.g. ipads smartboards and such) to the classroom. oh and (4) sitting through talks from the many self-proclaimed ‘experts’; that are meking the speaking circuit instead of working in classrooms. The real conversation needs to be on what, in general we are trying to achieve and how we should be doing it.

        • Jane Fritz says:

          I look forward to seeing your agenda unfold. Bravo!

        • and a bit on Sheilagh’s brush of course sometime this week :>)

  14. I love my Kindle app on the iPod Touch (and now on the iPad). It’s made my commutes much nicer, because I don’t have to carry hard-copy books.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks for commenting. I can definitely see the advantage, especially with how light the iPod is and how you can hold it and turn pages with just one hand. Now if I could just get past the cost part! 😉

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