Cora testdrives a Kindle, compares the relative merits of different e-readers and hits a bestseller list.

A few days ago, I was at Staples, because I needed some ink cartridges for my printer. By the entrance I noticed a sign: Amazon’s Kindle e-readers now available at Staples for only 99 Euros.

Intrigued, I went in search of the Kindles and indeed found a display featuring a single Kindle for demonstration purposes. Of course, I immediately had to play around with it, especially since this was actually the first time I’d held a Kindle in my hands. The demonstration model came preloaded with various German language e-books – anything from Goethe via Martin Walser to Ildikó von Kürthy. Unfortunately, the “Browse for books in the Amazon store” function was not enabled for the demonstration model.

The verdict: The Kindle is very light and compact, a lot lighter and thinner than I would have expected even after having handled other e-book readers.  The controls are not exactly intuitive, though. I had no problems flipping virtual pages, but getting back to the main menu took some tries (but then I never know how to get back to the main menu with an iPad either).  My Dad, who just happened to be with me at Staples, complained that the font size was too small and unpleasant to read.  “You can adjust the font size”, I told him, “That’s actually one of the big advantages over traditional print books.” But when I tried to demonstrate the function to him, I couldn’t find it, though I did call up a virtual keyboard at one point. The “Short introduction to the Kindle” guide wasn’t really helpful either.

I’m still waiting for the price to drop further on e-readers, though they have become very affordable of late. But when I get around to buying one, will I get a Kindle? I don’t know yet. Kindle would be the logical choice, since most of what I buy and sell is via Amazon and a lot of books are no longer available anywhere but at Amazon thanks to KDP Select.

On the other hand, the Kobo reader looks nice and handles pretty well, though the price is higher and I don’t like the Kobo shop at all. Thalia‘s Oyo reader and Weltbild‘s 59 Euro colour e-reader are other options, though I have no idea which format they use or how compatible they are with anything. Though it’s notable that even my mother pointed me at the Weltbild reader lately, after she’d seen it in an ad on TV. And both Thalia‘s and Weltbild‘s online stores are focused mainly on German language books and they are not indie friendly at all. The Sony reader is out, because I have the world’s worst luck with Sony products and won’t even buy a floppy disc or a VCR tape from them by this point (not that I buy floppy discs or VCR tapes these days anyway, though I still have devices that can read both).

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that nearly 20 percent of all adults in the US now own an e-reader, while 19 percent own tablets. I don’t know whether there is an overlap in this figure, particularly since some e-readers are also tablets and all tablets also double as e-readers.

In other news Outlaw Love hit the Amazon UK bestseller list for lesbian fiction today, barely scraping in at place 95:

What did it take to get there? Two copies sold in rapid succession and a couple of sales in the months before (Outlaw Love is my steadiest seller). Nor is this the first time I’ve hit an Amazon subgenre bestseller list either, Hostage to Passion hit the historical romance list on twice. I’ve also been fairly high on the XinXii bestseller list at one point.

The changing nature of bestseller lists is also being discussed elsewhere at the moment. In her Business Rusch series, Kristine Kathryn Rusch explains why it takes much fewer books sold now to hit one of the New York Times bestseller lists and what this means for the relevance of bestseller lists in general. In a similar vein, Joe Konrath declares that bestsellers are no longer relevant in the new world of publishing. What matters is that more writers are finding their own measure and level of success and making money.

Technology Review points out The Atavist, a platform for creating enhanced e-books that is much more liberal and useful than Apple’s iBooks Author. I’d never heard of this before, but it certainly sounds interesting. Thanks to Jay Lake for the link.

But while pretty much everybody has decided that Apple’s iBooks Author is evil, the debate over KDP Select is continuing:

At David Gaughran’s blog, historical fantasy author Sarah Woodbury explains why she did not join KDP Select.

Meanwhile, indie writer Simon Smith-Wilson explains how KDP Select worked for him for an unpromoted series published under a pen name.

Finally, Fast Company has some more information about the scammers who put up plagiarized erotica e-books on Amazon.

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7 Responses to Cora testdrives a Kindle, compares the relative merits of different e-readers and hits a bestseller list.

  1. Pingback: Report Day Links | Cora Buhlert

  2. Estara says:

    Lots of fascinating links ^^, thank you! I own two Sonys, so I can’t help you decide ^^. How about the iRiver Story?

    • Cora says:

      Sony products and I just don’t mix. Pretty much every Sony product I ever had died on me within two years at most, from radios via VCRs to video cassettes. I gave up on Sony for good after a faulty Sony ZIP disc lost me a 37 page translation. I don’t know what it is with me and Sony products, since they have a good reputation and other people rarely have problems with them. But I just have the worst luck with them.

      • Estara says:

        Oh, my e-readers have all kinds of hang-ups, but by and large I’ve been very happy – my previous TV which was a show model and therefore cheaper worked just fine for 10 years until I replaced it with an LCD TV, for example. My old walkmen still work ^^.

      • Estara says:

        Basically I buy them for the same reason you don’t buy them – previous experience ^^

        • Cora says:

          My Dad was recently throwing away instruction manuals for old equipment and found the manual for a phone, but he couldn’t find the phone itself. So he showed me the manual and asked, “Do you know what happened to that phone?” – “I think it broke down years ago”, I said and took a closer look at the manual, “Of course, it broke down. It’s a Sony.”

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