Saturday, 30 April 2011

Is that a Kindle in your pocket? by Susanne O'Leary

I grew up in a house full of books. Reading to me was as important as eating. Whenever I found myself in the city centre, I would, after having satisfied my clothes shopping addiction, always look for the nearest bookshop, where I would be happy to spend an hour or more browsing, touching books, reading blurbs, admiring covers, flicking through the pages. It was a physical, visual pleasure as much as an intellectual one. Buying a book was the culmination of my book shopping pleasure and opening a new book was like embarking on a new and exciting journey. I thought it would always be like this.

The advent of the electronic reading devices was something I scoffed at. It would never affect me. As both a writer and an avid reader, I felt that an e-book device was somehow debasing the sacred art of writing and reading. Like reading comics rather than books. Cheap, nasty, common. The fast food of reading. The instant coffee of literature. Or something like that. I turned my nose up at it, thinking I would never stoop so low. How wrong I was!

I saw an e-book reader on display at the airport about three years ago. It was a Sony and I glanced at it without much thought but finding the print of the ‘pages’ quite alluring and the way they turned electronically intriguing. But I quickly turned away and walked past it into the bookshop. It was on my mind though. For a while.

Two years later, I was slowly coming to terms with the huge change in the publishing industry. Getting published was becoming a bit like trying to squeeze a lemon through a keyhole; interesting, time consuming but nearly impossible. My lemons were too big for the keyhole in any case. Someone suggested e-book publishing. I said no and then went home and thought. For a while. A long time. A month. Looked up a few writer’s sites on the Internet. Saw what other writers were doing. Heard about Smashwords. Looked them up. Thought; ‘hmm… okay…’

Then I did it. I e-published one of my books. First on Smashwords, then on Amazon Kindle. I felt that I was indulging in some kind of guilty pleasure, like sneak eating cold pizza in the dark. Didn’t tell anyone, thinking this would never take off and how many people have these awful devices anyway? Wrong again. As I was blindly surfing on the web, trying to ‘market’ my book, having no clue how to go about it, I stumbled into one of the forums and suddenly found myself among tens of thousands of Kindle owners. It was like opening a window in a quiet room and suddenly finding a huge crowd outside, cheering and shouting (and even throwing rotten eggs sometimes). The sales started to trickle in and I published more books, abandoning the moral high ground and mingling with the crowd, finally accepting, embracing and becoming part of the e-book revolution.

As a writer, I was happy. My books sold well and received mainly good reviews. But as a reader, I was still in real-book mode. I would always love books and would never either call them DTB’s (Dead Tree Books) or stoop so low as to read anything on a… Kindle. Oops, wrong again!

I had to buy one, I was told. I had to see how my books looked in an e-reader. It was a good tool for proofreading, a fellow writer told me. An expensive tool, I thought, but okay, I probably should. My Kindle arrived about two months ago. I loaded it up, bought a book just to ‘see’. The rest is history. The Kindle is a wonderful reading device. The text on the screen is soft and restful to the eye, the Kindle itself is light and easy to fit into a handbag, I can load it up with literally hundreds of books and bring them with me on holiday without adding to the weight of my luggage. I can read in bed without disturbing a sleeping spouse, courtesy of the light in the cover. And I can read all the wonderful, reasonably priced indie books that are now available. I have to finally admit it; the e-book reader is a magic device for bookworms like me.

My name is Susanne and I’m a Kind-aholic. (I still love books, though)


  1. It was great to read this, because I went through exactly the same thing when considering publishing an e-book. I've heard so many similar things in praise of the Kindle, so maybe it will be on my Christmas list this year. Thanks for posting!
    Georgina -

  2. Thanks for your comment, Georgina. yes I resisted buying a Kindle for a long time but now I'm happy I finally did it. I find I read even more now that I have it. It's exactly like a printed page too, so proofreading saves all that printing a full ms just to do corrections.