How I Lost My Virginity to an E-book Reader

Kindle LoverI’m an old-fashioned lass, though some might question the ‘fashion’ and just leave it at old. I prefer books that come on paper. But since I am presently rewriting the 550,000 words Feast Fables Trilogy, previously posted on WP, with intent to e-publish, this seemed a good time to remove my prejudices and become acquainted.

I began, as an opening date, with Kindle’s free app. I could have installed it on my phone, but the touchscreen tends towards temperamental, swinging from highly excitable to downright stubborn. Instead I installed it on the laptop despite I’ve no liking for reading long tomes sat at my desk, all formally posed. However, long story short, I liked it. Time to stop paddling and take the plunge.

My Christmas Collection of pennies (okay, one cheque and one interbank transfer) resulted in a sufficiency of funds. Only problem now was to decide which Reader I’d go for. I didn’t want to spend much, and I here give the reason:

As an oldster, the one thing that has struck me across the centuries (oh yes, my life spans two—C20th & C21st—as maybe does yours) is the rapidity of redundancy in the technology industries, to wit:

The Rapidity of Redundancy in the Technology Industries

As a wee-wee child recorded music was impressed upon ‘slate’ 78s (okay, they were verging on the obsolete though my Grandma still played them). These heavy beasts required a wind-up gramophone and an actual needle, like double the size of the average hypodermic.

During my school years the single sized 45s had their day, with (double sided) 33 rpm LPs for multi-track albums. Things really were moving; no more hand cranking the system, electricity now powered the record-player (renamed the hi-fi with the advent of the stereo technology).

Next to arrive was the cassette. By then I’d left school and was wrecking the town. I have a clear recollection of recording my entire singles collection on to blank cassettes. Which then chewed up in the system, a frequent occurrence with the cassette technology. I became adept at splicing tapes. With the now-obsolete singles departed, turntables became the preserve of DJs.

The arrival of the (supposedly indestructible) CD totally wooed me. But since my cassette player wouldn’t play them … out went the old. Again. I then discovered these ingenious disks weren’t indestructible and neither trouble-free. Sticking and skidding were frequent problems. But being ‘recordable’ did offer financial, if illegal, benefits. Also, I could slot them into my exceedingly heavy, exceedingly space-taking flatbed computer. Ah, remember the days.

In many respects, the difference between CD and DVD was minimal. Though the CD player had seen its day (and though we reckon those days in years, those years were few) at least the CDs were playable on the new DVD technology (I think that’s referred to as ‘backward compatibility’). The advantage of the new (DVD) over old (CD)? More music per space.

And into the modern era … and enter the MP3 (and its brethren), music in space. Any space. The triumphant call of MP3 tracks is the range of gadgetry invented to play them. But, alas, now the DVD has had it day. That’s another technology gone. Yet, tenacious, it yet remains the preferred medium for portable movies and POS computer storage/programmes.

I have a green soul and will recycle and convert where I can. But I cannot see how it’s possible to cannibalise my Grandma’s hand-cranking gramophone to make it into an MP3 player. All of which makes a point. Why invest in today’s technology if tomorrow it’s to join its predecessors in turning our green land into a metallic-looking brown landfill site? That point drove my decision to invest in the cheapest Kindle Reader.

I’ve now been dating my E-Book Reader for a couple of weeks. Getting to know each other, eh? The battery lasts without a recharge for weeks and weeks, says Amazon’s sales copy. Um, not it doesn’t. It lasts no more than 5 days. Maybe I’m reading too many books? Or jumping from one to another? Or downloading too many? Still, I didn’t expect perfection. And that’s just as well.

Kindle Unlimited, Indie Authors, Fantasies and Trilogies

What can I say? Yes, it’s great that with a monthly subscription, equal to the cost of an average paperback, Kindle Unlimited gives the reader access to 1000s of Kindle books. These past two weeks, I’ve scrolled, selected and downloaded and have mostly been happy. But I have this liking for Fantasy genre, and Fantasy authors have this tendency to write in trilogies. I don’t knock it. I do it myself. But why, oh why, must they break the story at a crucial point?

Yea, I know, it’s a marketing ploy. But it’s one that, if not handled properly, can easily backfire. The idea is to leave the reader hanging, gaging to know what happens next. The usual cliff-hanger scenario, seen in every soap opera and serialised drama. The reader will then buy the next book. But even in the brief time I’ve been reading these indie authors I’ve discovered some writers (or their editors) don’t know the difference between trilogy and serial. While a cliff-hanger works well with a serial, there are other, kinder, ways to ensure a reader’s continued interest: i.e. a hook. A hook is what’s buried in the book’s blurb. A hook suggests something interesting is about to happen. It leads, it encourages. It is a carrot, not a stick. It doesn’t leave the reader hanging in mid air seconds before the climax. Me, I’m inclined to say sod it and never open another book by that author. And I doubt I’m alone. This total disregard for the reader and the reading process … annoys.

That’s one part of my gripe. The next is this: If a story is to be included in a Fantasy Collection then please, oh please, tell the reader, right from page one of that story, that it’s part of a trilogy AND that the useless inconsiderate pig of an author has cut the story short of an ending.

And Finally, Editing

Not all indie authors can afford the services of a professional—they don’t come cheap, especially for a trilogy—but the author CAN invest in one of the many freebie guides to editing on Kindle Unlimited and with application, time and diligence make close to a professional job. To date I’ve read two established indie authors with impressive lists of previous publications, who credit their editors in the Acknowledgements. Yet the number of errors then found … not a good advert for said editors. Exceedingly sloppy work.

So I trust you’ll excuse me if my rewrite of Feast Fablesy is yet a while in reaching Kindle publication, for I do intend it to be thoroughly edited. And while there will be hooks to pull the reader across to the next book, I promise I shan’t be an inconsiderate lover and leave the reader hanging just before climax.

About crispina kemp

Spinner of Asaric and Mythic tales
This entry was posted in On Writing, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to How I Lost My Virginity to an E-book Reader

  1. Brian Bixby says:

    Are you saying you’ve been screwed by an e-reader? 😉
    The hi-fi record player I grew up with, besides 78, 45, and 33 1/3, also had 16, although we never had a record that was designed for that speed. And my parents’ last console stereo system had a radio, record player, and 8-track tape player.
    I share much of your annoyance about trilogies that leave you hanging. I want the story to reach some sort of conclusion, and it really burns me when I get a book that doesn’t reveal that it’s just a “1 of 3.” It’s one reason I decided myself that all my stories should stand by themselves, even if they are connected to others. (That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading my readers hanging at the end of chapters!)
    And here’s an odd thought: editing errors in professionally edited books tend to be of a different kind than those done by amateurs or others less skilled. The latter tend to have a lot of trivial spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      Title: meaning my first experience of an e-reader.
      And yea, I oversimplified the situation with music systems, to keep it brief and uncluttered. My last music system (before abandoning them altogether and heaping everything onto the laptop) included radio, tape deck and CD/DVD player. The radio was reliable. No comment on the rest.
      On editing, I have noticed over recent years there’s a greater frequency of errors slipping the net on traditionally published books. I take this to be indicative of the publishing houses trend towards outsourcing editors in bid to cut costs; indeed, in UK there’s a move towards dumping the responsibility of editing up on the author (one more reason I shan’t be going that route. In UK publishers are rapidly becoming little more than printers and and distributors; no care given unless you’re a big name)
      Of course, it might be that with self-editing my own work, my eyes are more alert to errors in others’ works. Possible, but I don’t think so.
      Trilogies and hung endings seem more prevalent in e-books. In days of old I would (inadvertently) read Bk 2 first, and then hunt around for Bk 1, yet Bk 2, or Bk 3 would be readable even without that first part. Remembering my first fav fantasy writer was Michael Moorcock,, I totally swooned over his ‘Dancers at the End of Time’ trilogy (okay, so I was only 16, 16 yr old do tend to swoon.) Na, this inconsiderate cut is a modern phenomenon practiced mostly by indie-writers,.
      BTW the FF Trilogy, after a sensible, much-needed restructuring, as expanded to a quintology. Sorry folk, but if Robert Jordan can present the world with a duodecadology (ok, so it ran to 14, but that was Sanderson’s contribution), then I can go for a 5-part cut.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brian Bixby says:

        OK, didn’t mean to force you to cover ALL tech, or we’d have to do video tech, too!

        I’ve seen the same problem with the majors. My Penguin edition of Stoker’s “Lair of the White Worm” definitely has a major editing screw-up, which no doubt will get fixed in a later edition, but shouldn’t have got through in this one. It’s the sort of error I expected in the cheaper sci-fi paperback publishers of 30-50 years ago.

        It’s all the you’re/your or the writer not catching that he’s obviously referring to the wrong character (something I did a few times early in blog writing) that sneaks through in the indie stuff.

        I have seen some major publishers put out volumes that don;t end stories, even one case where what was clearly the first volume of a series was not so labelled until AFTER a lot of people bought it.

        If FF structures better as a quint, go as a quint. Frankly the convention of trilogy is one of the stupider things publishers (and readers!) have inflicted on the field. Too many weak 2nd volumes, too many tacked on 3rd volumes, too many 1st volumes that rely on premises undercut by the later volumes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        In case of FF, and to my way of thinking, a trilogy is a trilogy (or larger) for mostly mechanical reasons. Take LOTR, written as one book, but due to prohibitive paper costs put out in three parts. As too with the aforementioned ROT, imagine that as one complete book. I have most of the volumes (some were library borrows); they take up an entire shelf. I’m being careful where I divide FF, and in fact it’s the story that’s decided it. Working to a 5 act structure, at the end of the fifth act, that’s where to cut. So in all, the story rolls across 25 acts. I had previously used a 3 act structure. 3 acts, 3 books, since the story complete must also conform to the structure. It was only when looking at FF 5-act-wise that I saw that was its natural form. BTW, though most would say Shakespeare used 3 act structure, he did, in fact, use 5. If you apply the 5 to his plays, the acts break exactly as they should. It seems to be a structure inherent in us. Once we’re wise to it, we see it everywhere, even in works whose authors claim them to be entirely free of any act structure. (you might tell, I’ve recently been studying the phenomenon. . . . guided by writer whose book I, timely, bought) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Joy Pixley says:

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I still have my collection of vinyl, mostly from the 80s, and a turntable to play them on. Although I’ll admit that it’s much easier to slip in a CD. I still haven’t “graduated” up to cloud music storage; I think I just don’t listen enough to make figuring it out worthwhile.

    I have largely failed to adopt the e-book thing, too. I have a few on my computer, but it’s not as fun to read them. I literally spend all day long at my computer, between work and writing and keeping up with friends and my blog. When it’s time to read, I want to retreat to my cozy nook with a real book. I even won a Kindle a couple years ago in a contest, and couldn’t figure out how I’d ever use it enough to make it worth keeping, so I gave it to my dad.

    But I’m sure I’ll eventually change my ways and stop being such an old fuddy-duddy about it — which will mean I’ll have access to so many books I’ll never be able to choose what to read, ack!

    Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      Once I’d discovered how the book is magically zoomed from Amazon (or other) to the reader, my main objection was not being able to read in the bath! But since my current bathroom is situated in direct line of my front door, and that door is situated in direct (uninterrupted) line with Siberia, I don’t often bask in the bath. It’s like taking a tub in the Antarctic.
      I do find it easier to read in bed, No dropping bookmarks and losing your place. Also I can jump from book to book without having to take a stack to bed with me, (in that I mean from non-fiction to fiction. Mostly). And the real seal on it, eyesight changing as we age, being shortsighted for several years now I’ve found it easier to read without the glasses (especially the small print!) But with an e-reader I can change font size, and type, and the page colour. So gone is the eye strain. Yippee!
      And music: Despite maintaining a collection of CDs, and indeed a radin-cum-CD player, my laptop answers all my needs. From the time I get up (5:00 is) to the time I go bed, the is music rolling out of the usb-plugged-in-really-good speakers. And while I might play something I’ve inputted from CDs, or downloaded (I mostly use Amazon) when writing I tend to use YouTube. It’s so easy, no thought needed. Just key on music preference and up pops trillions of tracks and mixes. Every day could be different. And it just plays and plays and plays with no attention. It’s great for writing. And it costs nothing. I like those words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joy Pixley says:

        Being able to zoom in on the print is probably what will eventually get me into e-readers. I’ve been nearsighted (as we say on this side of the pond) since early childhood, and my vision is truly awful by now. But luckily eyeglass technology has advanced wonderfully, so my much-worse-prescription glasses now are even thinner than the “Coke bottle lenses” I wore as a kid. Strange, I don’t seem to have much trouble with books, but I do like to zoom in the text on my computer: the bigger the better.

        As for music, when I was younger, I had music on constantly. But the older I get, the more I appreciate silence. When I write, any music seems more distracting than helpful, especially if there are lyrics. I would rather be alone with my thoughts, and have total control over my mood and where my ideas take me. Goodness, I sound like a real stick-in-the-mud now, don’t I? It’s only a short step to waving my cane and yelling at those pesky kids to get off the lawn. Ah, well… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        Me too, regards eyes and computer. It’s that middle distance. Opticians don’t seem to understand what we’re telling them. Though, yea, isn’t it great how they can shave the lens down to whisper thin.
        And I’ll agree that lyrics can be distracting. I listen either to instrumentals only (Two Steps from Hell, are good, except sometimes there’s a track I recognise from a movie and try to name the movie and thus get distracted. But of late I’ve been listening to Germanic and Slavic electric folk music. Not knowing the language, the words don’t distract. And the rhythm is fantastic, really keeps my hammering the keys, and so upbeat too, it helps set the tone for what I’m writing. When I was writing this the first time I was listening to a lot of Clannad and other Celtic-y sounds. I prefer the Slavic, it’s closer to the (geographical) setting of the story, at least at this point.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joy Pixley says:

        That’s true, if I don’t understand the language, the voice is just another instrument. Until I start trying to make the words into English, somehow… The folk music does sound good, I can see how that would help you get into the mood when writing for a certain time frame.

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        I do admit, at times I try to make the Slavic words ‘English’. It’s something I’ve done since a kid. My father, having spend much time in army and having an ‘ear’ for languages (which I have not) would use all kinds of foreign expressions, from Hindu and Arabic through to Polish, Russian and German, and I would mimic, but replacing the words with English soundalikes. EG, (and I’ve no idea what language, or the correct words, but for what’s the time he’d say something that sounded to me like ‘Kick the budgie’. He’d swear in Polish and Russian. He speaks German and Polish close to fluently, having spent far too long there during WWII (as POW). Me, I struggle with French, can manage a splattering of German and after a week in Bulgaria in 1991, can remember one phrase. Not impressive.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joy Pixley says:

        Your father sounds like he’s had an interesting life, and what great languages to know! I’m not that horrible at picking up on a language (or a few words, at least), but I have a terrible memory for everything, my language skills being only one victim of this. So I’ll manage to learn enough Italian or Spanish or German (or even Finnish or Hungarian) to get around while traveling, and then by two years later: nothing. I’ve studied French, repeatedly, so I do somewhat better with that. Even then, I can’t understand at least half of the lyrics of French songs, and yet I keep trying, which means it’s still distracting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        But, Joy, I can’t understand half the words to English songs. Songs are notorious for blurring diction. But I echo much of what you said. I’m far better at writing the languages though. I used to excel at Latin but memory’s so bad I can only translate with a dictionary in hand. and that’s Latin to English, not other was round. I think you have to keep using it, for it to remain. My father kept his ‘hand’ in with Rhine cruises etc. And now he’s in an ALF, a lot of the carers are East European, so he’s jabbering away all day long. Especially since my mother’s death. While POW my father had become somewhat friendly with a young Polish lady, and to her end-days, my mother gritted her teeth of it. She’s have really resented him flirting with the carers in their native languages.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joy Pixley says:

        True, just because you know the language doesn’t mean you can understand some singers’ words! And writing is always easier than hearing and understanding — for one thing, you can do it as slowly as you need to.

        I totally agree, that it’s hard to remember a language unless you keep practicing at it. It sounds like your father is a big hit with his carers. With apologies to your mother, in my book, a widow/widower has free rein to flirt with whoever is kind enough to play along. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        Absolutely. And he is 97 years old, he’s entitled. But, yea, he is the darling of his carers.

        Liked by 1 person

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