Kindle Tip – Saving 40%

by James Wallace Harris, Wednesday, September 4, 2018

I don’t know why, but sometimes Amazon tells me I have a promotional credit. I never know what they mean. The other day I bought a $1.99 sale ebook and was told I had a promotional credit that would last 60 days on my next Kindle purchase. I just ignored it. Then I bought a $1.99 sale book today and got another promotional credit. This time I read the email more closely.

Sense of Wonder - A Century of Science Fiction edited by Leigh Ronald GrossmanIt said I’d get 40% of my next Kindle purchase. Well, there’s a $40 Kindle book I’ve been wanting but wouldn’t buy because of the high price. It’s a textbook for teaching science fiction. Well, I checked, and it was now priced at $24, 40% less. I quickly bought it. I still think $24 is way too much of an ebook, but I’ve been wanting this book for some time now, and have almost paid the $40 for it a couple of times.

I don’t even know if this involved my promotional credit. It could just be coincidence and this book had a 40% price drop. (Tell me what price you see.)

I’ve researched these credits at Amazon and they seem rather unexplainable. I wonder if they’re just a gimmick to get us to buy more. Or Amazon’s way of justifying to publishers for offering extra discounting.

Does anyone know how these promotional credits work? They’re a mystery to me.

If you buy bargain Kindle books, keep an eye out for your promotional credit. Then go shopping for that ebook you wanted that was priced too high.


Cleaning Up My Kindle Library

By James Wallace Harris, Saturday, April 23, 2016

I had 501 ebooks in my Kindle library when I started this essay. I have 401 now. After reading an article that said 40-45% of all ebooks bought are never opened, I loaded up Kindle for PC, put it in cover view, and scanned my books. Damn, they were right. I’ve been acquiring Kindle books since 2007, and many of those books I had gotten for free in promotions, downloaded for free because they were in the public domain, or ones I bought on the cheap because their authors were anxious for me to try their work. Most I had never opened. Psychologically I assume, I’m buying books for a future, for when I have 72 hours in a day for reading.

This made me contemplate my Kindle library. I love shopping for used books every week and I also love snapping up ebook bargains. But scrolling through the cover images I saw several books I thought I wanted to buy that I already own. Damn! My Kindle library has gotten completely out of hand. I’m constantly buying $1.99 specials because of BookBub, Kindle Daily Deal, Book Riot Deals, or Early Bird Books.

SF Books On Kindle

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon and permanently deleted 100 books I knew I’d never read. This has proven to me that free ebooks aren’t something I actually want. From studying the dates purchased, I had already stopped adding free books years ago. However, I switched to compulsive buying. I bought 146 Kindle ebooks in 2015, probably three-fourths of them for $1.99. Since I average reading one book a week, I’m buying three years worth of reading every year. That’s illogical! You’ll think I’m even more insane when I tell you two-thirds of the books I “read” each year are with my ears, so I’m actually buying about seven years worth of ebooks each year. (I’m not sure if that fractional math works out—haha, a word problem for you.)

It would be a huge help if Amazon created some way to mark books read or unread. I need some method of reminding myself of how many books are waiting patiently for me to spend a week with them. I’m guessing I have a decade’s worth of unread Kindle books in my library. (I need to stop buying those sale ebook!!! It’s an addiction.)

When I scroll through the Kindle library now, I see only books I want to read, or have read and want to keep. But it’s in one big jumble, ordered by title, author or recent (date last accessed). I wish Amazon would let us permanently classify books in their “Manage Your Content and Devices” web application. I can create subject collections, but only for a device, like for Kindle for PC, and sometimes it seems, when the software gets updated, I lose those collections. The photo above is part of my “SF Novels” collection.

In recent years I’ve been buying classic science fiction book when they go on sale for $1.99, and have 70 novels, and 48 short story collections and anthologies. Today, I realized that I need to browse my collection at least weekly, to remember what I own, and inspire me to read rather than shop. Between hundreds of printed books, a thousand audio books, and these 401 Kindle ebooks, I have 30-40 years worth of reading queued up. Since I’m 64, I’m covered for the rest of my life. I should stop buying books. I won’t, but I should. At least, I should browse the covers as often as possible, to remind myself of all those books waiting to be consumed, and at least stop me from buying duplicates. That might slow me down some.

Spending the afternoon working with my Kindle for PC app has shown me the value of looking through my collection. Especially in cover view mode. I wish I had similar software for viewing my Audible books, or even wish the Kindle for PC could manage my Audible collection too. Amazon does own Audible. It would also be nice if I could enter my physical books into the same system, so I’d only need one program to browse my entire collection. I like seeing the covers. There’s software for the PC, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS that allows this, but it would mean maintaining two databases, and that would be a pain-in-the-ass.

Since I buy most of my books from Amazon, it would seem they should be responsible for helping me manage my library.


Rethinking Magazines on the iPad 2 and Kindle 3

Since I’m a gadget freak I wanted to love reading magazines on the iPad and Kindle.  It wasn’t love at first sight though.  Reading a digital magazine takes different skills than reading a paper magazine, and at 60 it’s not always easy to teach an old dog new tricks.  However, I’m an old dog that’s become very near sighted, and having a tablet is like having a handicap device that helps me with my physical failings.

Because I can make the font larger, and the photos larger and brighter, the experience of reading on a tablet wins out over paper, but I’m not saying it’s magical.  Zite, a reading app for the iPad, is magical.  Think Pandora for articles instead of playing songs, because I can’t show you what Zite looks like.  Zite isn’t on the web, it’s only for iOS, Android and webOS mobile devices.  But even Zite is just a start.

We need a new paradigm for magazine reading.

Right now publishers are working hard to make magazines look identical to their printed versions on the tablet screen, but that’s ignoring the power of the computer built into the tablet.  And I’ve got to wonder why I have to page through ads when I pay more for the iPad version of magazine than I do for a printed subscription.  For example I could get Rolling Stone for $20 on paper, but I’m paying $36 for the digital.  WTF? 

If I’m going to pay more, why not make reading easier and forget the printed layout and ads?  But I doubt that will happen.  Zite usually jettisons the ads, and its free.  So, how does that business model work?  It won’t for long.  What’s needed is a paid Zite subscription.

I get The New Yorker on my Kindle 3 and it does leave out the printed formatting and ads.  It’s pure text reading.  The Kindle 3 is much lighter and easier to hold than the iPad, so reading The New Yorker is a pleasure, but not visually exciting.  A step backward, although it’s much easier on the eyes.

When I’m reading just words, whether for a book or magazine, I much prefer reading them on the Kindle e-ink screen, or the retinal display of my iPod touch.  The damn iPad is a pain to hold.  But if I want to see photos I need the iPad.  This is probably why the Kindle Fire is a 7” tablet.  But none of these devices are perfect.  In fact, reading nirvana is nowhere to be seen.

It’s like that new ad on TV for the Microsoft phone that claims up till now all smart phones have been beta devices.  Well, we’re still in beta when it come to tablets and magazine reading.

In fact, I’m ready to give up magazines altogether, either print or digital.  Zite has taught me that, as well as the Best American series of anthologies that come out each year collecting the best magazine magazine writing into ebooks to read on the Kindle.

Magazines have a lot of content I just don’t want to read or look at.  When I could flip through a paper copy it was easy to ignore the crap, but with a digital edition the easiest way to read a magazine is to start at the beginning and flip pages till the end.  That just reminds me of how much content I don’t want to see.

How often have you paid several dollars to read one article in a magazine?  How often have you paid several dollars for a magazine and read none of the articles, just flip through the pages, reading snatches here and there and looked at some pictures?  Magazines are like cable TV, 200 channels when you really only want 8.

What we need is magazine article singles, like buying songs at iTunes.  Articles should be 99 cents for long meaty ones, and less for shorter ones.

Like I said, this transition from paper to digital is making me rethink magazines.  Either digital magazines need to become a whole lot better at providing just what I want for a fair price, or I’m going to either give up on reading magazines altogether, or just go back to paper editions that I only buy with very cheapo subscription deals.

I’m not sure the iPad is the wonder gadget that I thought it was.  Except for Words with Friends and Zite, most of my dozens of app icons go untapped.  I’ve bought some of those fancy multimedia books and never read them.  They are neat for a few minutes, but not for hours.  Most of the digital magazines I’ve bought haven’t been read.  In fact, my New Yorker issues pile up in my Kindle 3 just like how the paper copies used to pile up unread.

JWH – 5/2/12   

The Strange Pricing of Digital Goods

I buy a lot of digital goods and services but I’ve noticed that there is no consistency in pricing.  For example I subscribe to and pay $4.99 a month for access to millions of songs and albums.  Yet, The New York Times wants $15-$35 a month for access to just one newspaper.  $60 a year for 15,000,000 songs versus $180 for 365 issues of one newspaper – can you spot the obvious bargain?

Yet for $7.99 a month, or $96 a year I get access to 75,000 movies and TV shows at Netflix.  $7.99 a month is also the price Hulu Plus charges for thousands of shows too.  So why does one newspaper cost $15 a month, especially since it was free for years.  I love reading The New York Times, but I can’t make myself pay $15 a month for it when I get so much music for $4.99 a month, and so many movies and TV shows for $7.99 a month.  If I was getting access to several great papers for $7.99 a month I’d consider it a fair deal.  But for one title, I think it should be much less.

This makes The New York Times appear to be very expensive.  However, The Wall Street Journal is $3.99 a week, or $207.48 a year. Strangely, The Economist, a weekly is $126.99 a year for print and digital, or $126.99 for just digital. Go figure.

I also get digital audio books from  I pay $229.50 for a 24 pack, which is $9.56 per book, but they often have sales for $7.95 and $4.95 a book.  I can get two books from Audible for what I’d pay for 30 daily papers, but I actually spend way more time listening to books than I’d spend reading the paper online. 

I subscribe to several digital magazines through the Kindle store.  Right now I’m getting a month of The New Yorker for $2.99, but that’s suppose to go up to $5.99 soon.  (What is it about stuff from New York being more expensive?)  Most of the magazines I get from Amazon are $1.99 a month, way under the cost for a printed copy at the newsstand.  The Rolling Stone is $2.99 and I usually get two issues in a month.  So for $15 a month, the price of The New York Times, I get 11 magazines (4 New Yorkers, 2 Rolling Stones, Discover, Maximum PC, National Geographic, Home Theater and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction).  That’s a lot of reading for $15 a month, and a lot of variety.

However, I also subscribe to Zite, an app on my iPad where I do the most of my news reading, and that’s free.  I get free articles from those magazines above and who knows how many more, all for free.  In fact, I spend so much time reading Zite, because it’s customized to my interests, that I’m thinking of cancelling my magazine subscriptions.  But that’s another issue.  Like when I subscribed to paper copies of magazines I mostly let them go unread.

Even if I paid $15 a month for The New York Times I’m not sure how many articles I would read above the 10 articles a month they offer now for free.  I don’t expect everything to be free on the internet, but sadly, paid content has to compete with free.  Zite, which is free, is actually worth $15 a month, because I get access to zillions of magazine articles, newspaper stories, and web blogs.

I’m also a subscriber to Safari Books Online, a subscription library to technical books.  I pay $9.99 a month and get to have 5 books a month “checked out” to read.  I can keep them longer, but I have to keep them at least one month.  So for $120 a year I get to read as many as 60 books, which means the price could be as low as $2 a book.  That’s a bargain when most computer books are $40-50.

And I’m a member of Amazon Prime.  For $79 a year I get unlimited 2-day shipping, access to 12 ebooks (1 a month from their library of 100,000 titles) and unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV shows.  This is another tremendous bargain.  I also buy ebooks for my Kindle and iPad from Amazon.  Costs run from free to $9.99.  On very rare occasions I’ll pay more, but it hurts.  Digital books just seem less valuable than physical books.  I don’t feel like I collect digital books like I do with hardcovers.  I don’t even feel I own ebooks.

Next Issue Media is now offering a library of digital magazines Netflix style for $9.99-$14.99 a month, but only one of the magazines I currently subscribe to, The New Yorker, is part of the deal.  If all of my regular magazines and The New York Times were part of the deal, then I’d go for it.  However, Zite with it’s intelligent reading system would still dominate my reading.  Flipping through magazines is just too time consuming.  What I want is a Zite Plus, a service that provides access to all the free and paid content I like to read.

Can you spot the trend in all of this?

I think most people on the net are willing to pay for digital goods if they get a bargain, especially if it’s part of a library of goods like Netflix, Rdio, Rhapsody, Spotify, Hulu Plus, Safari Online, Amazon Prime, etc.

And there is another issue about buying digital goods.  Some companies charge extra if you use their content on a smartphone.  Rdio and Spotify are $4.99 a month for listening on your computer but $9.99 a month to also listen on your smartphone.  The New York Times is $15/month for reading online and smartphone, $20 for online and tablet, and $35 for online, smartphone and tablet.  Why the heck is that?  It’s the same damn words.  Why would they care where you read their paper.

Netflix charges $7.99 a month and you can watch it on a whole array of possible devices.

JWH – 4/24/12

What is the Kindle Doing to the Science Fiction Genre?

Here is the Kindle Best Sellers in Science Fiction showing two lists, Top 100 Paid and Top 100 Free.

The #1 book on the paid list is A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin.  Okay, that’s natural, it tops other bestseller lists too.

#2 is five John Carter novels bundled together for 99 cents.  I can see that, the movie is getting people to read the old ERB books.

#3 is Ender’s Game – another natural, but it’s old.  I guess people with a new reading gadget are rereading their old favorites.  Cool.

#4 is Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey.  WTF?  Who is Hugh Howey?  And he’s got 277 customer reviews!  In fact, Hugh Howey has several Kindle books in the Top 100 paid.  How did this unknown writer get in the Top 100 Kindle SF books?

Going down this Kindle Top 100 list for Science Fiction I realize that unknown authors are grabbing many positions on both the paid and free Top 100 lists.  There’s a smattering of old time favorite SF writers, Heinlein has two titles, Asimov, one, and a few modern SF writers of note like Dan Simmons and Orson Scott Card have a few more, but for the most part the these best sellers are books I haven’t heard of before, by authors unknown to me.

Is the Kindle changing the reading habits of science fiction readers?  And other genres as well?

My favorite science fiction writer is Robert A. Heinlein, but then I’m 60 and my reading tastes are as old as I am.  When I started reading science fiction in the 1960s Heinlein-Clarke-Asimov were the big three of the genre.  Most of the SF authors I’ve discovered in the last 50 years don’t have books on this list.   Why?  Are they out of fashion, or has Kindle reading habits changed things dramatically?

How are low cost and free Kindle books going to affect professional writers?  Also, notice the name of the publishers of these books – they are unknown to me, so I have to wonder if they aren’t self-published.

Supposedly, Kindle books are outselling all other forms of books, so is this what people are really reading in the SF genre today?

Many of Heinlein’s books are available for the Kindle, but only two are in the Top 100, and one of those is there because Amazon put it on sale last month.  There are many Kurt Vonnegut books in the Top 100 Paid listing, but again, they are on sale this month.  Amazon uses the technique of lowering the price of a book for a few days to get attention and then upping the price.  New, unknown writers, are using the same technique with their self-published books, and evidently its working very well.  Better than book reviews, better than word of mouth reviews.  Establish writers are now using that trick too.  That trick only works with Kindle ebooks.  It would be interesting to see if it worked with printed books.

If you look at Locus Bestsellers for March 2012, many of their books aren’t on the Kindle bestseller list.  If you look at Amazon’s Best Sellers in Science Fiction general list that includes printed books and Kindle books, the makeup of this list is different, but the Kindle books are having a huge impact.  Here is the Science Fiction Book Club Top 100 Bestsellers.  Notice how it’s dominated by series, media tie-ins and non-science fiction titles.   The SFBC has little science fiction.  Not so for the Kindle list.  Evidently would-be writers are very anxious to write science fiction and readers are finding it on Amazon to consume in mass quantities on their Kindles.

There’s more new science fiction, and dare I say, more exciting sounding science fiction by the unknown authors at the Kindle store.  Big publishers push blockbusters and name authors, and media related books, so the unknown writer doesn’t have much of a chance, but that’s not true in the wild west gold rush of self-published ebooks.  Something is happening here, and we don’t know what it is.

The press has been full of stories for the last two years about how ebooks are impacting traditional publishing, but I don’t think they imagined the paradigm change that self-publishing is making on bookselling.  Self-published ebooks are becoming the  universal slush pile for all readers to work through to find that gem they want to make a success.  Discovering a new author and promoting her can become a new form of social networking.

Think about that.  In the old days assistant editors would cull the slush pile for worthy books to show editors.  Getting a book published was a long slow process that winnowed out the bad.  Now Amazon has made free ebooks the slush pile anybody can read.  If it gets a lot of downloads they put a price on it, if it sells, they promote it.  If it keeps selling, they publish paper copies.  If it keeps selling, a big name publisher will grab up the author.

But do we really want to be slush pile readers?  I’m old, and have little time, so I usually go with the definitive classic now, but young people with lots of time seem to have no problem trying an unknown writer.  Those people are pushing Hugh Howey forward.

I’ve thought science fiction has lost most of its vitality in recent years.  Writers have become obsessed with series, trying to build their book sales by pushing a popular character.  That’s comfortable for some readers, but I liked when science fiction writers were always trying to top each other with far out ideas.  I don’t know if the self-publishing revolution will bring back those days, but maybe.

Finally, does it mean if you don’t own a Kindle you’ll be out of touch with the popular reading reality?  Yes!

SF Signal is a good site to keep up with free SF.  They feature almost a daily roundup of free science fiction.  Today Chasing Vegas by Tad Vezner caught my attention.  The customer reviews at Amazon are very encouraging and it has a great cover.  The old saying is you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I don’t know if that’s completely true.  It seems to me, the best of the self-published books have nice covers.  I don’t know if that’s a real indicator or not.  But in this new paradigm of reading from the slush pile I’m not willing to try just any book.  I look for customer reviews and a good cover.  I hope self publishing authors will do two things.  Hire an editor and buy a cover.

JWH – 3/24/12

Dear Amazon, Please Create These Features for My Kindles

Now that I’m slowly becoming Kindlelized I realize I might be reading on a Kindle for the rest of my life, at least if Amazon keeps marketing their ereaders by that name.  Evolutionary steps in the Kindle technology have made reading much easier than book reading, especially now that I’m older with bad eyesight.  However, the Kindle is far from perfect, and I’d like to make a few suggestions Mr. Bezos for future features I’d like to use.

If I’m switching to ebooks then I want a library for my ebooks.  So far Kindles are more like a box for books, not even a bookshelf, and what I need for a lifetime of ebook collecting is a personal electronic library system.

Kindle Cloud Library and Librarian

Once I got a couple dozen books and magazines on my Kindle the interface became annoying and clumsy.  I now read my Kindle books on my Kindle 3, iPad 2, iPod touch, PC and Mac.  My wife owns a Kindle Touch and I’m going to buy one too, and I plan to get a Fire when version 2 comes out.  I also have Calibre on my PC, and Send to Kindle extension for Chrome on all my computers.  And even though the Kindle environment keeps up where I left off in any book despite what device I read on, not all content is available on every device or reader program.

My first request is for a Kindle Library in the Amazon Cloud.  I want one location to keep all books, magazines and documents that will be permanent.  By permanent, I mean the rest of my life.  I want to leave my library in my will.

I want one location to keep clean and organized.  I want one location where I can file and organize my library.  I want to be able to list by author, title, subject and collection.  I’d also like to list by year published, date acquired, books read, books unread, books I want to read, etc.

Once I start getting thousands of documents this will become very important.

I want all my devices to check out books from a single Kindle Cloud Library.  Then when I’m finish reading, I want to clear the book from the device, or even from all devices automatically.  I want to manage one library in the cloud rather than libraries on every device and reader program.

I want to upload my personal documents to the Kindle Cloud Library in addition to sending them to my Kindle email address.

I want a cataloging system too, something simple like the Dewey Decimal system.  Library of Congress is too complicated.

I also want tools for managing my library like a database.  It would be a huge plus if it integrated with LibraryThing or GoodReads, and I could export data to a spreadsheet or database for making printed reports.

It would also be great Mr. Bezos if my Kindle Cloud Library integrated with Evernote.

Kindle Special Collections File Folders

I don’t care how Amazon stores my ebooks and audiobooks, but I want a section of my cloud library for documents I create that works like Dropbox.  I want to be able to organize my documents into folders and subfolders.  It would also be useful to have a tool that converts documents that I want to keep permanently in my library to Kindle’s ebook format, but I want to store Word and Acrobat files too, as well as jpeg photos.  And hey, get rid of DRM and work out a world-wide universal ebook format that will last forever.

Kindle Library Card

I hate the fact that my wife can’t read my Kindle books.  I suppose we could swap Kindles, but that’s messy.  I suppose we could share one account, but that’s messy too.  I want my own library, and I want her to have her own library, but I want to be able to borrow each other’s books.

We need to have a library checkout system for family members.  Spouses and children should have unlimited access to family libraries.  We should also have limited check-out privileges for friends and extended family.

Kindle Interlibrary Loan and Bookstore

When I search for a book in my library I want to know if I own it first.  Then, I want to know if there are public domain editions I can add to my library.  Then I want to know if there are library copies available, either from my public library or from Amazon Prime.  Finally, I want to be told what copies are available for sale.

Kindle Multimedia Library

Because Amazon also owns where I buy my audio books, and I have my music stored in the Amazon Cloud, I’d like to be able to integrate these media into my Kindle Library Cloud.  The Fire is moving towards this now, but I want all my Kindle devices and readers to read all the various kinds of content in my library.  I want my librarian management software to work with all media.

I’d also like to be able to add audiobooks I’ve ripped from CDs to my Kindle Cloud Library.  Ditto for tape audiobooks I’ve converted to MP3s.

Remove from Collection

I also want a way to remove content from my collection.  Whether this is a permanent deletion or shelving in hidden stacks I don’t care.

Kindle Book Match

Now I don’t know if this last request is even possible, but I’m going to ask.  I know some people will never cotton to ebooks, and many people will always want to collect physical books.  I’d like some kind of system like iTunes Music Match where I turn in my physical books and get ebooks added to my library.  I just don’t want to buy books twice like I did with albums when I bought many CDs that I already owned on LPs.  Since Amazon is in the used book business maybe it would take physical books in trade for ebook editions.

JWH – 2/14/12

Rethinking Ebooks

The other day I bought The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson because of a review I read by Eva at A Striped Armchair that was so compelling that I had to buy the book.  I went to Amazon and found the trade edition for $12.21 while the Kindle edition was $9.87, and I thought for $2.34  I’d spring for the beautiful New York Review Books Classic paper edition.  Now that I have that book in my hands, which is a very nice trade paper copy, I’m wishing I had gotten the Kindle edition.  Or waited until just when I was ready to sit down to read it before buying it.  I’m finding several ways the Kindle is making me rethink my book buying and reading habits, and I’m not sure publishers and writers will like these changes.


The addiction to own beautiful books is one thing, but to read them is another problem, and I’m discovering that it’s much easier to read books on my Kindle.  Mainly I’ve been using my Kindle to get free and cheap books, because I’ve always liked to collect books, and owning the Kindle edition doesn’t feel like I own the book.  This is an emotional conflict.  I like holding the real book until it’s time to sit down and read, and then I wished it was on my Kindle so it would be easier to hold and easier to read because I can magnify the font.  But I hate the thought of spending $9.99 for electrons.

Ebooks look better on my iPad, but it’s actually harder to hold than a hardback.  Ebooks are easiest to read on the Kindle.

I took some extra days off here at Christmas and I’m cleaning  up my bookshelves today to make room for all the books I’ve bought in the last few months that are just sitting in piles around the house.  Which brings me to problem #2.  I buy far more books than I read.  I figured I’ve got 40-50 years worth of books waiting for me to read.  I really should stop buying books altogether.  Especially since of the 50-60 books a year I do read, most are listened to as audio books. 

Okay, I’m crazy.  Yes, my name is Jim, I’m an addict.  I’m addicted to book buying.

If I was wise, I’d stop buying books in 2012.  Or not buy any book until I’m in my chair ready to read at which time I can order it from Amazon.  The Kindle really does facilitate a chain reading habit.  Finish one book, order another and start it in 30 seconds.

Collecting ebooks is just plain no fun.  If Amazon kept all my books online in some kind of virtual library where I could admire their number, see their colorful dust jackets, and flip through their pages and feel like Midas with his pile of gold, then maybe it would be fun. But as it stands now, my growing number of books on my Kindle is only annoying because it makes finding a particular book more difficult.  Note to Kindle developers – invent some kind of interface for organizing books into various collections and topics.  Just archiving isn’t good enough.

If I become a total Kindle reader then I’m not going to buy books way ahead of time.  I’m going to assume that anything I want to read that’s in print as an ebook will stay in print as an ebook and I can get it when I actually feel like reading it.  I doubt the Amazon planned for this when it started pushing ebooks.  They probably thought we’d buy books just like we’ve always had but just electronically.

Instead of buying ebooks ahead of time, I might just download the sample chapter.  That will leave a place holder that reminds me that I want to read that book someday.

I bought two more books today, and all my Christmas presents I’ve asked for from my wife are books.  But the two I bought today are picture books, books about western films.  That’s not something I’d want to read on the Kindle.  But I would like them on the iPad if they were fully multimedia.  Whoops – Amazon doesn’t sell iPad app books.  I bought a special iPad edition of The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True by Richard Dawkins.  I’m not sure it would even look good on a 7” tablet like the Kindle Fire.  Now I have to worry about two virtual libraries – one at Amazon, the other at Apple.  And the book by Dawkins is an app, so it won’t even be in the iBooks library.  What a pain for the future.  I’m also thinking about buying the multimedia edition of On The Road by Jack Kerouac, but now I wonder.  How do I save such books for the rest of my life?

I have a wall of books that sits across from my La-Z-Boy where I read.  It’s quite wonderful to gaze at, and to think about all the wonderful books I have sitting there.  Old friends that go back to when I was a kid, and all the unread books that will be uncharted territory to explore.  What will it be like if my library was in the cloud?  Can computer programmers ever develop a virtual library that’s fun to gaze at, or offer just as much fun to pull titles down from a virtual shelf and flip through their pages?  I don’t know, but I suppose some brilliant young programmer will think of something.


[click photo to enlarge]

First, ebooks have changed the way I read.  Now they are changing the way I buy books.  Next they will change the way I store and collect books in my lifetime library.  What will an ebook reader look like five years from now, or ten?  What are the possibilities of a virtual library?  And where will my virtual library reside?  At a bookseller’s server farm?  Or will I pay to keep them elsewhere?  Can we trust our lifetime of book collecting to Amazon, B&N, Google or Apple?  And would I want to have multiple libraries?  That’s already the case now that I have books at Amazon and Apple.  And will I continue to own books?  I stopped buying music because I rent it from music libraries like Rhapsody and Rdio.  Could that happen to books too?

Has anyone really thought what the ultimate results of ebooks mean?  If I stick with Amazon will it be around in 30 years, or 50?

I wish it was possible to rip books like it is for music.  Digital music is so much nicer to manage.  Whenever I move my collection of books and CDs they’re a pain in the ass to box, ship, unbox and re-shelve.  I wouldn’t mind the simplicity of going completely digital, but what will that mean?  If I was a child getting my very first digital book, what’s the chance of me keeping it my whole life?

One way publishers could solve this problem is to give away an ebook edition with the purchase of a hardback edition.

JWH – 12/19/11