Saturday, 22 November 2014

My First Week With A Kindle Fire

So, like, I finally joined, like, the modern world this week and bought a Kindle Fire. Here's some of my early observations in, like, the form of a top ten and stuff.

1) Most books are competently written nowadays.  However, is Competence a benchmark to strive for? I do wish Indie authors would try a bit harder to shine. I love a beautiful sentence, a wonderful paragraph. Story is only one aspect of being a writer. (Or maybe Indie is different?)

Where Are The Outsider Writers on Indie?

2) There are a few exceptions. There are two books on my Kindle fire which are shamefully bad. Not dirty or filthy, but just shit. 

I wonder what thought process underpins their decision to publish? Who are their friends? Who encouraged the publication? One of the books - from a relentless pimper on my feed - is so mangled, particularly with Tense, I felt like taking the Kindle back to the shop. Surely someone close to the man must have noticed the flaws in advance?

3) I tended to flick from book to book with all the gimmicks on there. So, at one point, I found myself reading six books at once this week. if I got bored with one, I would switch to another. 

A Kindle Fire is manna from heaven for an ADHD sufferer or someone who likes a read after an afternoon session on the crack pipe.*

4) You get huge contrasts, switches that seem perfectly normal on a Kindle. I am currently on an Australian mission so yesterday, I switched between Gladys Quintal's Life After Hell: - dark and harrowing, a solid true life memoir of sexual abuse, which made me angrier than I have been in a long time, and Rebecca Raisin's Bookshop On The Corner, a romantic novella so sweet, innocent and accessible, it would make her a millionaire if it could break out of the e-book bazaar into Waterstones or Liongate.

I wouldn't contrast like that with paperbacks, which seem much more mood dependent.

5) Writers. If your novel doesn't have a strong first chapter, its unlikely I'm going to reach your second, unless you are a friend of mine. 

Thanks to the Kindle, the art of finishing a book (my strength) is far less of an asset than the ability to start strongly. 

But then you know that already. I'm boring you. 

So why not put it into practice? *wink*

6) The reading experience on a Kindle Fire is completely different. I can't explain it. I just can't connect with a screen based book in the same way as I can a paperback. Emotionally, I mean. 

E - books don't linger.  Take After The Sucker Punch.** 

While a superb book like that is going to be memorable in whatever medium it is read, in paperback, you are talking a completely different emotional experience, the difference, say, between watching an Opera on TV or live, in the flesh.

7) Thus, I'm going to fill my Kindle with cheap books and if I like your stuff, and its available in paperback, I'll buy it in that media and ditch the e-book, Kindle Fire or no Kindle Fire. 

In a sense, the device in itself has become a marketing media, which is intensely post-modern, innit.

8)  Thus Part II. I am not going to buy an expensive e-book unless it comes with added extras. Remember those old comics with the Free Gifts? Weird plaggy flying machines or badly moulded toy soldiers? That's what I mean. 

Some of your books are ludicrously expensive. I don't know whether its the publisher in charge, or just your own weird bloody mindedness, but if I think that your book is too expensive to buy, someone else will also think the same. 

Check the bazaar to see what other similar authors are charging.

Readers don't know in advance if your book is a nugget or not and evidence suggests that as the price rises, the more risk averse a reader becomes.

9) Buy a Kindle Fire holder. I bought one so cool I felt like the Fonz on the bus home yesterday.

10) Er...I've run out of numbers.' looking. And, er, it', got Twitter on it...and er...(shepherd's hook approaches)

* That bit was a joke.

** Have you bought it yet? It's a brilliant book. Seriously. Stop fannying about and buy it. 

And no, I'm not Lorraine as someone archly suggested last week, which made me laugh and that.


The Scribes of Seely is out.

Buy the Brilliant Books Anthology here and support a reluctant readers project


  1. Do you really think most indie books are written competently? I don't. Also, I must take you to task. Comments like 'is indie different' enforces the different between the self and the traditionally published, whereas surely if we are to be seen as buyable/readable as the latter, it is best not to differentiate? Just 'books' and 'writers'. Anyway, that is wot I think! :)

    People do notice flaws in advance, but people don't like to say, I think! I always remember a friend of mine being amazed that one of my books was 'just like a real book' (!!!!). I know you've had people being brutally honest with you, but many family members and friends won't say "um, you can't actually write very well."

    Totally agree with you on price. Someone I'm a bit chatty with on Twit brough out her debut recently - I would have bought it if it wasn't £4.85. Nearly 5 quid for a Kindle book from an unknown??? You're having a laugh! Same goes for ATSP - I've taken note of your recommendations but it's over £4!

    I don't find the reading experience different with a Kindle. I thought I would, but I don't. The words are all that matter :)

    1. Here's what I mean by Competent, Terry. Of the forty two e-books I have on my Kindle Fire, forty are competently written. There are words, sentences and paragraphs which occur in order. There are chapters, and there is a semblance of a story. Characters are differently drawn and you can recognise who is talking without tags. There are some attempts at description so you know where everyone is. Tense errors, if any, are explicable and ambiguous. In short, the 101 #writetippers have done their job. What I see on my Kindle Fire is recognisably a book.

      But then, I have picked up these books on recommendations, through friends like you, and through my twitter feed so there is an element of self-selection here.

      What I have noticed though, is that people really do need to think about themselves as authors, grab hold of the nettle and push back the boundaries, to badly mangle a couple of metaphors. Its all very samey out there. Do you agree?

      Terry, let my buy you ATSP for Crimbo, Paperback for the bath? (The PB is great value). I am desperate for your opinion because I genuinely think I have stumbled upon a masterpiece and I know you are brutally honest, which I sometimes need.

      My advocacy of paper books is entirely personal. I have friends who think I am a resurrected dinosaur and while they are wrong in most cases, they may be a touch right about this issue :D Marky

  2. I've had a Kindle Fire for a couple of years now and it is loaded up with hundreds of books, some of which sadly I shall probably never get to. Having cheaper access to the ebook has meant I've bought (or downloaded offer for free) loads of books from many different genres and found myself reading things I would never have done before. I love the fact you can download the public domain works for free and picked up 'Notes from the Underground' by Dostoyevsky just this week after Phil's interview.

    I never thought I would get on with it so well and would miss the paperback and whilst I enjoy those, of course, most of my reading is now done on this. Yes there are some turkeys on there but there are also some real gems that I wouldn't have come across without it.

    My main criticism? It's heavy. I usually read in bed and if I'm reading something perhaps less than gripping, the Kindle landing on my face as I nod off is considerably more startling than a good old paperback!! :-)

    1. It is heavy, isn't it, Georgia. But then, it does all the other stuff like Twitter and FB. I had a blast on it last night. There is lag on the keyboard and it took ages to send messages, but that might have just been me. You make a good point about genres and exploration. I probably would never have read Rebecca's impish BOTC, Katie's funky "Prada and Prejudice" and Gladys' harrowing "Life after Hell" were it not for e-books, so I am grateful for the opportunity.
      Hope you enjoy your Dosteovesky. I have all his books in PB and "The Gambler" is a masterpiece. However, to follow on from the point I made to Terry, it would be an unlikely candidate for publication as it is just too deep and probably not "entertaining" enough.
      Oh well...I have this thing about Indie pushing back the boundaries of what is possible - and it will do, I am sure. :) Marky

  3. Oh, YOU! I came here because I was interested to read your view of the Fire (most of which I'm in agreement with) and was humbled by the mention. Thank you, Wiz... you know how much I appreciate it. And no, the last time I checked you were not Lorraine! :)

    As for the quality of indie books: you and I have chatted about this before and I find many of the same deficits as you. I think without the qualifying, managing function of "gatekeepers" (i.e., story editors, formatters, narrative consultants, etc.), some who simply don't have the skills or aren't as concerned (or maybe as aware of or vigilant about) about quality standards and impeccability put out the kinds of books you will likely not finish on your Kindle. I come upon those more often than I'd like as well. The problem is, the authors putting out those books are clearly unaware of the problem... like those dreadful singers who'd audition for American Idol then get positively OUTRAGED that Simon Cowell said they were drek. Some are not as tuned in as others to their own limitations.

    What I appreciate with the Kindle, beyond the fact that it's easy to hold (yes, with a cover!), flip through pages, and get my titles immediately, is if the book does end up being drek, it's less money and fewer trees wasted. There's at least that... :)

    1. You see, Lorraine. My critic is going to write to me now and tell me that I am corresponding with my own sock puppet!! :D I'll post your photo from LA yesterday on my FB line,

      Lovely to see you. If you check my response to Terry - that's Terry Tyler, a brilliant UK author of women's contemporary fiction - you'll see my definition of competence, or a version of it, and I am heartened about how competent authors actually are. I just don't think they sparkle. I think we've reached the point now, seven years on where we need to glisten like that Tiara you wore yesterday, and I'm not sure its happening. Authors seem to be risk averse. The systems and processes by which publishers pick out books are deeply flawed, but - paradoxically - at least they occasionally picked out a Post Office, an Ask The Dust, a Postman Always Rings Twice, a Fight Club or an Infinite Jest or a Goldfinch and took a punt.

      You would think that Indies would take a risk, but its all about sales so they don;t. A great many debut novels flopped. Did you know that James Joyce's "The Dubliners" had an initial print run of 500 and Joyce paid for 325 himself? That's Joyce. Let's take risks, people!

      Agree with the tree comment, totally. Its the huge weakness in my position. Hope the reading went well yesterday! Marky.