Monday, May 20, 2013

The Kindle Author Who Has Never Seen a Kindle

In January, I self-published my suspense novel, selecting to include it in the KDP Select Program and making it available exclusively on Amazon. In the month of March I ran a five-day free promotion, one which resulted, temporarily at least, in the book's achieving bestseller status. Over 8,000 people all over the world downloaded Valley of Thracians to their Kindles, and some of them have actually read the book.

All of those potential readers have seen something that I haven't - what my book looks like on a Kindle device. I don't own a Kindle. I have basically written a book for a medium that I have never seen.

While my book is also available in paperback (published by CreateSpace in February), I knew from the start that my primary target audience would be Kindle owners.

Someone else who never saw a Kindle was Canadian communications philosopher Marshall McLuhan, who in the 1960s coined a very popular phrase = "The Medium is the Message." As noted on Wikipedia, McLuhan said that "a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself."

According to John C. Dvorak, writing last year on, writers in the modern era must present their information differently "because the medium interferes with the message." Dvorak says that "a completely new medium has appeared and established itself... It's called the Kindle."

Dvorak states that the Kindle is "not just a different way of reading books... Rather, it is a completely new medium that psychologically changes the way we read."

How does a Kindle change the way we read? "The Kindle is one page that is refreshed to another page," Dvorak tells us. "There is no physical reminder that you have a long way to go to finish the book. It eliminates all sorts of psychological aversions from the reading process."

The Kindle has changed the way we read, but it is not alone in having accomplished this transformation. Today, people read books on their iPads and tablets, and of course on their laptops and desktop computers as well. While I don't own a Kindle, I have read a number of digital books using the Kindle for PC program.

I am a late adapter, if I adapt to a new technology at all. I previously wrote how the mobile phone I carry with me at all times is anything but smart. I have recently considered purchasing a Kindle, but feared that I would be falling behind the times with a single purpose device. In the end, I've elected to buy a tablet, giving me a handheld unit that will enable me to read digital books comfortably, as well as interact with the Internet when I see fit to do so.

I guess I'm not a Kindle author after all. I'm an author who writes for the digital age, and I don't care on what device my books are read. My hope, as an author, is to get my books onto the newest medium, whichever medium it may be. And that's my message.


  1. Wow! It's nice to meet someone else who have never owned a kindle either! I'm with you on this one. I went from my PC to laptop to, like you said not so 'smart' phone (but no complaining) to a tablet, and have never seen how my book looks on a kindle device. A friend of mine owns one and bought my book, I should ask her to let me take a look at it.

  2. Since writing this article I have purchased a tablet, and that is how I now read ebooks (never again on my computer or laptop!). However, the fact remains that I have never actually seen a Kindle.

  3. I am a self-published author. My eBook is available exclusively on Amazon. My fans will need a Kindle, or the Kindle App in order to read my novel. I don't have a tablet, a smartphone, or a Kindle. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one...

  4. (Puts hand up) Thanks for the admission Ellis but being the owner of a tablet (and a smart phone) puts you in an altogether more advanced league in my books.

  5. I must say, I'm a little shocked. Whenever a book of mine goes out, the first thing I do is download it onto my Kindle, iPhone, Android, and PC and pick up a paperback copy to see what it looks like. I'm quite thorough about browsing through the entire book on each device. Unfortunately with this new reading medium, there are a lot of things that can (and do) go wrong between my original, digital manuscript and the final product on a reader's screen. My latest book included absolutely NO quotation marks throughout every chapter, but this was only on the iPhone version! I've no idea how they all just vanished, but the error was immediately remedied (some digital glitch). What if I'd not caught this critical mistake? I'm sure that as time goes on, publishers and tech experts will reduce the potential for such 'glitches', but I truly think it's a good idea to thumb through your book on a digital screen to be sure it appears as you expect it to. In this medium, correcting errors in your e-book is a snap, even after it's published, but someone has to catch them first. I'd rather it be me or my publisher than my readers!

  6. Ellis, you can't beat a book. My children bought me a kindle which I love, but I was thinking the other day, I miss a normal book ! My son keeps me up to date with technology. He bought me a laptop. Which I can't do without now. I love it. I'm learning daily ! Take care Ellis.

  7. There's still hope for you. You now have a smartphone and a tablet. Kindle is but one recalcitrant step away. I bet you'd that one fateful step one of these days. :D

  8. I do read on a tablet a bit w/ kindle app but must confess I prefer a book. And yet I have a kindle book available and am about to upload a second. So your story seems normal to me!

  9. You are absolutely awesome!

  10. I'm reading this on a tablet, but never use it (or my pc) for ebooks, as this strains me eyes a bit too much for my taste. I bought a kindle a while ago, then upgraded it to a paperwhite. This newer version includes gentle backlighting to make the contrast between 'ink' and 'paper' greater. It also allows you to read in the dark. In all, I consider Kindle a vast improvement for reading over tablets, having superior contrast and no glare whatsoever; in fact, the lighter the surroundings, the better you read.

    Having said all that, I prefer a hard copy whenever possible, although I accept that this is due to emotional attachment as much as anything. One thing I enjoy in books is the larger size; one thing Kindle excels at is carrying many books with you on vacations.

    So, my advice would be to give Kindle a go; it has its time and place, and beats any tablet hands-down. But don't give up a good ol' paper just yet...

  11. Interesting. Maybe the advent of the Kindle and other eReaders eliminated psychological aversions for those that had them, but I've never been psychologically adverse to long books. I love my Kindle. LOVE IT. For casual reading I will go as far as to say it's BETTER than a book, which sounds crazy, I know. The codex has been around, how long? Before the first century? But I think (again, for casual reading purposes) we've invented something better.

    I like my iPad too, but for the ease on the eyes and more of the 'real book' reading experience, you can't beat the e-ink that devices like the Kindle use. That being said, I still like the tablets for anything graphics heavy and I still collect rare books (real, physical books), and decorate the house with some lovely (cheap) leather-bound Barnes and Noble publications.

    e-Textbooks were emerging while I was in law school - but I wasn't ready for that. I like my reference materials hard copy.

  12. Good for you! I don't have a Kindle either, but I do read lots of Kindle books on my iPod. :)