Kindle links: Kindle Unlimited, reading experience

The new Kindle Unlimited campaign is smoking out new opinions on Amazon’s strategy [1]. I liked this comparison of the Kindle to the iPod’s early days, and the evolution from buying single songs to streaming music services (Songza is my favorite). The lack of privacy is of concern to the writer, though buying a Kindle or even having an Amazon account means you have opted for convenience over privacy. The local public library (funded by your tax dollars) may offer a little more in the way of privacy and choice (thanks to librarians, not the government) — some observers are not all that excited by the books on offer via the Kindle lending library or Kindle Unlimited. Of course, paying with cash at your local new or used bookstore may circumvent privacy and choice concerns.

Austin Kleon (via his marvelous weekly mailing) pointed me to this critique of the Kindle by a new reader. Pierce makes some sharp observations about the Kindle, especially how the designers chose to glorify the device over the book you’re reading. He also has reservations about the shared-passages feature of Kindle e-books; it’s as if someone is reading over your shoulder and turns what has traditionally been a private experience into an unasked-for shared one.

And I also have the sense he describes of the Kindle separating me from the traditional reading experience. Many books on my shelves double as physical objects I formed a relationship with — they’re signed by the authors, I read this one during that long week in Anaheim, I read this one when I was unemployed and it led me to read these other books, etc.  The reading experience is different on a Kindle; my memories of a book will now be associated to a device rather than a book. Instead of forming a relationship to the book I’m devising a relationship to the device.

For example, if I’m going on a trip and I only have room to carry two books in my bag, then I’m making a commitment to give these books a chance. There are physical consequences of weight and comfort to consider, but I’m also promising myself that I will put in the time to read them. With the Kindle, though, I have maybe 50 or so books and collections I’ve downloaded. Which do I read first, which do I commit to? Does it really matter, since I can choose to flip in a moment from this essay collection to that novel to that e-book written by a friend? No one book will have my full committed attention unless I delete all the others from the device, because it’s the device I’ve committed to, rather than the e-book.

Or such is my current improvised line of thinking on this sunny and beautiful Sunday afternoon, where I am skimming web pages and writing blog posts rather than sitting down to read a book.

[1] I do not plan to sign up for the service at this time. I already have more books than I can eat on my Kindle. And I have more movies in my Netflix queue than I could see if I had a week off. ^

Miss Marple

Before we left on our England trip, I loaded up the Kindle with a few hundredweight of e-books thinking, “Oho, eight hours on the flight over, eight hours on the flight back, three weeks of travel — I’ll certainly rip through more than a dozen books!”

When I write up my lessons learned from the trip, we’ll talk more about the grand foolishness of that master plan (and the foolishness of master plans in general).

Joan Hickson

But I did in fact read a couple of e-books, one of which gave me mild but very real pleasure — namely, Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories, which Amazon helpfully priced at about $2 or $3 just before the trip. I remembered the old BBC series fondly and thought I’d give the old girl a whirl.

They were quite wonderful to read late at night, after Liz had gone to bed but well before I felt sleepy. And reading the stories where we stayed, at bed-and-breakfasts in Bowness-on-Windemere and Chipping Campden — villages both — felt just right for these cozy, delicately spun cameos. [Read more…]

Stevereads on BookTube

Steve Donoghue at Stevereads writes about BookTube, a YouTube community devoted to booklovers. It’s a fun survey of what he loves, dislikes, and questions about the community (why do so many of the vloggers tout Young Adult novels?).

But his joy in the community is in their joy at sharing what they love, particularly the contents of their bookshelves and their bookhauls. Steve shares his own pile o’ books from a single day’s trawling and it’s truly breathtaking. I adore his aside that he doesn’t keep a TBR (“to be read”) pile, because they will all get read.

His haul reminds me of my 20s and 30s when my friend Scott and I would do a book-crawl through all the used bookstores in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. I would often trudge home with bags o’ books, less than half of which I ever read, probably. For me, it was always the thrill of the hunt and the serendipitous discovery — the actual sitting down and reading always seemed a little more dutiful and less fun. Which for a booklover and reader like myself is an odd thing to say, but kind of true. I had more time to read then, I think, but used it less.

In my defense, when my obsession for a particular author or subject took me over — like Chekhov or Hazlitt or Kotzwinkle or Montaigne or Delacroix — I would scarf down whatever I could till only crumbs were left.

Blogs I Like: Sitcom Geek

As Stephen Fry said once upon a time: when I was young, comedy albums were my rock albums.

The first albums I remember buying were remaindered copies of “Another Monty Python Album” and, rather incredibly, Robert Klein’s “Mind Over Matter” (I think because the cover just looked so out-there). [Read more…]

Generic Corporate Promo Video

Everything You Hate About Advertising in One Fake Video That’s Almost Too Real | Adweek.

Satire could be defined as “that which seeks to improve.” Or, as Dick Cavett reported George S. Kaufman saying, “Satire is what closes on Saturday night.” In the case of this video and, particularly, the McSweeney’s piece by Kendra Eash that inspired it, satire now seems to be simply pointing out what we’re already doing. Maybe we’re past all hope of improvement.

(via Daring Fireball)