Rebuttal: In Defence of the Kindle, a Guest Post by Author, Ryan Casey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Image courtesy of alienratt.)

I’m going to put this out there right away: Amazon’s Kindle is one of the most important innovations in publishing history.

I’ll give you a moment to recover from that hyperbole.

Done? Good.

Many authors and writers are sceptical of Amazon, and its KDP program. Often, the argument is that there are far too many ‘bad books’ out there, and by opening the gates and letting a flood of wannabe writers storm through, quality control becomes irrelevant. After all, with no judge of quality, how to we distinguish a good book from a bad book?

Another argument is that the death of physicality is something to mourn. The days of flicking pages against your nose to get a waft of a fresh new book are passing. Soon, the spaces where our magazines and CDs once sat will be empty, nothing but dust taking up the void.

I want to dispel both notions in one post, whilst arguing for the Kindle and Amazon’s KDP program.

Ready? Let’s do this.

1.       Bad books always have, and always will, exist

The argument that KDP ‘undermines’ the work of the published author by clogging up the store with a load of second-rate indie first-drafts is one I’m uncomfortable with. After all, haven’t bad books always existed?

Without naming names, I started reading an absolutely awful book the other day. It told me how the protagonist felt. It was packed to the core with writing faux-pas, and the characterisation was poor. To my surprise, the book had been picked up by a major publisher, and appeared to be selling okay. I put it down, and moved onto another one that took my fancy.

The truth is, I didn’t really care whether either of the books were self-published or not. I cared whether the story was engaging, and the writing was to a suitable quality. The idea that we’d be more likely to purchase a bad traditionally published book than a good indie book is absurd, so why not the same quality treatment for self-published works in general?

Just because there are more books out there doesn’t necessarily mean quality is dipping. I like to think that the self-publishing revolution makes the reader the judge of quality, rather than some publishing house looking for unrealistic profits.

And, with more bad books come more good books. So why not focus on the positives for a change? This article from Rachel Thompson does a good job of doing exactly that.

2.       Physical books won’t die, and if they do, is it a big deal?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Image courtesy of Mr. T in DC.)

Stop the press: the rise of the Kindle does not mean the death of paperback books. PoD publishers like LuLu.com and CreateSpace offer quick, simple ways for authors to turn their digital books into physical ones.

However, if physical books were to ‘die’ – which I absolutely do not think they will – then is it really such a big loss? The only real benefits of the print book over the digital copy is 1.) gratifying those materialist impulses deep within us all, and 2.) showing off how literary we are by displaying our wonderful library of books. Is that Tolstoy, I see? How wonderful! Now, pass me a beer.

Sure, I will be print-publishing my debut novel, What We Saw, mainly because I am just a raving materialist loon who can’t wait to give my own book a good ol’ sniff. But I’m not sure if I’ll create print books forever. Perhaps one or two for vanity, and obviously to sell to those without an eReader. A few years down the line though… I’m not so sure.

3.       Amazon actually care about authors

In defence of KDP, I actually like Amazon. Sure, they have some scary looking terms and conditions, but don’t all publishers?

For me, the 70% royalties for books priced above $2.99 does it. Admittedly, this might not stay like this forever, as competition increases, but it shows that Amazon give a damn about authors and actually care about the fact that our breed have been underpaid for years.

It’s great for the readers too. Whilst I am against the 99p culture at present, it means that authors can provide their books at reasonable prices, thus reaching a wider potential audience.

I realise I am going on a little bit now. I’ve outlined my thoughts on self-publishing in the past (http://ryancaseybooks.com/why-ive-made-the-decision-to-independently-publish-what-we-saw-part-2/) so do feel free to have a gander.

Although, I still think that the digital revolution is still in its early stages. Everything could change in a matter of moments. The rise of ‘free’ culture is sure to have a knock-on effect on the book industry, so I guess we’ll see the results of that in years to come.

We live in exciting times. Let’s embrace the amazing tools at our disposal, because I truly do not believe there has ever been a better time to be a writer.

Ryan.

Author description:

Ryan Casey is a 20-year old author from England. He is set to launch his debut childhood mystery novel, What We Saw, in Autumn 2012. He offers writing advice, social media guidance, and documents his writing journey over at http://ryancaseybooks.com

Twitter: @RyanCaseyBooks

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RyanCaseyBooks

Contact: contact@ryancaseybooks.com

From K.C. Mead:

Thank you for the terrific guest post, Ryan! You raise interesting points in debate with my former post, Why I Still Don’t Own a Kindle.

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10 thoughts on “Rebuttal: In Defence of the Kindle, a Guest Post by Author, Ryan Casey”

  1. May I say that I fully and completely agree with you. I am getting not tired but exhausted of people who try to assault, are rude to and geniunly dislike the very notion of the e-book without noting its benefits and without having an e-book, and worst of all – without even trying it.
    I happen to have a Kindle 3 and am in love and completely obsessed with it (http://justenglish.me/2012/07/23/my-kiki-love/ ).

  2. I love my Kindle.
    I can carry all the books I am reading with me at one time. Even Ryanair can’t stop me. I can read non-fiction books that I wouldn’t normally carry about – read bite-sized chunks and let my brain digest them whilst I read something light. My new library of 100+ books takes up no room in my tiny and already bursting at the seams house and some of those books I also have in print form. Sometimes buying a digital copy makes me buy the print copy. If I love it. If I decide it’s a dip-in-dip-out ‘loo’ book I want to share. If I think someone I know would enjoy it too.
    I love the ability to sample and decide at my leisure why to buy or not.
    And my husband, who also has a Kindle, regularly forgets his glasses and puts the print size up so he can read it without them.
    But I am still slightly iffy about digital publishing – I’d like my book to be a ‘proper’ book. There is and will always be room in my life for both digital and print books.

    1. I do agree with both you (Pat) and JustEnglish.me in that I do not at all have a problem with e-readers or e-books in and of themselves. The invention is amazing and has truly, I believe, socially beneficial qualities.

      However, I would say that my argument is not that e-readers the invention are awful or wrong or inferior in some unnameable way to hard copy books. However, I do find some of the larger business practices of Amazon the business unacceptable. Thus, for some of the same reasons that I try to avoid big businesses like Wal-Mart and buy Fair Trade products whenever possible, I am avoiding buying e-readers and e-books from Amazon.

  3. Having been an avid “book” reader, all my life, I made the decision to purchase a Kindle last month. I did this against what I thought was my philosophy as I never thought that I would take to digital media. Now, having read three books on the Kindle, I find it more convenient in every way from purchasing, downloading & reading.
    The aforementioned doesn’t mean that I will never buy another physical book, again, but it’s nice to have a convenient alternative.
    Thanks to you both for an interesting debate & good luck with your respective projects.

  4. It’s certainly a fantastic debate. For authors who aren’t fond of Amazon’s business practices, I have a question for you – which is your favourite alternative, at the moment? It would be interesting to hear. 🙂

    1. For booksellers, I tend to go indie — for example, Book People in Austin or Pals in Portland. For book publishers, I like to go non-profit like Dzanc Books. Check out the Literary Loft — they’re amazing!

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