Lending Books is Bad?

I’ve looked a bit deeper into the Kindle Lending Library and I do have a few issues with it in its current format. For one the titles are currently very limited, which I’ll get into further below. But more annoying is that the only way to browse through the current listing is on a Kindle device and it loads every title eligible for lending without the ability to sort. Now, you can search for an individual title and if it’s available to borrow it will be noted as such. But right now it’s a very sloppy means to discover potential books.

The other issue I have is that the service is very limited. I’m not so much bothered by the one loan a month, but rather that you can only borrow a single book at a time. If the books that are currently eligible to be borrowed remain available for a significant amount of time I guess that’s fine, but there’s no guarantee that what you see right now will still be amongst the titles when you’re able to order it.

What I find interesting, though is that the publishing industry as a whole seem to be against this new service. I’m not entirely sure what the fuss is about. For one, they’re still getting their money so far as that article leads me to believe. As for the promotion angle, how exactly does this lending library differ from people going to an actual library and borrowing the book? I would think it’s more likely a purchase of a book — probably even the actual book being borrowed — is far more likely to happen on Amazon’s website than by standing in a library browsing the shelves. Seems to me the real issue is that Amazon went ahead with the service without the consent of the publishers, but even so the fact remains that the money is still changing hands as if the book wasn’t free to the customer . . . so I guess I’m failing to see how this is such a bad thing?

Oh, well. As far as I’m concerned I think it’s a keen idea, though the actual service itself has a ways to go before it’s robust enough to be truly worthwhile.

Kindle Lending Library

I was searching around Amazon for some gift ideas and happened across this tidbit of information. Amazon’s Prime membership now includes the ability to borrow some Kindle books. I find this absolutely phenomenal for several reasons:

  1. I’ve purchased several Kindle books simply because there was no accessible available at the library. For the most part the Kindle version is a fairly cheap alternative, but more often than not these would be books that I wouldn’t normally have forked over my hard-earned cash for. And unlike a physical copy of a book, I can’t give it away, donate it, or otherwise relieve myself of ownership.
  2. I can no longer read regular print books. At least not comfortably and without the risk of giving myself a migraine. But for better or worse I’m still a book collector. Favorite books of mine in rare editions and autographed books have a permanent place on my shelves and I expect they always will. However, that means I’ve had to purchase two copies of some recent additions to my collection. For the most part, I don’t really mind but there have been a few extraneous purchases that I later regretted. And one physical purchase that happened accidentally and left me with two copies of a book I didn’t particularly enjoy.
  3. Libraries are starting to do this already, including my local library. Though, I believe they using the Nook.
  4. Reading for free does lead towards more book buying. At least it does for me. But mostly, it’s reading for free and free is always better than not free!

More than a year after my initial purchase, I must say I am very satisfied with my Kindle. It’s quite literally the best $150 I’ve ever spent on myself. And was worth dealing with the few bumps in the road with defective and damaged devices at first. But I’m also pleased to see the continued expansion of the Prime membership. I more than utilize the $79 in shipping alone throughout the year, but the addition of more and more free streaming and now this new lending library are really turning this into a well-rounded service.

Ad-Supported Kindle for Lower Price

I’ve been meaning to write up a post about how desperately I love my new Kindle and just haven’t gotten around to it. In short, it was the best $150 I ever spent (I also got the extended warranty).

Now Amazon is offering $25 off Kindle (only the wifi version, at least for now) that supports “special offers.” Basically, screensavers are now “sponsored” meaning they’ll be little more than ads from Amazon and other companies. And a banner of ads will run along the home screen. It actually looks like some of the ads are offers to save money on Amazon, like half off on gift cards or cheaper Audible books.

I’m not really surprised that Amazon has come out with this, but I am glad it wasn’t the initial option when purchasing a Kindle. I’d be really peeved if I only had to pay $25 more to get a version without ads after spending almost a year somewhat ignoring them. Though, I don’t really know if $25 is enough of a drop to justify a purchase, but it’s not a decision I have to make.

Just thought I’d share.

Buyer’s Remorse

Much has been going on here: Yara’s been on and off sick again. School starts in a little over a week. Work is, well, work. I’ve been reading up a storm. And I need to buy a new winter jacket/coat. But since everyone’s been wondering about my new Kindle, I’ll blather on about that.

While the title might make you think otherwise, let me put your minds at ease because I love it. All of the reasons for which I purchased it are exactly as I expected and I think my favorite thing is that because it’s a device that’s supposed to emulate reading on paper it isn’t so overly bright that my eyes are bothered, which is my main issue with using the ereader software on a computer or cell phone.

So whyfor with the remorse?

Well, it would seem that my Kindle was a lemon. I noticed straight out of the box that it seemed like the left side seemed to have some give near the page buttons. Compared to the right side, it felt as if the casing wasn’t put together properly and depending on how I held it there was a slight creaking when the buttons were pressed. However, it worked just fine and so I didn’t feel a strong need to call Amazon.

Anyway, in Amazon’s infinite wisdom, they shipped the cover case in an entirely different order so it finally arrived last week. The Kindle is meant to literally hook into the cover — there are two little groove holes on the left side of the device that lock it into the case so that it opens like a book. When trying to fasten the Kindle into the case it started to restart for no reason that I could understand. Furthermore the Kindle wouldn’t lock into the case. So, I called Amazon and ended up returning the case because I wasn’t entirely sure if it was defective or I’m just too incompetent to get it to work the way it should. (I figure maybe a sleeve would be more ideal anyway, since the case makes it hard to use the left side buttons and of course the most comfortable way I’ve found to hold the Kindle would require mainly using those buttons.)

I also spoke with a Kindle support specialist and we ran through a similar “restart your computer” routine for the device. Which, of course, didn’t fix the problem at all so I had to call back the next day to have a replacement sent out and I boxed up the Kindle to have it sent back straight away.

If all that isn’t bad enough, the replacement Kindle has it’s own issue. Oh, don’t get me wrong it feels like it’s put together firmly this time and it hasn’t restarted or done anything remotely crazy. Well, except for some loos part inside rattling around.

Amazon was incredibly apologetic and in fact they believe this issue is probably due to damage during shipping. So I’m waiting for Kindle Number Three to arrive tomorrow and I pretty much feel that regardless of the cause if this one has any issues I’m officially giving up.

Kindle, Revisited

The big news around these parts arrived in the mail today:

My new Kindle propped up against a stack of five mass market paperback books to show scale

Yes, I finally broke down and bought a Kindle. Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me. While I’ve dug my heels in for a long time1 this is probably the one electronic device that is truly my kind of tech toy. As my Goodreads account will attest I read constantly and there are always a good many books on the horizon to be read next. And while both the local independent bookstore and the library almost always have a stack of books waiting for me to pick up, I’ve also been religiously downloading books with Amazon’s Kindle for PC software.

I’ve mentioned before that while my vision is poor I can read regular print. My issue isn’t so much with text size, though my preference is still for larger print, but rather the spacing between words. Which is why the majority of the books in my possession are hardcovers. It means that I end up spending another $5-$10 over the smaller mass market paperback version to own a book. But large print versions, which would be the most logical and obvious choice for me, are even more expensive than that! This was one of the major draws for me to getting a Kindle since I would be able to manipulate the text size and spacing. And I wouldn’t have to spend more money on an accessible version of a book.

Anyway, the final push to give in and purchase yet another electronic device was made this past weekend. For my birthday I’d gotten a set of books from Raechel and several months later I still hadn’t read them. I’d tried. Three different times, in fact. But much as I was loathe to admit it, the print was just too much of a strain on my eyes to be comfortable for to read. After searching around for a more accessible version, I discovered sadly I was out of luck as there was never a hardcover or large print version made. There was an audio cassette, which is long out of print and the only one I could find was going for $75 on eBay. What I did find, however, was that Audible has the books. And so I signed up for my free trial and got the two of the five books for free . . . and with that made my decision to order a Kindle. (Let me digress a bit here from Kindle talk because I sense a swarm of suggestions coming that I don’t want nor need. I am fully aware of the many services out there that provide blind persons books in accessible formats and I fully support them. But in this particular instance I am focusing on ownership of books that are accessible to me. I not only want to be able to read a book, I want to hold it, have it on my shelf and maybe even have it signed by the author.) Personally, I find it kind of ironic that this would be the deciding factor for me because to be honest I am not a big fan of audiobooks. I’ve always been very much of an auditory learner and I certainly embrace the accessibility they provide to readers with disabilities, but in terms of pleasure reading I enjoy not just the aesthetic of reading but the physicality of it too. And, I think the dull droning of college textbooks — and the fact that they put me to sleep — really killed off what left of any enjoyment an audiobook may have provided. So, we’ll just say that I’m humbled a bit by the realization that my future reading may incorporate far more books on tape than ever before.

As for the Kindle itself, I don’t see it fully replacing all the future hardcovers I will no doubt purchase any more than it will replace all of the books currently on my shelves. I’ve been reading a pretty constant stream of ebooks since first downloading the Kindle software in March and that hasn’t changed my mind in the least; there will always be books I want a physical copy of and there are definitely those that I own and can’t bear parting with. Since placing the order, I did go through all of my books and weed out those I can’t comfortably read. It’s not more than a tenth of the total books I own, but it’s still a pretty stunning pile.2 I’ve not yet decided what I’ll do with them all, especially those that were gifts, but I am sure they’ll find readers one way or another.

  1. If you’re experiencing déjà vu, fear not the state of your fragile mind, I did indeed have this same debate about getting an mp3 player before finally settling on my much adored iPod Touch. Of course, I’m still debating upgrading to the latest generation.
  2. 56 in total, not including the books Raechel gave me for my birthday . . . and the sad thing is my shelves don’t appear any less full!