21 August 2012 by Vitali Vitaliev
To mark the occasion, my e-publishers threw a nice party at an old London pub. Beer and wine flowed, the pub's famous toasties crunched on the guests' teeth. At the height of the festivities, however, a treacherous thought hit me: what are we actually launching? Where is the product or products? Where are the books?? I know they are somewhere in cyberspace from where they can now be downloaded (or possibly uploaded?) and then read from a Kindle, or another e-reader's, screen. For that, you have of course to own a Kindle, or another e-reader, which, as I knew, most of the guests at the party didn't!
So for the latter it was pretty much the launch of nothing, or of nothingness, if you wish...That was why - as a form of a greeting to all the guests - I had to come up with a highly uncertain address which ran approximately like this:
"LADIES AND GENGLEMEN! LADIES AND HAMILTONS! ENGINEERS AND SPORTSMEN! CATS AND SAILORS! COLUMNISTS AND DRUG ADDICTS! WRITERS AND PEOPLE! PUBLISHERS AND BEGGARS! JOURNALISTS AND GROCERS! MONKS AND NANNIES! PUBLICANS AND REPUBLICANS! CARTOONISTS AND CONDUCTORS! COUNCILLORS AND CRIMINALS! VEGETARIANS AND RASTAFARIANS! PHARMACISTS AND WAR MONGERS! MR PRESIDENT! MRS SECRETARY! MRS CHAIRMAN! MR CHARWOMAN! MR CHAIR! MR ARMCHAIR!..
I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY..."
Kindle books are ideal for launch parties. I remember a brilliant tip from the Spectator magazine's agony aunt "Dear Mary" (alias Mary Killen) advising how to avoid buying a book at a book launch to which you were invited. All you have to do is bring a thoroughly wrapped up book-shaped parcel from home and - at some point during the launch party - clandestinely place it inside a plastic bag, also brought from home. After that, you can continue networking (i.e. guzzling free wine and gobbling complimentary canapés) making sure you brandish and flaunt the bag with its unidentifiable book-shaped load as much as you can which should make everyone assume that you've duly acquired the launched book already. With Kindle books, however, you don't have to resort even to this simple chicanery. Just pat yourself on the pocket and say: "I've got it on my Kindle - uploaded an hour before the party!" You can even say you had bought a thousand copies - no one will ask you to switch on your e-reader to make sure... A thousand copies of a Kindle book should not be too hard to carry: according to Prof John Kublanowski of the University of Berkley, CA, filling a 4GB Kindle to its full capacity, i.e., thousands of average-size books, increases the gadget's weight by a billionth of a billionth of a gram, with each book weighing as much as your average DNA molecule! Not too much of a burden, is it?
E-readers and e-reading are both extremely uncertain - all about dark shades of grey and grey shades of black... E-book titles and covers are easier to conceal on a bus or a Tube train from the prying eyes of some annoying peeping-over-your-shoulder Toms. That is probably why the eponymous S&M variations of Mills & Boon books by E L James are selling like hallucinogenic mushrooms...
Likewise, uncertainty reigns over any attempts to find out how your own book is selling on Kindle. Checking is all but impossible, for all those Amazon best-seller rate figures do not actually mean a lot. In a matter of seconds, a book can travel from being 100,786,456.3 on the list to number 29. You think: "Here we go - I've written a new "Harry Potter!", whereas in actual fact, it was some middle-aged and depression-prone petunia breeder from Pierre, South Dakota, who bought it by mistake thinking it was a sex manual only to cancel the purchase moments later! Despite this, you can't refrain from waking up repeatedly during the night to check the numbers again and again...
Kindle can do almost everything. Except for second-hand, antiquarian and coffee-table books which it doesn't do. Not yet. It can even do the Holy Bible, and I recently downloaded (uploaded?) all 1072 pages of its "Optimised Digital Text Edition". So thoroughly it is "optimised" that, despite countless cross references, I have so far been unable to find any divine presence on its pages. Lots of links, but no God...
One more thing that e-readers do not do very well is cook books, no matter how optimised they can be. Here's an example - Kindle edition of "Many Ways of Cooking Eggs" by Sarah Tyson Heston Rorer - an author with almost as many names as the ways of cooking eggs listed in it. It is a truly useful book with only one serious drawback: after the first dozen of eggs break above it, it becomes virtually unreadable (for the book of course rests in front of you on the kitchen desk ready to consult), simply because half of the eggs inevitably end up on top of the screen rather than in the middle of a sizzling frying pan. As a result, the device quickly gets not only dirty, but also sticky, and pressing a page-turning button can lead to having your right-hand index finger glued to it. And when you try to release it with two fingers of your left hand, they stick to the smudged e-reader too.
It can get even worse when consulting another useful (and free!) Kindle cook book - "Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes and Sweetmeats" by Miss Leslie. Imagine the degree of both stickiness and smudginess that can be achieved with all those Miss Leslie's pastries, let alone sweetmeats! A friend of mine advised wiping my Kindle with a towel after every spillage onto its screen. As a result, not just my fingers, but the towel too became inseparable from the device, and my wife had to cut them apart with a kitchen knife.
In the end of the day, the would-be Kindle chef's only available option is to chuck the egg-yolk-oozing e-reader, together with the botched up meal, in the bin.
The alternative is of course a disposable one-off Kindle, or else its un-smudgeable and non-stickable version which, I am sure, is being developed as we speak...
Like most authors, I used to be a staunch Kindle refusenik. But now I am proud to call myself a Kindle convert. I absolutely adore my e-reader, carry it with me everywhere and cannot imagine my life without it. It is a great feeling to be able to carry my 150 or so favourite books of all time up/downloaded in my pocket. It is also nice to have my own (I mean authored by me) books on Kindle (or should I say "for Kindle"?) too.
NB. My latest books "Life as a Literary Device" and "Passport to Enclavia" have just been made available for (or on?) Kindle by Thrust Books
Posted By: Vitali Vitaliev @ 21 August 2012 10:19 AM General
18 September 2012 by suhad jehad
|Posted By: suhad jehad @ 18 September 2012 09:19 AM : Post a reply|
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