Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Can you read me now?

In the midst of all these changes in publishing, it's the Verizon commercial that keeps coming to mind. It's the one with the can you-hear-me-now" guy.

At first, I couldn't quite figure out my obsession. And then I realized I was thinking, "Can you read me on that?" "Can you read me on that?" every time one of my friends -- my very ordinary, non-techie friends -- pulled out another device.

I'm probably a bit obsessed with it -- that Verizon refrain keeps running through my head like a rendition of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." But I'm a writer with absolutely NO books available on any other device, except for paper. And paper books no longer seem like they're doing a complete enough job of reaching readers.

This is mostly because the people pulling out the devices don't seem like egg-heads, early adaptors, gotta-have-the-latest gadget type folks. I tell you, whatever is going on seems solidly in the mainstream to me, and I'm pretty sure my books are being missed.

For instance, one of my friends -- a mom -- got her first smartphone a month ago. (And to emphasize her non egghead status: Before this, she just had a cell phone -- like for making phone calls, and that's all.) But this year, when her contract ended, she chose an Android smartphone and she raves about the thing. She loves the apps. She loves that she can take photos with her camera. She was very excited that she could get the Kindle app. "Is your book on the Kindle?" she asks me.

Smartphones must be the perfect gadget for busy moms, right?

This winter, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune published this article: "Older Readers Kindle Fondness for e-readers". An 82 year old and a 67 year old loving their e-readers. Any book you want in large print. You don't have to carry all those books from the bookstore, the library. And if the weather is bad, don't risk it.

And what about the religious? I've noticed that a lot of Christians like e-readers because they can travel with their bible and devotions and lots of books to read. An example is Noel Piper, wife of John Piper, of Desiring God Ministries. And it's not just the Christians -- people of many faiths want to keep their sacred texts with them and have good literature to read on the commuter train.

You're seeing it too, right? I'd love to hear your stories.

Anyway, all this to say that if I have an opportunity to get my book in a digital format, I'll do it. And I'd like it in multiple formats for multiple devices -- Kindle, epub, ipad, iphone, and print-on-demand (in paper) seem like a minimum. (Please tell me what I'm missing.)

As a writer, my first goal is this: to be read, to be found, to be available.

Can you read me now?


P.S. Photo is of a spot along the Cumbria Way in England. Honestly, if you're doing a long walk across England, it's probably best not to be found. Unplugging is good.


  1. I read you, Amy. My mom, who doesn't know how to work her cell phone and hires the Geek Squad when a plug falls out of the wall, got an IPAD last month. She's mad about the thing. You can't tear her away from it. She's so thrilled that she can carry around dozens of books at once she's practically giddy.

    So, yeah, I think that if our books aren't available in numerous formats, we're not reaching as many readers as we could be.

  2. I agree that unplugging is good. I guess with real books you don't have to keep asking 'can you hear me now?'.

    My son, who is a technical wizard, can't stand ebooks, even though he is addicted to his smart phone. He said he doesn't like not knowing how far into the book he is or where he can flip back to find the part he's looking for.

  3. When I search for something in the Kindle store, it shows me titles matching my criteria that aren't on Kindle. And there's a place I can click that says "I'd like to read this on my Kindle." Just so you know, I'm clicking that button for EVERYTHING I feel like maybe reading someday. And I go back and click it every time I think about wanting to read a Timberlake or a Ruby book. Maybe I'll end up buying a copy on paper, maybe I'll end up borrowing from the library, maybe when I get around to it I can get it for my Kindle. I don't listen to audio books these days, but if there were a button, I'd click that too. I want everything now in all forms.

    Click, click, click.

  4. Some of the ereaders allow you to add bookmarks and annotations, which may work for some users. It's amazing how many people mention the aspect about not knowing where you are in the book (halfway through, almost done)... it seems like that shouldn't be hard to indicate somehow. With a little progress bar, maybe?

  5. Yeah, the older folks -- our mothers -- who love the e-readers and ipads! Isn't it kind of astounding? Other tech they don't get, but e-readers, ipads, etc. They love them!

  6. And about annotation: See David Pogue's recent post about this:

    Pages are coming. BUT that said, what I do is buy a paper copy of a book I've read on the e-reader (a Kindle) if a) I want to give it to someone. Or b) if I need it for research. Because yes, you can't flip around, put post-its on pages, etc. It just doesn't work as well for that. So I do end up buying multiple copies. As an author I don't think this is so bad!

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