Thursday, August 27, 2009


For my 30th birthday (two weeks ago), my husband gave me a Kindle. I am very excited about this gift. Especially when you consider that my husband gave me a broken leaf blower that he purchased at a swap meet for my 29th birthday. I did ask for a Kindle, but I really wasn’t sure how much I would like it. I normally listen to two or three audio books a week, so I didn’t know how much time I would have available for e-reading.

It turns out that I love my new Kindle. And I expect as time goes on I am only going to learn to love it more. The thing that I am enjoying most isn’t actually reading books on my Kindle, but reading free sample pages. Amazon does have the “look inside” feature on most of the books they sell online. This enables you to read two or three pages online before you buy it, so you know it is a book that you actually want to read.

This feature manifests itself on the Kindle with the ability to order sample pages for free on any book that is available on Kindle. This sample is usually about two chapters. This is just enough to get a good idea of a writers voice and narative style, even if I don’t learn the entire plot of the story. I am also able to gage the stories hook and determine how quickly I am emersed into the fictional world I’m reading about. I now feel a bit like an agent requesting partials from already published authors. As a writer, I know how crititcal the first two chapters of a book are, so I have gone about ordering the free sample pages of every single book in the genre I’m currently writing that is available on Kindle. Yeah, I know, I’m totally OCD.

What can I say. Obviously, I’m loving this wonderful new toy. Some of the books start out very boaring. Other’s have a great voice, but don’t seem to be going anywhere. Some are extreamly timely, meaning they will be extreemly outdated in a few weeks. Then there are a few story beginnings that are simply magical. Those are the books that I turn around and buy. So now all of a sudden I am reading the books that I wish I had written. Really amazing books that I love even more with each turning page.

I am still listening to two or three audio books a week too, just because I’m me and it’s painful for me to not spend the majority of my time listening to audio books. A few of the books that I’m listening to are ones I started on my Kindle, than turned around and ordered in audio. But my listening que and my reading que tend to be two different lists.

This extream focus on books beginnings, has also forced me to think a lot more about book endings. When I do break down and read/listen to an entire book, I have an expectation to like it. The books I don’t think I will like, I quit after reading the free sample. So when a book comes to an unsettling ending, it really pisses me off. In the past five days I have read/listened to four books (two audio and two on my Kindle). Two of these four books had horrible endings. One seriously pissed me off and made me all of a sudden hate a book that I had been loving up until about the 90% complete mark. The other book just ended without any point or conclusion and made me feel like I had waisted an entire day reading it. There was no point, just a few mildly interesting characters with unique enough voices to make me want to read more than the first chapter.

Hopefully as I continue to play with my wonderful new e-reading machine I will magically learn how to write not only great book openings, but also great book endings. Plus, I’ve had a lot of people come up and ask to see my Kindle while I’m reading on the train. So I’m making friends and planting X-mas gift ideas in people’s heads at the same time. A double win.


MeganRebekah said...

I love my Kindle too, and the sample pages are one of my favorite features. Only once since I got the Kindle six months ago have I been disappointed by a book that I bought after reading the sample (and that was because the writing was great but the storyline didn't live up to its potential).

Jennifer Shirk said...

Cool! I have a SONY reader and love it, but wish I had the wireless download.