Wednesday, 28 January 2015

My first Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, Reviews, & Why I Prefer Paperbacks

I took the plunge before Christmas and bought a Kindle. Then come new year, with the offer of a month's free borrowing on Kindle Unlimited, I decided to dive in and explore the joys of Kindle Unlimited. The results were very mixed.

The quality of some ebooks was disappointing. Some were written by people who had clearly never practised what they were preaching, and many were clearly opportunistic exercises trying to generate sales regardless of quality. Others however, were surprisingly good - and I did those authors a favour by leaving reviews saying how much I enjoyed the read.

While I was glad that I hadn't paid out for some titles, I liked the idea of being able to borrow books. After all, if you like the book, you might buy a copy for keeps, so I'm not convinced it's a bad deal for authors. The author royalties on Kindle Unlimited are better than you might imagine too - approximately $1.40 per borrow last time I checked - so it's a good way for authors to get exposure without buyers taking too much of a gamble.

The key in the long run, I think, is going to be down to reviews. Reviews can help to differentiate the good from the questionable. They're also a great way to say 'thanks' to an author who has written a good book that you enjoyed, so do consider leaving a review when you enjoy an author's work.

My conclusion on the Kindle experience? I prefer paperbacks! Kindle Unlimited has been a bit disappointing - I seem to have downloaded a lot of dross. But with regards to the format - ebook versus paperback - I find paperback a more pleasant read. I have the attention span of a goldfish which isn't good on Kindle. When I'm reading non-fiction, I like to flick back through a book when I've forgotten something (or I'm simply confused) and I didn't find it as easy on my Kindle to flick back and clarify things!

I don't think ebooks are a real threat to traditional publishing, although my Kindle will no doubt continue to provide a comfortable way to read PDFs away from the computer, or to get e-copies of books that are otherwise prohibitively expensive.

What's your preference and why?

8 comments:

  1. In another life, before I wrote my first book, I had a book review blog. I preferred paperbacks then over electronic books because I perceived the quality to be better. I refused to review works by electronic only authors. These days, I read books in both forms but with Kindle I pay much more attention to reviews. Books that don't already have several 'real' reviews of at least four stars or better don't merit much of my attention unless they're very new releases by an author I'm already familiar with. That helps me separate the wheat from the chaff.

    As a debut author, Kindle Unlimited (KU) has been great for me. I get borrows every single day. When my book came out, I priced at $2.99 and sold lots and had lots of borrows. When the 'newness wore off (Amazon heavily promotes books published in the last 30 days) and the holidays were over, sales dropped but borrows stayed. I had to drop my price to stay competitive from a sales perspective to a point where I now make more, as you alluded, off the borrows. KU doesn't work for every author though. It's great for unknown indies but not so great for more established writers who have watched as it has severely impacted their income.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great comment. Thanks Anne. :-)

      Delete
  2. Couldn't agree more, Susie. Reading a paperback or hardback is a much nicer experience. I rarely read the electronic version, other than those classics out of copyright I downloaded to my Sony reader from Project Gutenberg - and all of those were simply to replace the printed version I purchased and lost years ago.

    The only advantage of the electronic versions, at least for me, would be they are searchable. However as the reference works I would use are far too old (and also too new) to have an electronic version, that option is not open to me. Generally they do have the advantage of making them available just about anywhere there is a wifi connection.

    Of course this is simply my personal preference. Yet perhaps there is another aspect, similar to the argument between printed and digital photographs. Some time ago I heard a relative had been 'organising' a house clearance following a death in the family. So the vultures had descended on the property and, having had their pick of the antiques, had found old tins brimming with old photographs. Said images had been placed to one side and would soon form part of the bonfire. Appalled I headed round, grabbed said photographs and put them to one side to be examined later. When I did I found umpteen individuals whom I had never heard of but knew who they were because names and dates had been written on the reverse. Among them was an image of a gentleman who employed a chauffeur and a nanny - two people who eventually married and produced their own children (including my mother). Of more interest is the man himself, a part-time cricketer, employer in carpet manufacturing, oh and he survived the attack on the Lusitania. I've used his image to tell his story in an article to be published soon. The remainder of the images I shall make available to those researching family histories.

    This episode highlighted the digital problem. Had these been digital, stored only on a laptop, memory stick, or some other site, with their death and loss of equipment and/or passwords die these images, never to be replaced. I understand the sheer volume of snaps we take today means few are particularly special, but some will be so and will be lost.

    If every book, memory, image, thought, idea, et al are stored digitally in the future, how many will be lost because they only exist in a digital form?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. Thanks Anthony. Yes, that's a very well made point. Remarkable that you managed to save those pics - and work it into an article. Thanks for contributing to the discussion. :-)

      Delete
  3. I agree entirely with your views. I'm an old-fashioned girl at heart when it comes to books and prefer the feel of the page between my fingers. My tendency is also to refer back to earlier passages when I'm reading, and it's so much easier with a printed version. I do own a Kindle but, apart from games — tsk tsk — the only things I read on it are self-help books and the material I review as a member of a reader panel. If it's a book I want to really get my teeth into, it has to be tangible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments Julie. It's definitely easier to flick back with a paperback isn't it. Glad to hear it's not just me!

      It's interesting that no-one's responding with a preference for e-books, because I saw a poll recently where they were apparently favoured over paperbacks, which I found surprising. :-)

      Delete
  4. Great post. I have been a bookworm since I was a little kid. I love to read, so my preference is books but I do most of my reading on my Kindle. I travel a lot and it is much easier to carry a Kindle than books. When I am at home it's a book from my collection. I love the way a a book smells. I didn't like Kindle Unlimited program. Good to know that authors are getting something for borrowed books. As a Prime member, I do get to borrow one book at a time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bernita, Glad you enjoyed the post. It's interesting that Amazon Prime subscribers can borrow one at a time too. I didn't know that! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :-)

      Delete