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Daniel I Russell - Writer of Horror Fiction


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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Biting the Bullet

Okay, so I'm a little behind the times, as usual. This week I decided to buy a Kindle. Now for someone who is a keen reader of 'real' books, I liked my partner's idea of writing a few blog posts to monitor how things are going and how I'm settling in. Will this be the start of a new generation? Or simply another electronic gizmo for my toddler to erase things from, ie, that zombie game on my iPod Touch, damn it.

First though, why now? They aren't exactly new things in the market place.

With the release of TALES OF DARKNESS AND DISMAY from Dark Continents, I suddenly find myself with a big bunch of great ebooks to read. Normally not a problem, as I can use Kindle for PC or iBooks on my iPod. But combine this with the ongoing submissions for Midnight Echo #7, the promotional campaign for DARKNESS AND DISMAY as well as usual writing...that's a lot of time sat at this desk. It's the summer holidays. I don't want to spend it all at a desk, indoors, surrounded by fans. That's electric fans, not the kind that buy my books.

Except this one. My number one fan... KACHOW!

With readers complaining that some books are only available on the Kindle, I had to go with that. Yes, filthy Amazon trying to destroy the competition with your sneaky tactics in the way of business and contracts, it swayed a purchase. Had to bite my tongue when the guy in JB HIFI was trying to sell me one of the many ereaders they had (but no Kindles). Yes, the guy who welcomes you through the door (who for some reason I think is an ex-con, but I'm too afraid to ask) was telling me all about the publishing business. Anyway...

Then on to Dick Smith's, who had the Kindle and the 3G version in a lovely display. I wanted to grab one, pay for it and run (my toddler was a bit too enthusiastic about the radio controlled Marios they had), but I had to do the dance with the salesperson first.

Me: I'd like one of these Kindles please (and in hindsight, I couldn't have opened with an easier sale, could I?)

Her: Would you like the 3G? (Obviously more expensive. The electronic retail equivalent of 'would you like fries with that?')

Me: No, just this one. You can download via the USB cable direct from your desktop, so that's all I need.

Her: Yes, because with the regular Kindle, the pack comes with an included USB cable. You hook that up to your desktop and you can download books directly onto the Kindle. (Long look from me. Didn't I just say that?). You're probably wondering why the regular Kindle doesn't have a keyboard.

Me: The keyboard is built in. You push that button there with the picture of a keyboard on it.

Her: Most people want to know why there's no keyboard, but if you push this button here (push!) look, the keyboard is built in.

(This woman was like a verbal anti-editor. She takes what you've said and simply adds more words)

Me with a big smile: That's great! (My son's now trying to take out the $100 Mario Kart toy from out the box) I'll take it.

Her: You will of course need a case. I've had so many customers this week bring them back with broken screens. We have these (expensive and horrible) leather cases.

Me: Do you have any others?

Her: No.

Me: Then I'll leave it thank you. (Son is now driving Mario around the printer and cartridges section, trying to fire red shells at a couple considering an Epsom).

Her: And there's the extended warranty. The manufacturer warranty is one year, but we offer-

Dan falls to knees and weeps: I said I wanted to buy one! I tried to make it simple! Why won't you just take my money? Why?

Customer: Miss? My Kindle screen's broken and someone dropped a banana skin in the middle of the store...

So I eventually got out of the shop with just a Kindle, no case, and no extended warranty and all it cost was just over $100 and some dignity.

One thing this has over my old system of reading from iBooks is that the screen has a matt screen (mmmmm....matt screen) so it won't hurt your eyes with a backlight after a while. Bad side, you can't use it to light your way to the candles when the power goes out. Ah, trusty iPod, you've saved me from many a bumped knee.

I tinkered on the way home, and actually, the device is pretty simple to use and surprisingly basic. There's no bells and whistles, just books. Means no distractions, which is a good thing.

At home, the problems started.

What do you mean, thou art not authorised? And what happened to my pdfs? Thou art a piece of shit.

My books wouldn't go from Kindle for PC to the device, nor did it let me do anything, really. It took some technical jiggery pokery at first to get everything happy with each other, and now it's relatively simple to buy from Amazon and get it were I want it. Also big thanks again to Jim Mcleod for recommending the program Calibre to sort out the pdf issue.

So what have I read? Nothing. Har haaar! I wanted to finish my latest read, which was a 500 page solid hardback. A proper book.

I can't give up the hardstuff, but in a week I'll check back in on how I'm doing. Never thought I'd see the day when I bought one of these things. Time will tell. At least I can read TALES OF DARKNESS AND DISMAY in the garden now. Might go give that a go actually...

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