I was down in Denver for a work event, and I had a little spare time before it began, so I visited a Best Buy across the street. I did my usual wander through the store, checking out the latest electronics and Blu-ray discs, and after a while I found myself standing in front of the e-reader selection. Best Buy carries the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Sony Reader, and the Amazon Kindle. Not to mention the Apple iPad. I spent a few minutes checking them out.
There are obvious advantages to each device. You already know them. The Sony device has a nice, bright color touchscreen that displays picture books (not to mention book covers) with rich clarity. The new Nook offers the same kind of thing. Ditto the iPad, which to me feels garish for books but seems just right for magazines or newspapers like USA Today. To me, these three devices offer eye-catching displays that are great to look at in Best Buy but that would get quite old in the day-to-day routine of actually reading books. When I read a book, I don’t want the paper to glow at me. For the same reason, I don’t particularly enjoy reading long texts on my PC.
So that’s why I kept going back to the Kindle, whose interface is most like that of a book. The unfortunate aspect of the Kindle’s brand of interface design is that, in a consumer electronics store, under the bright lights, it looks the most outdated—a relic, almost. It looks like parchment, sitting there next to high-end tech marvels. And yet, bring it home, and it’s a modest revelation.
Anyway, that’s not really what I wanted to get into today.
I ended up playing around with the Kindle, and I have to admit that I experienced a Chris Matthews “thrill up my leg” when I was able to download a sample of The Naked Dame to the device and just leave it there for any future passerby to check out. There it was, the pulpy cover (which admittedly looks its worst on the Kindle, with its lack of color and at thumbnail size), and—most important—the opening 10 percent of my novel.
And then I thought … hey, I should make a circuit of Best Buys throughout Colorado and leave The Naked Dame open on all their Kindles. It would be a form of guerrilla marketing! Sure, the cost of gasoline might be prohibitive, but it would be a fun book-awareness initiative. I could at least stop by the Best Buys along the I-25 corridor on my way home to Fort Collins! I was laughing to myself as I thought this, but I was halfway serious. Wow, what a marketing-minded person this hopeful novelist is becoming.
But then, I noticed that after a minute or so, the Naked Dame sample automatically disappeared from the display-unit Kindle, and I was left staring at a barren menu.
So much for that wild idea. I guess I’m glad it blanked while I was standing there. I might still be racing from one Best Buy to another.
All that being said, as of today, I’ve sold 74 copies of The Naked Dame, and the vast majority of those (65) are for the Kindle. That makes me happy—it validates my thoughts about the e-readers themselves. But is it because people generally prefer the Kindle for their book-reading, or is it simply because buying my book in that format—directly from Amazon onto the Kindle—is easier than buying the Smashwords version and taking the extra step of downloading the book to another device?