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Friday, 27 November 2009

Amazon's Kindle for Christmas - Fuel for thought

From Oct 7th newspaper, "We’ve heard whispers for months, but this morning Amazon snapped its fingers and made the Kindle available in the UK, as well as 99 other countries around the world."
At the moment you have to place your order through and have the device shipped to Britain (complete with a US power adapter).
Amazon says “in the future, we plan to introduce a UK-centric Kindle experience, enabling you to purchase Kindle and Kindle books in sterling from our UK site.”
The cost at the moment is £217, as an import, but I have spoken to two people who have asked for it for Christmas. Admittedly, they are both academics, who will use its vast library of classics for reference whilst teaching. But both said they would be downloading novels too, and regretted that there was a limited choice.

Recently delighted by my cover for my debut novel, I wonder what this will mean for the cover artists and layout designers who work so hard to make our books attractive and tactile on the shelves with full colour, gold-foiling, embossing, cut-outs and so forth.

An even more important question then, will be how will our books be judged if not by the cover? Does it mean that there will be less of a concentration on big names, and more opportunity for the discerning reader to choose a book from a carefully worded blurb, i.e words, rather than from an image?
It could mean that those books that cross genres will be freed from the necessity of being pigeonholed to a single readership, by a cover that attracts only one sort of reader.

I'd be interested to know how important the cover and packaging are to writers, and whether there are any writers out there who own or ar planning on getting a kindle.

Kindle - ignite, light; set fire to, touch off; fuel, stoke, feed the flames; make the fire, rub two sticks together (Roget's Thesaurus)


  1. No Kindle thanks, Deborah. For me, a book (well, a novel, anyway) is essentially a physical thing. I love the look (yes, the cover, of course) the feel, the smell; the way a new book creaks slightly when you open it for the first time, or the musty smell and faded inscriptions of a second-hand book. The whole book experience goes way beyond what's written in it. I've just received (courtesy of an Amazon token) a new hardback novel by a favourite writer, and its physical presence gave me so much pleasure, even before I'd opened it. It enhanced the experience and the anticipation (and I'm loving the book!).

  2. I quite agree with you Frances about the physical presence of books, their smell, feel and weight. And there is something about the concept of a book that has entered the human psyche, so that when shown an image of a book there is a delightful sense of anticipation, of secrets to be revealed.