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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Why is my Kindle Library so unappealing?

Like many other bookaholics I have bought a Kindle and have quite a few books on there waiting to be read. They are historical fiction books that were offered free for a limited time, other books I thought at the time I could not wait to read, and books about my craft of writing. I intend to get around to reading them all, or I wouldn't have downloaded them.

So why haven't I?

The answer is, there is an equally large To-Be-Read pile sitting on my bookcase. These are paperback books. More often than not, if I want a book I will go to this pile, rather than the Kindle. This is because I am in fact browsing again for my choice of book, and in this browsing process of what to read next, the cover and the blurb  makes a big impact on my choice all over again.

Seeing a typed list of which clothes to wear in the morning is not the same as looking at them hanging in the wardrobe.

So very often it is a book from the paperback pile that I will choose, and the Kindle books stay unread unless I am going on a long-haul flight. After all, most of my reading is done at home, and when I am packing to go on a short trip, my choosing is done at home.

This lack of appeal on the device makes no difference to the publishers - after all they have already made their sale. But it does make a difference to writers. If someone buys a paper book, there is a good chance it will be read - or recycled via a charity or thrift shop to someone who will read it. On the kindle, a book can get lost in a list for a long time, and as it takes up little space, may never be read.

The World Book Night Books I gave away

When I gave out books for World Book Day, they were all physical books. A physical book jogs the memory - hey, I'm here! So I like to think many of them will be read, even though I gave them away free. I collected them from Arnside Library where a big part of the Library experience is browsing. I cannot imagine a library where I just read titles.

Arnside Library 
As a writer, I want to be read, rather than just stored on a machine, so it seems to be that the more sensory data there is with a book, the more likely it is to be read. I like to browse my books, so the sooner the Kindle can come up with this browsing function, complete with colour cover image and graphics, the better.

What do others think? Have you many books sitting unread on the Kindle?


  1. I have a book addiction. I buy paperbacks, ebooks and borrow from the library. When I buy or borrow the book I have already done my browsing. Which book I choose to read is usually based on what mood I'm in. I'll check my kindle first because it's easier and then go to the shelves if I don't score. I think the ereaders come into their own for holiday reading etc. I don't think the writer loses out with ebooks because I buy on previously read or recommendation. My friend and I also borrow each other's ereaders :)

  2. Hi DHL,
    That's really interesting. I guess we all have slightly different reading habits. I's nice to meet another person with a book addiction! Good idea to borrow each other's e-readers. Lending to a friend is such a pleasure.

  3. Hi Deborah, one great thing about the Kindle is being able to download a sample before buying-I've done this with a few books recently and subsequently bought the book if I enjoyed the sample. I'm hoping this will prevent any more TBR books from piling up next to my bed! However I recently read a book which I really enjoyed-The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn on Kindle-and wish I had the paperback. So maybe the answer is to read the sample on Kindle and buy the paperback if I know that I'll want to have it on my bookcase? I read recently when researching a blog post that some Kindle books can be lent to a friend by sending to their Kindle-it disappears after a limited time period I think. Great thought-provoking post!

  4. Hi Anita, yes, I use the "sample" feature too, it's great. And I enjoyed "The Last Summer" too, but it was in paperback, picked from my paperback TBR pile! I have enjoyed reading books on Kindle when I get round to it - I find it easy to use and very portable, and I use it a lot for research documents and dictionaries.

  5. I found your post very interesting. I have avoided ebooks in general for a couple of reasons - my book addiction would only get worse with all of those free books for the taking, but mostly, I just like the look of books on a shelf and thumbing through them when I'm not sure what to read next. I think about all of the things I have on my computer that I never look at once I save them and I figure this would be the same way - out of sight out of mind...

  6. A really interesting post, Dee, and I do agree. There's nothing like browsing through a pile or shelf of books, and I too wish that I could download the cover together with the book when I buy for my Kindle. I tend to accumulate books on the Kindle for holiday reading, and read 'proper' books at home. But like all book-lovers, we are running out of space. Soon, it will be us or the books, as the house won't have room for both...

  7. My personal choice would be a physical book, as it has it's presence in the form of the paper, card and glue. Even though I own a Kindle, it feels 'impersonal', as I can why the coffee stain/smudge on my paper book; my Kindle is full of free books, as you have lost nothing if it's awful, or classics I have in paperback. The greatest bugbear in the e-book format, is the price - some are more expensive than the physical form; surely, e-books should be cheaper, even including the VAT, as they don't have the printing overheads.

  8. Hi Daphne, Frances and Mrs Thomas. Have any of you read "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks? In it a whole history is unravelled through microscopic evidence found between the pages of a book - eg a single hair, fragment of a butterfly's wing, a seed. I like the idea that our physical books make a journey that can be forensically tracked. Something our Kindles can't do. But Frances is right, Kindle books certainly save space.As for the price, I'm in two minds. The writer in me would like decent royalties for my hard work, the reader in me would like cheaper e-books!

  9. Yes, Deborah, I do the very same thing! Not sure why... I don't tend to go to my iPad to read except for the news (I love Flipboard!). I think it's because I already look at a screen all day long, and the printed page offers respite for my weary eyes.

  10. I love my books, I have so many I may have to build an extension soon but I also love my Kindle. As a sufferer of arthritis I sometimes have trouble holding a large book but the Kindle is kind to both wrists and eyes. I can read for much longer on the Kindle especially in the garden. I also have some sympathy for trees and when I think of all the unsold printed books that are pulped each year it makes me feel quite giddy. I think there is room for both. I buy Kindle copies if they are available and 'tree' books if they are special enough to be keepers.
    enjoyed your post Deborah, as always.

  11. Reading is a great pleasure, both paper book and e.books. The trouble is that the days just aren't long enough. So reading is mostly done at the end of the day, and often in bed. Here the light small kindle comes into its own. I hope to read this evening, but there's still all the e-mail to chcck and answer. Warm thanks for your post, Deborah.

  12. Sherry, I'm with you there. I spend a lot of time in front of a screen too. Judith, you make some good points. I imagine anyone who has difficulty holding a book open finds e-readers a boon, because they are lighter and smaller as Peter points out. And wouldn't we all like a few extra lifetimes to read all the books we'd like to, whether on Kindle or paper, And I do love my Kindle, just noticed that I don't turn to it as often as the paperback pile.

  13. Barbara Gaskell Denvil, 03 May, 2012

    Like most writers, I am also a book addict and I do prefer the visible hard copy on my shelves. But now due to eyesight problems, I use a Kindle. It really does offer a wonderful service but I agree with you Deborah regarding the option to browse - how I wish the Kindle would at least offer colour and the covers included on the menu list - that would help enormously. The Geraldine Brooks book sounds delightful - but I greatly disliked her 'Year of Wonder' and was shocked at her lack of accurate research. It sounds as though the 'People of the Book' is much better. As for the Kindle, in spite of its faults, I am so thankful for it. Besides my bookshelves are already overflowing.

  14. Hi Barbara, thanks for stopping by.I guess Large Print books will soon be a thing of the past - it is so convenient to be able to adjust text size. Has anyone read Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks yet? She seems to divide opinion. I enjoyed your book trailer on your website, Barbara, very dramatic.

  15. Barbara Gaskell Denvil, 04 May, 2012

    Thanks very much, Deborah