Why I Like E-Books

Why I Like E-Books

I was sitting and talking with a group of friends awhile back when the subject of e-book readers came up. Everyone was shocked to find out that I owned a Kindle. “It’s like taking money from writers’ pockets, isn’t it?” one friend asked.

Another said, “How can you do that? You’re a writer.”

I could write about how silly that is and editorialize it to death as has been done by readers and writers alike . . . but I don’t wanna. I love my Kindle.

Three years ago I was wandering through an antique store and wandered into the book section. I picked up a copy of The Door by Mary Roberts Rinehart and The Case of the Drowsy Mosquito by Erle Stanley Gardner.  The books were in bad shape. They smelled musty and the pages were coming out of the binding in places, but they were by authors I’d never read (yes, I’d heard of Perry Mason, but I’d never read any of the cases) so I picked them up.

I love a good old-fashioned mystery. I fell in love with Rinehart’s style and enjoyed reading a Perry Mason novel for the first time. The benefits of an old fashioned mystery on the Kindle are that there’s no musty/moldy smell, no disintegrating paper, and no broken binding.

Here’s a list of a very few of my favorite free reads:

1.       The Attic Murder by S. Fowler Wright

2.       Classic Mystery Novels: 22 books by Mary Roberts Rinehart

3.       The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

4.       Dr. Thorndyke Mystery Collection by R. Austin Freeman

5.       The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson

6.       The Vanishing Man by R. Austin Freeman

7.       The Man Who Knew Too Much by GK Chesterton

8.       The Evil Guest by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

9.       The Mystery of the Hasty Arrow by Anna Katherine Greene

10.   Carnacki, the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson

Like I said, these are just a few and these are mysteries. For writers out there who worry about eking out a living, believe me I understand. As a writer I seek inspiration from all sorts of writing by all sorts of writers and it’s nice to have just one more resource available to me.

As a reader, I look for free stuff wherever I can get it. Viva la Public Domain!

I’d love to hear about your experience with public domain works and to hear your recommendations. What “newly discovered” old writers have you found?

–JB Kohl

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Why I Like E-Books

  1. I’m sure my day is coming—the day I buy a reader. I want to be kind to the environment and I’m running out of room on my bookshelf. Of course, I could solve that problem by taking some to the used bookstore, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to do that. I have a sizeable beer bottle collection, and even though I know I’m never again going to drink out of those empties, the labels on them are just so cool, and the beer comes from faraway places and I don’t collect stamps, so there. I likely will never read a second time most of the books I own, but who knows to whom I might lend one?

    Yes, the Kindle and Nook (Barnes and Noble’s equivalent) are cool even if, like the pocket calculators of the 1970s, they continue to evolve and come down in price; but the issue I have is with Amazon.

    I know they spent money on developing this product and they deserve to make a profit. But their invention eliminated the cost of printing and shipping a book, which equates to approximately 40% of their cost, and they swallowed whole that 40% savings. The author, without whom Amazon wouldn’t have a product to peddle, received nothing. We still get our customary 8% (unless we’re Dan Brown, who can negotiate whatever he wants) of a smaller pie.

    I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong.

    Okay, sorry I didn’t answer your question, JB, so I’ll just hop off my soapbox and let someone else have a chance.

    • No . . . you make a good point. My post is from the point of view of the reader, not the writer. I don’t disagree with you about Amazon’s profit guzzling and, being the cheapskate I am, I hate the thought of spending 9.99 for a book in e-format, when I still love the feel of a paper book in my hand. I’m more than willing to lay down money on a book that I can hold, fold, and let mold as they say. But what I like about the Public Domain, with regard to books, is the fact that I am reading authors I would have otherwise never heard of. It’s nice to know that in the digital age, authors don’t necessarily have to fade into obscurity as time passes. I find that somewhat reassuring. Maybe if I write something good enough, someone will find it and download it a hundred years from now.

      • I agree, JB, I still like the feel and smell of a book—I recently gifted a friend of mine with a copy of Backstop I had lying around my house and she mentioned later that, as she read it, she could smell cigars on it, which I thought was pretty cool.

        But yes, the old classics that are more difficult to come by in print—although really, I’ve managed to score some old items from Amazon, like Victor Hugo’s Laughing Man, Joseph Conrad, etc., so I don’t know if anything is ever really out of print. Isn’t that part of what makes digital technology and print on demand so neat? If a publisher comes into the rights of an author (because the copyright expired), then it’s pure profit for them (once it’s printed and shipped), because there is no royalty to be paid.

        Mickey: Are you going to miss Derek Jeter in pinstripes next year?

  2. I got around to reading Dorian Gray finally.
    E books are wonderful in general, I love the Kindle
    and don’t miss paper.

    • JB Kohl

      Ah Dorian Gray. Complicated book. Glad you like your Kindle. I discovered recently that I can mail a full document to my Kindle. Next time I have to proof one of my novels, that’s exactly how I’m going to do it. Then i can read it at my leisure in any size font I want and highlight as I go.

      Hey JConrad–I managed to get a first edition of Eaters of the Dead, edited by Michael Crichton. It’s the book the movie The Thirteenth Warrior was based on. It’s a true story and one of my favorite movies of all time. And I got the copy of my book through Amazon. So I think you’re right, if something good it probably never really goes out of print.

      Recently, my husband recalled a book his mother read him when he was in fourth grade. The name of the book was The Satanic Mill. No longer in print, but he got it through Amazon.

      I don’t know what my point to this was . . . except to agree that I just generally love books–no matter what the format. And if my mom sends me a book, it smells like her kitchen, which is the best smell in the whole world.

  3. E books are coming, whether we like it or not. As to taking bread from the mouth of writers–buying books in public domain doesn’t do that–never trying anything new DOES.

    Glad you love Kindle. Hopefully Santa is thinking of getting me one. 🙂

    • Whether Santa gets you one, Juliet, depends on whether you’ve been naughty or good!

      Honestly, I’ll feel better about e-books when I can make more money from sales of my work through them than from sales of hard copies, because that’ll mean I’m selling more e-books.

      I still think they have a ways to go before I’ll buy one. A friend of mine has a Kindle. He showed my book on his—no header with a page number and title and author name. The remaining formatting looked good—indents, paragraph breaks were as they should be. But he did say he’d had formatting issues with other downloads. Missing indents, paragraphs running together. I can’t imagine reading an entire book that way.

    • JB Kohl

      Very true–e-books aren’t only coming, they’re here and here to stay.

      I’ll put a good word in with Santa for you!!! I’m sure you deserve a Kindle 🙂

  4. christinehusom

    Now I see people at the health club walking on the treadmill reading on their Kindles. A different world, no doubt. Perhaps if I had more reading time I would consider an e-reader, but I have so many books stacked up now, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get through those. A half a day a week of reading would be heaven! I’m still a bit concered about going overboard on paperless.

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