One Last Post about the Kindle

I hope you don’t get too annoyed with me for doing another post about the Kindle. There were several great comments and questions after last week’s post, and I wanted to take the discussion a little further.
Here are my answers to a few of the issues raised:

→ What if I lose or destroy my Kindle? Insurance doesn’t cover the cost of all those book downloads.

Amazon saves all your downloads, so if you delete them from your Kindle, or even lose or destroy your Kindle, you can re-download the books without paying again.

→ Reading on a computer hurts my eyes.

The Kindle uses a new and completely different technology from a computer. It’s a high resolution, similar to reading paper-and-ink, and doesn’t hurt your eyes. For me, it’s even better than reading a book because I can adjust the text size, which is especially helpful in low light. In effect, every book can turn into a large-print book when I want it to.

→ For me, a book isn’t just about the words, it’s the entire reading experience. Does reading electronically take away from this experience? Is it harder to “lose yourself” in certain books when you’re looking at them onscreen?

For me, no. In fact, most of the time I’m not aware of reading “on a screen” because the Kindle technology looks very much like ink on paper. If I think back over the last seven months that I’ve had my Kindle, I can’t very well remember which books/manuscripts I read on it versus in a different format.

This brings up an interesting point about eReaders in general, and how you’ll perceive them differently depending on whether you’re in the business of reading or not. People who work in publishing may love books (the paper, cover, the binding, the look and feel, etc.), but we’re not exceptionally attached to a need to read them in that specific format (ink on pages bound in a cover) because we already read books in so many forms. Most of us read manuscripts for a living, which don’t have the benefit of a lovely cover and design, so we’re keenly aware of the importance of the words. We read manuscripts printed on 8 ½ x 11 paper, and we read manuscripts on our computer screens all the time. So for us, the idea of reading a book in a different format besides a bound book is really no big deal. Maybe that accounts for some of the difference in opinions.

→ Piracy is my biggest concern. With eBooks, what’s to prevent the same file sharing/pirating that damaged the music industry?

As Dal put it (in the comments), “digital rights management is a big hairy wormy subject at the moment.” Yep. But here are my thoughts.

1) Most people aren’t hackers, they’re just readers. I’m not a hacker, so I haven’t figured out a way to get a book off of my Kindle and be able to indiscriminately share it with others (and I never will). Yes, some people may do that. However…

2) Authors are already having their books “shared” and not getting any royalties. How many books have you borrowed from friends? How many books have you given away? How many books have you purchased used from Amazon or or the used bookstore or Goodwill? For all the art forms… music, fine art, books… there is always going to be a certain amount of sharing. There will always be people who enjoy it without paying for it.

3) The issue of protecting against piracy is a big one, and of course, those who create technology are doing their best to come up with ways to prevent it. There’s not going to be a complete cure. But I can’t imagine not going digital simply because of this fear. My iPod and iTunes have changed my life for the better. The music industry has made it less likely that people will pirate by making it easier and easier to get music the legal way. But there’s simply no getting around the fact that some people feel okay stealing.

Yes, piracy is an issue, one that isn’t being ignored by the book industry. We have the advantage that the music industry dealt with this first, so at least we won’t be caught unprepared.

→ I don’t like to have to be connected to a power source just to read a book.

The Kindle is rechargeable, and with each charge, gets at least 10 hours of reading time (as far as I can tell). I suppose if you were camping in the wilderness that might be a problem. I haven’t found it to be an issue as long as I bring my charger with me when I travel.

→ It’s just too expensive.

I agree, it’s too expensive for the casual user. The price will probably come down. Since I use it for my work, it’s not only worth the price, it’s a business write-off.

→ Too many design flaws.

True, and I know the Kindle 2.0 (due out soon) won’t have every one of them fixed. For me, the flaws are annoying but not enough for me to regret buying it.

→ What books wouldn’t you want to read on a Kindle?

Nonfiction books that I might want to highlight, write in, and come back to frequently. Although Kindle allows for highlighting and making notes, I find the feature too cumbersome to use.

Okay, I promise that’s ALL I’m going to write about Kindle for a good long while!

Any more questions, check out Amazon’s Kindle page.

Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent who loves reading books on her Kindle.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Randy Mortenson on January 23, 2009 at 12:42 AM

    >I’m a day (almost two) late, but I want to thank you for posting about the Kindle again. I’m already sold on them, just waiting for a hopeful contract (!) to come through (all right, I’m hopeful, not the contract) and for amazon to get them in stock again. Maybe I’ll wait for 2.0. Anyway, thanks! Always helpful.

  2. Vince on January 22, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    >I love my Sony eBook reader. It is designed to be just like a book and I like it better than a real book. I have it because I must have large type. However, here’s something to consider: academic and even just history books can cost well over $100 dollars while the same books in paper may only cost $17 to $25. This is a disappointment.


  3. Jan Parrish on January 21, 2009 at 3:32 PM

    >Finally, some feedback from a reader who actually uses one. I’m going to check out your other posts. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. karenranney on January 21, 2009 at 12:46 PM

    >One of the neat things about the Kindle is that you can use it just like a flash drive. I store my WIP on the Kindle, and also manuscripts that are ready to go to my editor. After reading them one last time on the Kindle, I can find errors I didn’t see in any other format.

    Also, for non-fiction books, I highlight and then download My Clippings into my computer, so I can reference the notes I’ve made.

    Bottom line, I luv my Kindle.

  5. Dara on January 21, 2009 at 11:07 AM

    >Thanks for answering some of the questions. I’m still wondering if you are able to download the eBooks from the library and put them on there (I get eBooks from the library all the time and read them on my tablet PC). I like being able to read a book first to see if I like it enough to buy it 🙂 I may get one eventually.

    Currently the eBook I’m reading, The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, I plan on buying. It’s the first book in quite some time that I’ve enjoyed enough to want to own and read again.

  6. Stephanie Reed on January 21, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    >As to piracy/reading books without paying, you can read big chunks of my books right now on Google and Amazon, but not the whole book–it’s a free sample. Remember a little invention called the radio? Anyone can hear music free–you don’t need an iPod. And you can read most any book free at the library. As far as I’m concerned, the more ways you can hear about or read my books, the better.

    I don’t have a Kindle now. Maybe when both kids finish college. Ooh, or Rachelle could, oh, I don’t know, have a contest and maybe give one away or something (write it off, write it off)… 🙂

  7. Lady Glamis on January 21, 2009 at 10:00 AM

    >Thank you for clearing those questions up. I’ve been sold on a Kindle since holding and using one for just 10 minutes. Can’t wait for the newer versions to come out. Maybe by then I can afford one. 🙂

  8. Sault Boat Watcher on January 21, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    >As a Kindle reader and lover, I enjoyed your discussion. I am traveling right now and love the portability of having many books with me in just a small package.

    One great feature of the Kindle that I use while traveling is the Internet access. It is more awkward than a computer and I don’t have cell phone access to the net, so I use the Kindle to check email, facebook and the news. I can also post and email while traveling down the road. The best part is that there is no additional cost for this service. It is included in the purchase price.

  9. Rachelle on January 21, 2009 at 9:25 AM

    >David, you can click the pages forward or backward, but if you’re a constant page flipper, you’d be very annoyed by any e-reader. This is why I said I don’t like to read a nonfiction book on the Kindle… same thing, I’m always wanting to flip around. Of course, there’s a handy word-search function which isn’t available on a regular book.

  10. David A. Todd on January 21, 2009 at 9:14 AM

    >How does Kindle work for flipping ahead to find out how long the next chapter is, so that at 11:30PM you can make a decision on whether to read on or not?

    How does it work to check back over something you read a little while ago, to compare it to where you are right now? When I read a non-fiction book, I’m a page flipper, constantly checking back on something. I can’t see how Kindle would work for that. Searching for someething previous by a word search, probably. But checking between Chapter 2 and chapter 4, with the pages in between between your left thumb and forefinger? Don’t see how it would work.

  11. Rosslyn Elliott on January 21, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    >I like the print-enlarging feature that you mention. That’s yet another reason why the Kindle is good for the elderly or disabled.

  12. Rachelle on January 21, 2009 at 8:46 AM

    >Kim, the Kindle weighs about 10 ounces, less that all but the very smallest books published.

    SPierceJohnson, I’ve never said I prefer the eReader over the Kindle and my purpose is not to compare the two. I have friends who have both, but since several of the NY pubs purchased eReaders for their employees, more of my publishing friends have eReaders than Kindles. I think it’s a matter of preference, and most of the things I’ve written about Kindle are also true about the eReader. The point of my discussion is e-readers in general, not to debate the competing technologies.

    Deborah, interesting perspective from your daughters! For me, even if there is no future for e-readers for the general public, I think they will be tremendously valuable for people in publishing, and I think they’ll find their place among others in various niches and disciplines.

  13. Chatty Kelly on January 21, 2009 at 8:25 AM

    >I like your updated bio with this post “…literary agent who loves reading books on her kindle.”

    Good information, lots of questions answered.

  14. Deborah Vogts on January 21, 2009 at 7:57 AM

    >Hi Rachelle, I’d to add one more comment here. Recently, I spoke to my oldest daughter who is a communications student at Phoenix University. She said that in her latest class, they discussed the Kindle and Sony E-Reader. Interestingly enough, the majority of those students had NO interest in digital books. They believed there wouldn’t be a future for them unless you were in a publishing business. And this from our younger generation, 18-25 year olds.

  15. Karen on January 21, 2009 at 7:07 AM

    >I have the Sony Reader 505. It’s a lot like the Kindle but you need to download books through your computer (where books are stored-just in case you lose/break your reader). The 505 is cheaper than Kindle but doesn’t have a few of the features (like highlighting). The Sony 700 has more features but I didn’t like the screen. It was more like a computer–and it was more expensive.

    Rachelle is right. Once you are into a story, you don’t realize you’re not holding paper. It sure is lighter than a big book and I can fit a lot of books into my suitcase for a long trip.

  16. SPierceJohnson on January 21, 2009 at 6:25 AM

    >Why must I pay hundreds of dollars to hold/touch/try the Kindle? When will it be available in a brick and mortar store like Barnes & Noble? This is a major drawback to anyone who likes to "kick the tires" before buying a new kind of product. Though the Kindle is preferred by you, Michael Hyatt & Joe Wikert, fellow agent Chip MacGregor claimed in a recent post that most people in publishing use the Sony eReader (which, by the way, can be held and tried out at Target stores nationwide.) I'm interested in your thoughts/response to this. Thanks for your excellent & always informative blog, Rachelle. Have a wonderful day!

  17. Anita Mae Draper on January 21, 2009 at 3:08 AM

    >Thank you, Rachelle. I didn’t like eBooks at all until I rec’d an iPod Touch for Christmas. Now, I can read anywhere.

    I used to tuck a book in my purse to read while waiting in the supermarket line. But, that was only convenient if it was a small category book.

    The one thing I don’t like about eBooks on the iPod Touch is that I have to use 2 hands. One hand to hold it and one hand to flick to the next page.

    I understand the Kindle has a button you press to advance to the next page. Hopefully in a couple years when I outgrow my iPod Touch, the kinks would have been worked out of a cheaper Kindle.

    Well, I can dream, can’t I?

  18. Meredith Teagarden on January 21, 2009 at 2:33 AM

    >I am so glad you posted this! I have considered the Kindle, though I am a collector of books.

  19. Kim Kasch on January 21, 2009 at 2:17 AM

    >How ’bout 1 more ?

    I read a lot, late at night, in bed.

    Is the Kindle heavy? I like to curl up with a paperback in bed because it’s EZ to hold and flip through the pages without – needlessly – wearing out my pitching arm 8)