RARA-AVIS: kindle query

From: Frederick Zackel (fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 04 Nov 2009

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    Can we start a discussion about Kindle, something deeper than "it's the Beast 666" or "I think the future will be Kindle-licious."

    Bouchercon was fun. Went to panels, got free books and bought other books. Got some of them autographed, even.

    But what stood out was Kindle. This guy from Amazon had a panel about the Kindle. The room was standing room only ... with writers and not readers or zealous fanatics. The session also went over its hour time limit, got kicked out, and then moved out into the hallway, where it stayed informally for almost another thirty minutes.

    I liked what I heard. Kindle seems like the most feasible (most plausible) place for most older books and manuscripts down the line.

    A friend of mine has a kindle and uses it on airplanes and for reading in bed at night. He swears by it. Buys ten books at a time.

    About an hour or so after Amazon's panel ended, I bumped into the Amazon guy in the hotel lobby. He said -- and this is what got me the strongest - that Kindle would link manuscripts with whatever is listed at Amazon.

    Before I met this Amazon guy, I meet some disgruntled, disgusted, frustrated, pissed-off writers at Bouchercon. As soon as their rights revert back to them, these guys were switching their manuscripts to Kindle.

    All these manuscripts can get cobbled together as a sort of virtual backlist through Kindle. Maybe one of them ms. can help sell the others.

    Kindle was the talk in the hotel bar after hours. Which surprised us.

    I met one writer at Bouchercon whose agent is trying to get all thirty (yes, 30!) of his books onto Kindle. Most are out of print, he said, and his publisher won't offer them. He wasn't worried about the book collectors. Collectors will always buy and trade his old hardcover stuff. But his new readers -- until now (maybe) -- will never get a shot at reading them.

    One writer said, "Nobody autographs a Kindle." But she had four out-of-print books she was worried about. Whatever's out of print is no longer out of print. And because it's electronic, it has no effect on the collectors who want a hard copy no matter what. And people who read it electronically can also get linked to everything else in your series ... and, if they wish, order hard copies to keep forever.

    We also met a writer whose agent shopped a manuscript but couldn't find it a home. The agent told the writer, give it to Kindle, the writer sold 7000 copies, and Simon & Schuster bought it for a future hardcover. I spoke with the guy; he was in shock.

    Mister 7000, we started calling him; we saw him everywhere. Oh, I know that story is the old "once upon a time it happened ..." and it only happened once. It's not about that.

    I liked what the guy from Amazon told me about Kindle. You upload the manuscripts, then there's more fiddling around, whatever, and you get to set the price for the piece. Prices are kept low so you get those who devour books.

    So what do you folks think? Or have experienced?

    Oh. And for avians who feel this question is off-topic .

    Is the future of Kindle noir? Or hard-boiled?

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