How Reading And Book Buying Has Changed With The Kindle

    Categories: Publishing Options

OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn

Reading in the hammock...bliss!

I was one of the first people in Australia to buy the Kindle when it finally reached these far shores. Here's my original review. Things have changed a lot in the last year in the publishing industry with the popularity of ebooks. On a smaller scale, my reading and book buying behavior has also completely changed and so have many other peoples.

Watch the video or read the text below.

What has changed?

  • I buy more fiction books for the Kindle. They are about 1/3 of the paperback price here in Australia so while it is prohibitive to read a new fiction book when the price is $35-$40, it is easy to buy one at $11 (although that would still be considered pricey by some). I had pretty much given up reading new fiction because of the price and only really bought non-fiction as new. I used to read fiction from charity shops, the library or ordered it from Amazon.com as a print book if I really wanted it. Now I have 2-3 books a week on the go and I'm loving it!
  • I buy through sampling. Once every few weeks I go onto Amazon.com to the Kindle bookstore and look at books for the last 30 days in various categories. I have a look at a lot of them and send samples to my Kindle of any that are interesting. I may download 20-25 samples at once. Then I read a few pages of them in bed and buy the ones I like as I read. I probably buy 10% of samples I download.
  • I read more books by authors I have never heard of, because of the sampling as above. If a title or cover catches my eye and I download the sample and like it, I will buy no matter who the author. The price does matter. I won't spend over $9.99 on an author I haven't heard of unless the sample is sparkling!
  • I read the same book across devices on the Kindle app. I have the Kindle device by my bed for evening reading. I use the iPhone app to read on the train commute and also in my lunch-hour. I use the iPad to read on the couch in between surfing/reading blogs and also for non-fiction/study purposes.
  • I download samples immediately on recommendation from a website or person. I get most of my book recommendations from Twitter, blogs and podcasts. You may have noticed I spend a lot of time online (!) and so I just tab over and click to download the sample straight away. If it's not available as a sample, I will most likely forget about it.
  • I will generally NOT buy a book if it isn't available on Kindle. I have switched to 90% reading on the devices and prefer not to buy print books as a general rule. I will bend this for books I just have to have that aren't available on Kindle OR/ special edition books, like Carl Jung's oversize Red Book.

What does this mean for authors?

All these things are good for authors, especially those that are willing to embrace new technologies and get their work out there. These are the take home messages.

  • Publish your work on the Kindle. If you have a back-list, this is even more important. You are leaving money on the shelf if you have books that are not out there electronically. People like me will not give them a chance unless we can download a sample. DIY on DTP.Amazon.com or use a professional like Moriah Jovan or Joshua Tallent at EBookArchitects for format them for you. If you have a publisher, bug them to get your books on the Kindle ASAP. There's no excuse for publishers not to sort this out now. With 70% of the ebook market, Kindle is the place to start.
  • Try ebooks yourself. If you haven't tried reading an ebook yet, then you should give it a go. The ebook reader prices are falling and will be lower for Christmas specials. I have found the Kindle liberating for my own reading experience, so I hope you will too! (and you can take 1500 books on holiday with you now!)

You might also like this article:  A comparison between Kindle and the iPad for readers and writers.

What is your experience with the Kindle? (or other ebook readers)
I now offer a multi-media online short course on how to publish your book on the Kindle, iPad, Nook and other e-readers as well as answers to all your ebook publishing questions. Featuring video, audio and PDF information for only $39.99.

Click here for all the details.

Joanna Penn :

View Comments (20)

  • I finally bought a kindle about 10 days ago and although I haven't actually paid for a book yet, I've uploaded about 40 free ones I got from Amazon. Some people might not realize that most of the classics are free, plus Amazon often has limited-time offers where ebooks are made free for a few days or weeks.

    I'll be posting my own review in the next week or so, and I'll definitely link to this wonderful post so my readers can benefit. Thanks!

  • Great post, Joanna.

    I still read/buy treebooks as they aren't nearly as expensive as they are in Australia. Everything you've said about how your Kindle has changed your reading habits, however, is true in my case with one exception.

    Long ago I gave up spending my time reading excerpts from new books. There are simply too many whole books to read. It is the case that more and more, people are taking their backlists and turning them into a Kindle series. Many of those are making the first book available for free and I find that deadly as I start with the free one and by the time I'm halfway through I've ordered the rest of the backlist. Sometimes I think it's just too easy (grin).

    Cheers --- Larry

    • I think I may still buy print books back in the UK or US where they are cheaper. I still enjoy browsing book stores, but I am one of those nightmares who will browse and then find it on the kindle and buy it from there!
      Interesting that you are replacing your backlist as well. I have bought a few I own already I know that feeling!

  • I too have found my reading/buying habits have changed, with increased reading, willingness to try new authors, and a shift away from print books.

    One additional and unexpected change-I have actually bought a few books I already own for the Kindle. This has happened when I was on the road and just had to have one of my old standby's for comfort reading. But what I realized is that many of my much loved-much read books were mass paperbacks--that are decades old--so the paper is shredding, the bindings are giving out, and the dust mites are breeding- As a result, rereading them on the Kindle has been a much more pleasant experience.

    Final note, as a first time author, my self-published historical mystery has sold very well on Kindle. This thanksgiving holiday my usual 14-15 sales a day have suddenly spiked (last night I sold 35), and I just know it was people who were traveling and downloading books for their Kindle while they were on the road. I can't tell you how tickled I am that someone might be making their air travel more fun by reading my book!!!

    • I'm really happy that you are also selling as well as reading on the Kindle, that's marvelous! It is also amazing that we can so easily track sales and income with ebooks, whereas publishers take a year or more to provide statements and we can't track relationship to marketing or anything.

  • I was devastated when my month-old Kindle broke last week and Amazon told me they couldn't ship me a new one because I live in Israel. Although I only used it a few times, I really loved it. I mainly downloaded classics I had never gotten around to reading - I was in the middle of Robinson Crusoe when it broke. Maybe it got too shaken up by all those storms at sea!

    But the real reason why I bought it was because I just published my first ebook - which I did for Kindle on Amazon.com and the other eReades through Smashwords.com - and I wanted to see how the whole ebook business worked. And so, Joanne, I'm curious about two things you wrote.

    One is about downloading samples. I'm curious about the lag time in between the time you download the sample and make a decision to buy. And do you actually get around to reading all the samples, or do you become tempted by all the new offerings and forget about the older ones?

    Also, it looks like the section where you talk about new authors and price got cut off at the end. You write, "The price does matter. I won't spend" - and leave us dangling. What is your "red line" for new authors?

    Thanks. Libi

    • Hi Libi, good catch! Maybe I do need an editor for the blog!
      I have updated that sentence - my cut off is $9.99.
      In terms of the sampling, I do have a lot of samples on the Kindle and I don't get around to many of them so yes, I forget the older ones. But then I might re-find them again in the multiple Kindle pages at another time. The lag time differs depending on the mood I'm in. Yesterday, I downloaded a sample, read it and bought the book immediately over all the others waiting for me to try!
      Thanks, Joanna

  • I have a NOOKcolor, not a Kindle. I love it, and all the points you made still apply. There are other choices; it's more about being able to read e-books than using a single device.
    I've uploaded some original short stories and backlisted books to the Kindle store, but also to Smashwords where you can get them for a wide variety of devices, because not everyone wants a Kindle, but people still want to read e-books.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  • I've had a Kindle for about a year now and it's surprising to reflect on what a difference it has made. I can't remember the last print book I bought. It really hit me last night how I now take the convenience of the Kindle for granted. I was reading in bed and had just finished a novel, so I went to the Kindle Store and picked up the complete works of Jane Austen for $0.99 and was re-reading 'Lady Sarah' within a couple of minutes. I don't think I'd ever change to an ereader without an Internet connection. I would miss that convenience so much.

    • Hi Graham, I'm with you there. I do notice how much bigger my Amazon.com credit card bill is though! (but it's books, that's learning - not frivolous!)

  • I started with the kindle 1 and have since upgraded to the kindle 3
    I gave my kindle 1 to a friend.
    Here in US Amazon has 7 day return policy on ebooks
    I have returned books with no problem here.
    Do they have the same return policy elsewhere?


  • I have resisted buying a Kindle, despite all its bells and whistles, simply because I don't want to be tied in to Amazon. I have a Kobo instead. This device, (which might not be available in Oz yet), is a very simple, basic e-reader and I like it a lot. It came pre-loaded with hundreds of classics and I can buy books from the Kobo store (when I am in the UK) or Borders (when I am in the US). I also use it to read pdfs, which is really useful. As you know, if you are an author it is much easier to proof-read on paper than on the screen, so being able to check proofs on my Kobo means I can do it in black and white without using up trees, which is a huge plus for me.
    Also, since it will read books in ePub format, I can read library books on my Kobo at no cost and without leaving home to fetch them. What's not to love about that?
    It has no 3G or wifi. I simply download books to my computer and plug in my Kobo to transfer them. Works like a dream.
    After publishing my 7th paper book I am now moving to ebooks myself. It's definitely the way to go.

    • Kobo sounds good but I haven't seen any around. They might be available here now but Amazon got here first which meant I was hooked in :)
      I really like the Kindle app on all my devices as well. I'm off to New Zealand next week and will take the iPad which has all my Kindle books as well as wifi connection for email, blogging and twitter.

  • i rec'd a kindle as an early christmas gift and haven't put it down yet. no more middle of the night standing in front of my bookshelves looking for something to re-read or something i didn't finish. and yes, more new fiction loaded, and old standards for comfort loaded. i'd'a never thunk it - i was dragged into owning a cellphone kicking & screaming, and of course, was in love immediately. the kindle? even faster. i am reminded of the idea that the ability to rent movies would "kill" the movie business, when if fact, it had the opposite effect. i think we will see that with e-readers. i also see that if i really, really like a book i've read in kindle, i will buy the paper version. don't ask me why - it just feels right.

    • Hi Debi.
      I have done the same with a few books - anything I want to read again or in detail, I will have in multiple formats - I often get the audiobook version as well for exercise time!

  • My experience is similar to yours, I'm reading more fiction because Kindle books are 3 times cheaper than printed books in local stores.

    Sometimes I read a sample and it's so good that I have to know what happens next and I buy it immediately. It's very easy to buy from the Kindle itself, and in a minute or so, I can get the book.

    Other times I read a paragraph or a couple of pages and I delete the sample. I feel kind of bad for the author, because maybe it gets better later. At a book store, I would browse covers, I might read a page, but never 20 pages, so now my purchases are more informed now.

    I also enjoy the social features (popular highlights) and a couple of times I tweeted a quote, so I guess that authors with great and short lines have more chances of diffusion.

    • I'm with you there Natalie. It seems even more important now to have a compelling first 3 chapters or your sample gets binned. It did influence how I wrote Pentecost. Thanks!

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