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Reading has always been my idea of fun!
I love reading and I love books, plus I believe writers are usually great readers. We spend our lives immersed with our minds elsewhere, in someone else's world or one of our own creation. Happy times indeed!
Hugh Howey posted a video about his reading habits and thoughts on the state of e-readers last week, and I was inspired to create my own version.
In the video below, I talk about how I read, I show you some of my book collection, how I discover books, what annoys me as a reader and how I review and share the love.
You can watch the video below or here on YouTube, or read the notes underneath, which include (affiliate) links to the books I talk about. The mic is a little off (I've got a new one on order) but I hope you enjoy it!
How do I read now … and how I ended up that way
I read primarily on the Kindle Paperwhite at home, the Kindle app on the iPhone 5. In the video, I demonstrate my ‘reading on the Tube' technique, page turning and highlighting!
I love the auto-synch between devices. I finish in bed on the Paperwhite and start on the Tube on my iPhone. I get highlights from non-fiction on the Kindle app on the Mac when I am working – I LOVE highlighting. I'm probably an addict! I later transfer my highlighted notes to my notebooks by hand.
I own over 1000 books on Kindle and have about 200 samples on my Paperwhite right now. In the same way that owning print books was part of my life even without reading them, it's the same for ebooks.I also think it's an extension of my brain and I use search on the Mac app when I want to research stuff and often find books I haven't read in a while.
I rarely read paper and never read fiction in print anymore. I do own some non-fiction in print and I show you some of my books in the video:
- Textbooks – STORY by Robert McKee
- Poetry – An African Elegy by Ben Okri (only available second-hand)
- Beautiful art books / Talisman books – Alchemy and Mysticism. I mention the Wellcome Collection Blackwells bookstore which is my addiction, as well as Waterstones Piccadilly and Foyles on Charing Cross Road.
- Books to keep forever – The Red Book by Carl Jung oversize full color edition, The Empire of Death by Paul Koudounaris and Palestine by Henry Bordeaux (antique)
- Travel books – Lonely Planet South India and Kerala from our cycling trip
I also listen to some non-fiction audiobooks: Jack Canfield – The Success Principles and Steven Pressfield's Turning Pro. I own both of these books in ebook, print and audio formats as they continue to have a huge impact on me.
One of the reasons I believe digital is the future is the demographic shift into cities and smaller space living. Americans may not see this so much, but in Europe, we mostly live in smaller spaces and physical books clutter the place quickly.
We left behind over 2000 print books when we left Australia – many of which I had paid to ship from England to New Zealand and then on to Brisbane. It was practically impossible to sell them second-hand so we gave most of them away to local students. I find I am now replacing books I used to own in paper on ebooks even if I am not ready to re-read them yet.
I probably read about 5x as much fiction now as I used to in print, because of the prohibitive cost in Australia and New Zealand.
Why am I a Kindle customer?
It's basically first mover advantage! I love Kobo and iBooks and Nook and all the other options but they weren't around when I started on ebooks.
I was living in Australia in 2008/2009 when e-readers started to emerge. At the time, print books were AU$25-$35 which is about 3x the price of UK books. I had almost stopped reading fiction and my non-fiction reading had dropped significantly.
The Sony Reader was the first on my radar but it wasn't compelling. Then the Kindle launched and I was hooked. Here's my review of the first international Kindle. [That brings back memories!]
I continue to be a very happy Kindle junkie!
How do I find books
If I know and love the author and the book is available on Kindle, I will pre-order it. I don't worry too much about price.
For impulse purchases, I will buy anything I fancy under £2 (US$4), but I don't usually download free books. I prefer to pay, and I'm not a member of Kindle Unlimited, mainly because so many books are not in KU that I want to read.
I don't have a budget for books, so I buy what I want, when I want. I buy books almost every day, but then it's pretty much my only vice!
I will buy books to keep for later and I don't necessarily read everything I buy. When I'm researching something e.g. mythology, I will search in my own ebook library first to see if I have already bought something on the topic since I often buy in order to “own” books, as I did with print.
For fiction, I browse the genre categories of thriller, dark fantasy, non-fiction etc for books released in the last 30 days.
I rarely browse the overall bestseller lists as my book turnover is so fast. I definitely download samples based on cover design – I picked up Jonathan Maberry's Code Zero because I loved the cover and have spent the last month binge reading his Joe Ledger series.
I will pay more for non-fiction and will buy from unknown authors more easily if the topic grabs me. If I can learn a couple of new things per non-fiction book, I consider that worth the money.
I will often buy based on listening to author interviews on podcasts or books recommended by bloggers like Tim Ferriss. I also monitor the fantastic Brain Pickings site and get a lot of books from there. Plus, I find books on twitter through recommendations that way.
When I find things I like, I sample. That means that I download a percentage. I usually give the book 4- 5 clicks/page turns and if it hasn't grabbed me, I delete the sample. If I make it to the end of the sample, I will usually buy and continue reading. I've talked in length about the importance of sampling for authors before.
What annoys me as a reader
- Books not available as Kindle books, for example, the entire James Michener backlist, which is substantial and weighty. The Source is one of my favorite books and it's not on ebook. Seriously Random House, sort that out!
- US first releases. In a world of online marketing, staggered releases by region is just a pain and annoys readers. I will see a tweet from the author on release and then I will forget about it unless I can immediately download a sample.
- Print only launches. I generally won't buy books in print so if you don't release a Kindle version on launch, I may well have forgotten it by the time the ebook version comes out. At least include a pre-order button if you want to do print first.
- Samples that include acknowledgements, forewords, essays by someone else etc. That should all go at the back so I don't have to wade through that. Make sure your words hook me and I don't have to wade through
- Ebooks that are clearly just scanned versions of print books so they don't flow properly. Please invest in doing a specific edition for Kindle.
How I review books
Since the sock puppet controversy, I have mostly stopped reviewing on Amazon in case of any issues there. So I review on Goodreads instead – follow my reviews here.
I include book recommendations in both my newsletters – fiction for J.F.Penn subscribers and non-fiction for TheCreativePenn subscribers.
I do blog posts with lists of books like my Christmas reading list, or thrillers for a winter's night. Plus I have this list of fiction books I love, and this list of non-fiction books for writers.
I also share a lot on social media, primarily Twitter, with buy links. Plus, I buy books for others as my primary gifting.
Richard Paley says
Since got a Kindle for Christmas 2 years ago I mainly read ebooks. The only exception been Discworld books as like having print version. If for no other reason that have the rest of the series like that.
Had hoped Kindle would get me reading more but still only manage 4 or 5 books a year.
Am terrible at finding books. My current system is if like the film should like the book.
Joanna Penn says
If you want to read more, try a Goodreads Reading Goal – they also have great recommendation engines once you enter what you like. For fantasy books, check out Lindsay Buroker http://www.lindsayburoker.com/fantasy-novels/
C.E. Martin says
Since you asked…
i started ereading on a Palm Pilot sometime ago. I had been lucky enough to find the old Doc Savage pulp novels in PDF, preserving my aging collection of them in paperback. When I upgraded to a Samsung smartphone about 4 years ago, I discovered Kindle and slowly began changing.
today, I read on my Toshiba tablet or my new smartphone–either via the Kindle app or pdfs. I cant hardly touch a print book. I prefer the self-illuminated, one-handed ease of an ebook.
I just wish I had more time to read. Between working, my own writing/self-publishing and spending time with my kids and the lure of Netflix, I don’t read very much at all. Maybe a book a month, if that. Sad.
Eduardo Suastegui says
I’m definitely a eReader only guy now. A while back I read an article relaying results from a study that compared reader experience between print and digital. The conclusions stated that those who read digitally retain less and different information (IIRC). That bothers me a bit, though I don’t know it applies to me. Anyone else notice a difference?
Joanna Penn says
I think that study was a classic case of bias 🙂 The establishment have a vested interest in maintaining print dominance. Also, what sample were they using? age group etc. I’m married to a statistician so I am always very wary of studies 🙂
Rocky Mountain Woman says
I’ve been reading here for a while and had to come out of lurkdom to say I love James Michener and also am sad that I can’t get his books electronically! His books (especially his earlier works) were the catalyst for my obessive reading habit.
I also buy books just to own them, both electronic and paper books, especially beautifully photographed cookbooks.
I have issues with insomnia and have been wondering if my ipad is some of my problem. I’m thinking of buying a paperwhite to keep by my bed for reading at night so it’s nice to know that works for you.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks for unlurking – and I agree on Michener 🙂 Some days I want to email his estate and see if I can get the digital rights. I’d have them out in no time!
Definitely ditch the iPad – light is one of the biggest issues for insomnia. Get a Paperwhite and turn the light right down – it will help!
Marion Hill says
Excellent post, Joanna!
I got my Kindle Paperwhite as a Christmas present in 2013 and I have slowly been converted into a digital book reader.
I still love my paperbacks and hardbacks (and I have them for my all-time favorite books) but I must admit that the Kindle Paperwhite has grown on me. It’s so convenient to have your entire library on one device.
I read Pentecost as one of my first reads on that Paperwhite last year and realized my hangups about digital books were unfounded.
I’m currently reading The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber on my Kindle and it’s been great.
Once you become a Kindle user, you will never go back. LOL!!
Keep up the good work.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks for sharing Marion – and for checking out Pentecost 🙂
Gwyneth Marshman says
Loved this post! I used to be a really voracious reader, but over the years I got out of the habit. So I decided to make an effort to get back into it, and have now set myself a challenge: to read one book per fortnight and blog about it, specifically about how that book alters my view of the world and what practical changes I make to my life as a result of it. The aim is to remind myself of the importance of reading!
I’ve posted a kind of ‘rationale’ for this challenge on my blog/website; the first book ‘review’ is also up there if you want to take a look… http://gwynethmarshman.com/book-blog/
PS: the ARKANE series is on my list of books to read in between the blog challenge books… 😉
Joanna Penn says
Thanks for sharing, Gwyneth – and I always like to balance consumption and production, like you do! All the best with the challenge – and thanks for including ARKANE books on your list!
Angelica Kidd says
I do most of my reading on the Kindle app for iPhone. I’m subscribed to several “free ebooks for Kindle app” newsletters and do all of my searching through there. I like to tell myself that I mostly enjoy purchasing the free thriller and horror ebooks as these are my favorite genres but I’m becoming more concerned with the amount of “heartwarming” ebooks that I’ve downloaded in the last couple of weeks. Right now I’m working on “Shattered Rose” by Tammy L. Gray. I have quite a few ebooks downloaded to the Kindle app and this is the first book that I’ve actually taken the time to read through. I’m a bit of an “ebook hoarder.” ?