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Read More by Listening

Read More by Listening

I love to read, but it is nearly impossible to read as much as I wish.  Between professional and personal obligations, there is not enough hours during a day.  Unfortunately, the volume of brand new material released every year does not allow me to see my reading list dwindle very far.  For every book I knock off the list, it seems like I add two or three new ones to take its place.  This does not even account for the material that I want to read a second or third time.

We all have dreaded commutes and repetitious physical activity time such as working out in the gym.  I am an advocate for using this time to listen to books.  I find driving or working out on cardio equipment is a perfect time to help knock down that reading list.  While I certainly enjoy listening to an audio book, I do not do it all the time.  I find that if I listen to audio books too frequently that I will usually begin to daydream and let my mind wander off the material.  So I cycle between listening to music and listening to audio books.  Usually, it is two weeks of listening to books to one week of listening to music.

When I am in a more audio book focused mindset, I knock out an additional 20 books a year by simply using the time in my car or working out in the gym.  I do not read in the evenings at anywhere near this rate and typically finish a book a month.  Listening to books allows me to expand my annual book consumption by over 100%.

Additionally, I prefer to listen to books that are more personal interest versus reading more business focused material. Only about one in three audio books is related to business or personal development.  The other two books tend to be biographical, historical, or educational in nature.  I am not one that is fond of listening to works of fiction.  I do read fiction, but it is almost always on my Kindle.  For me, a talented fiction writer is someone who can take me into the world of the book and leave my sense of reality. I lose all track of time and sense of place while reading and stop seeing the pages. The story exists in only my mind’s eye.  I have never experienced this while listening to an audio book…I think it is just something about the process of reading that allows me to join the book’s world so vividly.

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Successes in Self-Publishing

Successes in Self-Publishing

Everyone loves a success from scratch story, and I am no different.  I have been reading about authors that are beginning to self-publish.  This trend has traditional publishers nervous to say the least.  I can completely understand publishers’ concerns about losing their authors and book sales.  For the authors, I completely understand why they are beginning to push into the self-publishing space.  Why give a majority of the proceeds away from the book sales to the publisher and deal with the creative differences between the author and the business side of publishing when the Internet and e-books are readily available.

A case in point to consider is Amanda Hocking.  She is a twenty something author that has successfully published several e-books and generated more than $1 million in personal revenue from her book sales.  She is making a serious name for herself and has her own author page on the Amazon bookstore.  This is a true success from scratch story, and I love her approach and tenacity to pull off what, just a few years ago, would have been impossible.  She has broken into that small select group of published authors without a traditional publisher.

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Photo Credit: Amazon.com
Kindle moves slowly in the right direction

Kindle moves slowly in the right direction

Amazon.com announced a few days ago that Kindle users would be able to lend books to other Kindle users. I cannot say that I was surprised by this move, as its competitors are farther down the road than Amazon. What did surprise me was the allowance of Kindle applications to participate in the lending program. I feared Amazon would restrict this to device owners as a way to promote device sales. What is truly disappointing is the single lend rule. It is reasonable to restrict a book lender from reading a book that has been lent and limit the duration of a loaned book. However, I find the restriction of only lending a book once ridiculous. I really do not see why such harsh restrictions are being levied at the very users who are promoting content to other users. Maybe, I am just reading the site wrong. Maybe, it is only a limitation on the number of times you can lend the same book to the same person. Time will tell, as the posting by Amazon is rather short and does not offer any concrete details of the program.

How many times have you lent a single book that you purchased? I must say that I am not a very big lender of books and have only lent a few books in my entire life. I am protective of my books, and I like to keep them in good condition. I always fear a book will be damaged by some careless recipient of my lending generosity. Well, with the advent of e-books, I no longer have to worry about damage to a physical book, but now I am still highly restricted on what I can do with a book I purchased. The publishers have complete control in the Amazon program and can prevent their content from participating. In traditional publishing, they could never exert this kind of control. From a business model, it still seems as if the publishers are only coming to the e-book market reluctantly while kicking and screaming just as the music industry did. One day, I wish somebody would sit me down and explain why e-books and liberal lending policies are bad for the publishing business.

The other good news coming out of Amazon is the expansion of its Kindle applications to support periodicals. The lack of periodical support in the Kindle applications was a serious shortcoming that I am shocked was not addressed many months ago. The periodical publishers have been flocking to the iPad and Amazon might be seeing their subscription rates being impacted. Amazon completely owned the e-book market and could have built a complete iron fence around the industry. Unfortunately, visionaries do not always execute well. Looking back at the record of Amazon’s Kindle, we can see a lot of business that was left on the table because of bad business decisions, design challenges, and overly restricting consumer usage rights.

Why don’t we have a single e-book or digital rights standard by now? If I buy a book from (insert company name here), I cannot use it on a competitors’ device. This is still the biggest fundamental failure in digital book publishing and one that must be resolved to promote industry growth and protect consumer choice.

While I wait for this reality to enfold over time, I will just have to curl up with my Kindle and read a good book.

Photo Credit: Amazon.com
Amazon Kindle for Blackberry – Two Weeks Later

Amazon Kindle for Blackberry – Two Weeks Later

I definitely had some challenges getting the Amazon Kindle application for my Blackberry Storm2 downloaded and installed. However, since getting the application downloaded, I have had zero problems with it. The transfer of books to the device over my device’s wireless Internet connection is flawless. I would not use the application’s built-in interface for purchasing new books because it leaves a lot of functionality to be desired that I find useful in the Amazon website.

I have enjoyed being able to pop open the book that I am currently reading whenever I have a few minutes to spare. It is a lot more productive than staring off into space or reading whatever is lying on the table while waiting to get your haircut or sitting at a doctor’s office. I have been surprised how many times over the course of the last two weeks that I have found 5 to 10 minutes to spare and get through several pages in the book I am currently reading. When I go home and open up my Kindle at the house, it is aware that I have advanced in the book and updates accordingly. This is probably my absolute favorite feature.

I have found that reading on my Blackberry is enjoyable but not nearly enough to replace my Kindle or a traditional book. It is convenient and that is its biggest selling point. The flipping of pages is quick and easy on the Storm2. The small screen means you spending significant time flipping pages by pressing on the side of your Strom2 screen and keeping your backlight on so battery life will take a hit.

Over all, the application is a solid offering by Amazon and should make many Kindle users even bigger fans.

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