E-readers aren’t sexy (but still awesome)

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I recently came back from a brief, two-week trip in East Asia which included stops in Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo. It was loads of fun! But I made the mistake of bringing a book that I didn’t really like and it made all the waiting in airports super painful.

I know, First World Problems, right?

Well, I really felt sorry for myself because I could have brought my Kindle and bought any other, better, book on the fly.

On a side note, I’d like to congratulate my cousin L. on buying his very first Kindle and welcome him to the weird club of e-reader readers. L. bought the Kindle because he had always wanted one and found out that it qualifies for same-day shipping with Amazon Prime. A fan of new and shiny objects with touch screens, he opted for the Kindle Paperwhite with a built-in light.

I was a little surprised L. bought an e-reader because he’s an early adopter and unlike other portable devices, the e-reader never got its sexy back. It’s more or less still a bonified etch and sketch. Newer versions of Kindles and Kobos have added a fancy light and other high(er) tech upgrades like uh, page numbers and less flickering when turning pages.

In fact, e-readers haven’t even been sexy enough to replace books — which some people argue are unsexy in their own right.

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Alas, I’m still a big believer in e-readers and, after all these years, I STILL use my Kindle Keyboard. Yes, it’s got a KEYBOARD and no touchscreen. Isn’t it beautiful?

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I can buy books and read them while in bed – without even getting dressed. Also, I can travel with a dozen Russian novels in my back pocket.

So, welcome to the club L. Feel proud because now you can read Fifty Shades on the subway without getting weird looks. (No really, don’t do it.)

P.S. For all you other Kindle owners, check out Buzzfeed’s article on “21 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Your Kindle.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

This is my fourth edition of Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly event held by Breaking the Spine.

It’s official, JK Rowling’s new book is out for pre-order. But at $20 for an ebook version – will you order it?

The consensus on Kindle seems to be to wait it out. Twenty bucks is a lot to shell out for an ebook especially when no one has weighed in on whether it’s any good. On the other hand, Potter die-hards like myself are just itching to get our hands on this book because we secretly hope it’s a continuation of Harry Potter in some shape or form.

Sadly, it’s not.

Here’s what it’s actually about:

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

And it was recently revealed that Rowling is withholding her novel from some foreign publishers till after the English edition is released. Those poor souls in Italy, Finland and Slovenia will either have to wait or risk reading badly translated versions of the novel because they’ve been deemed high-risk for leaking pirated copies of the book. No doubt, a counterfeit version will be published in China before the English ones get close to bookstores.

Ahem: @JKRowling #BringBackDobby, k thx.

No, not that kind of pirate.

How much would you pay for good content?

I was listening to Clay Johnson speak at Mesh conference last month. Mesh is a digital marketing conference that happens in Toronto every year and it’s known for three things: 1) great speakers, 2) great swag, and 3) outrageous prices for attendance.

So ask your employer if they’ll cover the cost of Mesh and if they say no, pay for it out of your own pocket. It’s that good.

But back to Clay Johnson — he’s the author of The Information Diet, a book about how we’re consuming way too much content. And just like how our diets are full of junk, our information diet is also full of crap. And junk content is frying our brains, making us dumb.

He also noted during his speech that his book cost less than an empty Moleskine notebook meaning that he could have made more money if he left the pages of his book blank. And that’s when he chewed us out for not paying for content.

So when I ran out of my 10 free articles from New York Times last month, I thought it was time I started paying for good, high-quality content. I’ve been reading the New York Times online for over 10 years and it’s never disappointed me with its fantastic writing, photos and more recently, short video documentaries.

Sure, Twitter gives me my news faster but anyone can bang out 140 characters about how they thought they felt an earthquake. NYTimes tells me why I should care or at least why anyone cares.

Maybe you hate NYTimes and all its elitist, New Yorker mentality. Fair enough. But think about the last amazing thing you read and ask yourself, how much would you pay for it?

Of course, I know I’m preaching to the converted. This is a book blog and most people still pay for books. But there are lots of people complaining about how e-book prices need to be lower. And many more people think NYTimes should have stayed free.

I should note that I pay $15/month (the equivalent of three lattes at Starbucks) and I read way more articles knowing that I paid for it.

The Wild, Wild World of Wattpad

You may have noticed that Broken Penguin entries have been a little sparse this week. That’s because I’ve been busy attending sessions for Social Media Week Toronto! That, and because my bf and I had to hit up our favourite burger joint for Valentine’s Day. ‘Cause we classy like that.

In my Social Media Week adventures, I met the team at Wattpad. If you haven’t heard of Wattpad, you should check out their website and download their app. It’s free!

Wattpad lets authors share their stories with the 3 million Wattpad users who read, comment and share (not unlike us book bloggers!). It truly takes reading stories to a whole new interactive level. The co-founder of Wattpad says that 5,000 stories were shared in the last 12 hours. Unlike traditional publishers like Penguin, Wattpad is not about exclusivity. Anyone and everyone can post a story.

When I shared the concept on Twitter, I immediately received questions about how these authors make money. The answer is: it’s not about the money. Usually.

From what I understand, a select few Wattpad authors who are very marketing-savvy have managed to attract a following and secure book deals. But the majority of Wattpad authors just want to share their stories for fun.

The only real problem for me is that Wattpad has so many stories, it’s difficult to know what to read first. Every genre you can think of is available at Wattpad. While some authors publish a whole book at once, some publish chapter by chapter to keep readers coming back.

And along with the countless great stories, there are many more not-so-great stories. It truly is the wild west of stories. So how to filter out the bad cowboys? Wattpad says they’re looking for new ways to help people find the stories they want to read.

I hope to read some of these stories and tell you about them in the next few weeks. What do you think of Wattpad?

More than 13,000 results came up on Wattpad for romantic westerns.

Photo credits: oraclefox.blogspot.com, business.financialpost.comfeatures.cgsociety.org, homotrophy.com