Friday, September 7, 2012

Kindle Paperwhite

Yesterday was a busy one for publishing news. It would burst my brain to tell you all of it in detail, so I'll stick to the briefest outline, with a brief look at one service followed by a more in-depth focus on one device.

Amazon made a series of announcements yesterday about media-consuming hardware and services that will, yet again, change the way many of us read. (If you want all the details, watch the video embedded at the end of this post. Or read articles here and here.)

What I want to take a brief look at is one of the services announced: Kindle Serials. This is a book sent to your device in installments, as it's released, automatically. The cool part is that you only pay once, upfront. (Current introductory price $1.99.) And then the installments just show up on your device, added seamlessly to what you have. So only have to read, with no thinking beyond that initial purchase decision.

I think this might be a game-changer--though I suspect it could take a while to catch on, not unlike digital downloads of audio books.

But what I really want to focus on is one of the new devices: the Kindle Paperwhite. I want one. It costs $119 and ships on October 1. It's called Paperwhite because a) the whites are whiter and the blacks are blackers and b) it is front lit. You can read it in the dark, but without glare, because the light is beamed down onto the text, not up at your eyes. In other words, you see the text the way you would see it in a paper book in bright sunlight. And no glare. Oh, also that light is supremely adjustable, so you can read it at night when your sweetie is asleep. And--and this is really fab--you can get eight weeks of battery life with that light on all the time.

Below are a few screenshots from the video presentation. With the Paperwhite you can not only resize the font, you can choose what it looks like:

Here's a nice drop-cap, in Palatino.

Using the X-Ray feature, you can call up a schematic of the various characters in the book, showing when they appear:

Then you can go deeper into one of those characters:

You can look at the author bio, which, thrillingly, lists their bibliography. Each book is just one click--sixty seconds--away:

Speaking as a writer, this is going to rock my world: when a reader enjoys, say, The Blue Place, she can move seamlessly to Stay (and, hopefully, Always). This will make for happier readers and slightly more healthy royalty cheques for writers. The size of these cheques will be interesting, though, because yesterday a judge (just as Bezos was about to begin the presentation) approved the e-book price-fixing settlement proposed by the Department of Justice and three of the five Big Six U.S. publishers being sued for collusion and price-fixing. Two other Big Six publishers are going to court next June. One isn't involved at all. All my novels are published by Big Six publishers: Random House (Stay, Ammonite, Slow River), HarperCollins (The Blue Place), Penguin (Always), and Macmillan (Hild). But those publishers are all in slightly different place with the lawsuit. Different pricing rules will apply to my various novels. So I await price changes with interest.

As a bonus, here's a screenshot of recent Kindle best-sellers. One of these authors is a Sterling Editing client, so that was a rush:

And here's Bezos's presentation:

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