Stockpiled…

Thanks to Amazon, my Kindle is now happily stocked with what could well be months of reading material – ranging from the Battle of Jutland to the reign of Richard III to fiction of a decidedly pulp variety. It makes me happier than it probably should.

I’ll admit that I was a holdout during the formative years of the e-reader, but I’ve come to appreciate it all the more as time goes by. While I miss the more frequent binge visits to the book store, there’s something deeply satisfying about having the preponderance of whatever you may want to read available at the stroke of a few keys.

I suppose I have to grudgingly admit that the pre-Cyber Monday sales from Amazon where good for something after all. I’ve heard it said that you can’t buy happiness, but as long as you can buy books, I’m not at all sure that’s true.

A piece of work…

Without the kind of fanfare that accompanies something like an Apple Watch or iPhone, Amazon rolled out its latest and greatest e-ink reader today. It’s been my experience that people who spend a lot of their time reading are not necessarily the wild, loud, in your face types. That the Voyage showed up lacking in heraldry and great celebration feels almost fitting for the demographic it’s intended to serve.

I haven’t had any hands on experience yet, but the reviews I’ve read tout is as a best in class e-reader. That’s not exactly a surprise considering it predecessors were mostly best in class devices themselves when they arrived. I should go on the record saying that I like my current Kindle Paperwhite. It’s not a tablet. It doesn’t even pretend to be. Its mission in life is to replicate the look of a real paper reading experience as close as possible using an electronic medium. It took me some time to get with the program, but once I did I haven’t looked back. I couldn’t tell you the last paper book I purchased for myself. Having all the books at my fingertips is simply too great a temptation to resist.

If the iPhone is the Swiss army knife of consumer electronic communications, surely Kindle is the Ka-Bar equivalent – a single fixed blade designed to do exactly one thing and to do it with savage precision. I have no doubt that the new Voyage lives up to Amazon’s well deserved reputation building the kings of the e-reader universe.

I’d have my order in already if it weren’t for one pesky detail – the $199 entry-level price point ($219 if you don’t want built in advertisements). At that price, I’m going to have to sit the upgrade out for the time being. Although Voyage is technically superior in nearly every respect to my nearly two year old first generation Paperwhite that old model is still an incredibly reliable device that’s delivering rock solid performance every day. As much as I want to I can’t find a good enough reason to put it out to pasture yet – not even with a $40 Amazon gift card thrown into the mix.

When I’m willing to hang on to two year old tech because it’s still that good, you can best believe it’s a piece of work. In the best possible way.

Introduction to Smashwords…

So over the weekend, I realize that I may have not done a very good job explaining one of the retail channels I selected to do business with. Being the biggest in the business, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are pretty much self explanatory. They’re forces of nature that you just accept you’ll do business with if you want to write and publish a book. Sure, you can work around them, but why would you want to?

The third retailer I opted to work with is Smashwords. Unless you have a deep abiding hatred of the big e-retailers or are a serious fan of independent writers, chances are you’ve never heard of them. Hopefully I allretailers can turn you around a bit on that, because I’ve found Smashwords to be a fantastic platform for the indy writer (translation: the author gets to keep a much larger percentage of every sale than they do with sales through other retailers).

Although they are a retailer in their own right, Smashwords biggest claim to fame is that they are large and growing ebook distributor. That means their primary mission in life is making indy works available to a wide variety of other retailers like Apple, Sony, Kobo, and others. This is a good thing because the goal, really, is to have your work available in as many places as possible in addition to the Big Two. More distribution channels means more opportunities for someone to see and hopefully buy your ebook… and that makes for a happy author.

From a reader’s perspective, Smashwords has a lot going for it too. Primarily, that’s because once you buy an ebook from them, you can download it in all of the major ereader formats. Whether you own a Nook, Kindle, or iPad, a Sony reader, something from Kobo, or you just want to read on your laptop or desktop, you can download your book in a format best suited for what device you’re currently using. It’s a great way to make sure your ebooks are not locked in to a specific device or proprietary format. While the e-reader market struggles to sort itself and its industry standards out, you’re safe from the impacts of format change and obsolescence. If you happen to be a voracious reader with a large e-library, that’s a very good thing.

So that’s my pitch by way of introducing everyone to Smashwords. If you’re looking for a read that’s not on the best seller list or have a itch for some of the great independent work out there today, give them a go. I’ve been very impressed with them as both a writer and a reader for the last year. If you’re in a clicking mood, feel free to check out The Cynic’s Guide on Smashwords and take a look around the site.

The moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to tell you tonight that the moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. My first book, Nobody Told Me… The Cynic’s Guide for New Employees, is now available through three major retail partners – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

For the low, low introductory price of $2.99, you can enjoy (and critique) the fruits of my labor… so act now to lock in the introductory price before it goes up to full retail. Until I learn more about the printing side of this business, Nobody Told Me will be available as an ebook only.Cover

This has been a fantastic project and I’ve had a lot of help getting to this point – without naming names, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has had a hand in editing, provided material, or just let me talk though the ideas when I needed to. It would never have gotten done without your help.

To those of you who are considering laying down your hard earned money for this book, I want to thank you too – not just for supporting the notion that an independent writer has a shot at getting his work in front of people – but because you’re going to get a chance to look at the first edition. Even though it’s been through many, many cycles of editing I’m absolutely sure there are places where things can still be better. I want everyone to feel free to make recommendations, provide feedback, and have a hand in the process. I promise I won’t take it personally; not to mention once changes are made, you get to download the updates for free… and who doesn’t like free?

In conclusion, buy my book. Thank you for your attention in this matter.

P.S. Don’t forget to become a fan of my new “official” Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/official.jeffrey.tharp,

Mini…

So it seems that Apple is going to go ahead an announce the iPad Mini next week. Between now and then I’ll be doing my best to convince myself that trading in a six month old full sized iPad for a smaller version is a bad idea. I’m serious this time. Unless there are some pretty damned compelling features, I’m most likely going to be sitting this one out… although I won’t lie, it would be nice to have all my i-devices using a standard power source again. Keeping up with the old 30-pin docking cord and the new lightning cord has been a legitimate hassle, but I’m not sure it’s been enough of a hassle to justify switching devices in the middle of the product cycle. Even so, I’ll be watching next week’s media event with some serious interest.

Complicating matters even more, is the notion I’ve been kicking around of retiring my original Kindle keyboard e-reader in favor of the new Paperwhite model. I love reading on the Kindle. It does one thing and it does that one thing incredibly well. Even though Kindlem, to me, is a better reading exoerience, I default to the iPad for reading at night for the simple reason that it doesn’t require keeping a light on to do it. The front-lit Paperwhite appears to be the solution to needing either a backlit screen or an external light source at night. I’d really like to give it a test drive for a few nights and see how it handles. Sometimes I think it’s a real pity that there’s so much amazing tech on the market right now and so few hours in which to play with it all… but usually I just lump it into the category called “Awesome.”

It’s not a fad…

When I walked into the Toyota dealership’s waiting room this morning I took a quick lookie-loo at the dozen or so people sitting there trying not to make eye contact with one another. I’ve known for years that I’d be more or less lost without my iPad, but what I saw in that room legitimately surprised me. I counted two laptops, five iPads, one Kindle Fire, one Nook, one Android tablet of unspecified origin, one old guy reading an actual dead tree newspaper, and one lone soul actually watching whatever Saturday morning kid’s drivel they were showing on television. So out of a dozen people, eight were fully engaged with their tablets. Two years ago sitting in another Toyota dealership waiting for my truck my iPad was a curiosity and garnered plenty of questions. This morning, they were the rule rather than the exception. And that’s when I became well and truly convinced that the tablets aren’t going to be an electronic fad, but a legitimate way of the future.

Kindle…

I have a Kindle app on my iPad, I have a Kindle app on my iPhone, I even have a two month old Kindle sitting in the living room on the table beside my big comfy chair. Despite all logic to the contrary, I still find myself looking at the new and improved Kindles trying to convolute logic just enough to justify buying a new one. It’s obvious that I absolutely, positively don’t need one. It’s even more obvious when I admit that even though I have an actual Kindle, I use my iPad for 90% of the reading I do. So, yeah, I’m going to do my best to resist the temptation to run out and spend $150 on a new device that’s mostly just going to sit around. Especially since in another few weeks I’ll be hot on the trail of the latest and greatest iPhone.

Sigh. It’s sad that there’s so much tech and so little time. The new Kindles do look slick, though. If anyone is picking one up, let me know how it handles. Maybe you can give me the nudge I need to sell my lightly used current model at a deep discount. Come on. Be an enabler. You know you want to.