Why I Do Not Hate The Kindle, Despite the Fact That I Do Not Own One, and Most Probably Never Will, Unless The Earth is Conquered by Hideous Lizard Aliens and Our Alien Overlords Decree That We Must All Use Kindles, Which Would be Insane

By | October 10, 2008 | 18 Comments

The other afternoon I wandered downstairs onto the first floor of the Somers Manse for the first time in weeks. I avoid the first floor because the front door is located there and past experience has taught me that the front door is the gateway through which the outside world torments me. Neighbors always want to speak with me about vague “behavior” issues, their children always want to taunt me with childish insults and name – calling, and authorities of all kinds are always delivering subpoenas or demanding admittance to ask me questions – all very tedious.

So, despite the fact that it inspires the local kids to more and more creative names for me, I tend to stay upstairs, where I have everything I need: My tatter bathrobe, my Converse Chucks, bottles of Rye in the desk drawers (for sustenance), and plumbing facilities. Whenever I am lured downstairs I always seem to get into trouble.

This time, however, I found to my delight my first royalty statements for The Electric Church. Discovering that several thousand people you don’t know personally have opted to spend money on your book is always cause for celebration, and the next 24 hours are a bit of a blur.

When I woke up, I took another glance at the statement and discovered that a good number of folks had bought TEC electronically. I don’t know for sure that all – or any – of these were Kindle sales, but I assume at least some of them must have been. This remains a tiny, tiny portion of my sales, but you hear a lot about the Kindle. Personally, I’d rather have bamboo shoots slid under my toenails than read a book on the kindle, but then I am also the Last Man on Earth to Not Own a Personal Cell Phone, so I’m obviously an idiot. When the Kindle first emerged I thought it would die a quick, smothered death, but it hangs on, doesn’t it. not exactly taking the world by storm, but still. . .there.

I’ll probably never own one, or anything similar. I just like books too much. While my sad devotion to an ancient technology is. . .well, sad, it doesn’t bother me much. I enjoy gloating over my stacks and stacks of cheap paperbacks too much. Carrying around all the same books in one brick-like digital reader just depresses me. Plus, I worry about DRM issues and not actually owning anything. It’s bad enough that I had to replace all my old Iron Maiden cassettes with CDs, if I have to buy old 1980s Del Rey fantasy books all over again just to satisfy my OCD tendencies, I will cry. And I don’t doubt at all that 10 years from now the kindle will be a convenient paperweight and we’ll all have to re-buy all of our books on the Apple iBook or some such bullshit.

Still, I don’t hate the kindle. No, really. The rosy glow of book geek joy that emanates from folks when they’ve just bought one means that at least people are excited about reading, and as an author I can’t look down on that, now can I? If it gets people to read more, than I’m all for it. Just like that dreadful Harry Potter.

Oh well. No one is paying any attention to a rummy skiffy writer like me, and thank goodness. If people were paying attention to  me, we’d likely be going through some sort of worldwide economic crisis. . .oh dear.

Categories: , Bullshit, Filthy Lucre

18 Comments

  • CK says:

    Hi Jeff, Just wanted to send you a big fat THANK YOU for TEC and TDP. I found TEC by browsing in the bookstore and ended up immediately buying its sequel after I finished. Honestly, it’d been a bit too long since a book really grabbed me by the collar and wouldn’t let go until the last page. Haha, I was starting to think things like ‘am I losing me sense of humor? Imagination?’ (a touch paranoid, I know, but finishing an accounting degree can create legitimate concerns) but no, I just hadn’t found TEC yet. I was really pleased that it is one of those books that makes you all antsy and you have to tell someone about it *right now*…unfortunately I had finished it at 3am and the only person around was my mom.
    I’m nagging all my friends and passing the books on to my sister. She was on a business trip recently, had nothing to read, and ended up buying Twilight at the airport bookstore. My heart went out to her when she told me, so I’m lending her my copies; she’s the one who introduced me to Battle Angel Alita, so I guess it’s time to return the favor.
    Somewhere Jay Conrad Levinson is probably nodding and looking pleased with himself, but I think stuff like this is the natural reaction to a job well done.
    So anyway, thanks and keep being awesome! You know, when Avery starts laughing, Im usually grinning as well. The way things can get so batshit (in a good way)…you have my eternal admiration. I was wondering how TDP would match up to its predecessor and you totally delivered.

    And not to be too OT: eBook readers always struck me as inherently flawed…which is to say, what a tiny screen! Seems like a customer would be someone who reads a lot, but then one would think that a lot of readers have less-than-perfect eyes after years and years of, well, reading. Oh well, I could see the use in having one for, say, a traveller stranded in an airport, choosing between reading Twilight and not reading anything =) (ooh, catty). –CK

  • Diamat says:

    Hey! Pay dirt!

    Congratulations — you can now buy either Iceland or the interational banking conglomerate with the logo that appeals to you most.

    Or, wait until next week, and you’ll be able to buy both.

  • Diamat says:

    Meant to add — I am having a celebratory shot of JB rye in your belated honour.

    Any excuse.

  • jsomers says:

    Diamat,

    Sadly, I get paid in US dollars. WHich means I can buy. . .well, not much. Pretty soon we’ll drag the Euro down with us, and then you’ll be sitting pretty, able to buy and sell me on a whim. Please be kind.

    L
    J

  • jsomers says:

    CK,

    Wow–thank you for the note! That’s wonderful to read in the morning while drinking coffee. I’m really glad you enjoyed the books so much, and thanks for spreading them around.

    I’m going to have “So anyway, thanks and keep being awesome!” emblazoned on my business cards. On one side they will say

    JEFF SOMERS
    awesome

    and on the other will be your quote. Thanks!

    L
    J

  • Smedley says:

    When i see someone reading an “ebook” I punch them in the face. Seems like the least I could do for a person missing out on the enjoyment of reading a book with ink and paper.

  • Philman says:

    Hey Jeff, I got the latest Inner Swine and you mentioned this site, so I had to look. Despite what you claim, I also have elected not to be a chattering idiot and don’t have a cell phone. The reasons are simple: They suck; they cost too much; and aliens are using them as tracking devices to find us. Remember that old Twilight Zone episode?
    To Serve Man? Yeah. As for Kindle, I say: You can have my paperback books when you pry them from my cold, dead hands. Even then you can expect zombie Philman to put up one hell of a fight.

  • jsomers says:

    Smedley,

    I don’t have such a violent reaction. For me, it’s “Meh.” Ebooks will eventually rule the world, I think, but only when there is true epaper that will allow us to have the same pleasing and convenient form factor of a book.

    I will always love paper books, and will likely be interviewed as the Last Crotchety Old Man What Doesn’t Own an Ebook Reader, but that’s just me.

    J

  • jsomers says:

    Philman of the Savage Zine!

    Good to hear from you. Although now I have to add “Zombie Philman” to my menagerie of Night Terrors.

    L
    J

  • noone says:

    I must say i agree with the “thanks for being awesome”!!
    I read both and had trouble putting them down till it was done.
    On the ebook front. I don’t understand it. You miss so much, like that fetid dank smell of old paperback books; the ones that you discover at a flea market that have been sitting in someones basement for a gazillion years.
    You don’t get that with ebooks.

  • jsomers says:

    noone,

    You know, the horrible/wonderful smell of old paperbacks is an often-forgotten pleasure in life, I agree.

    Thanks for the compliment!

    L
    J

  • The Burning Itch says:

    Man, what was that blog post about?! “I don’t hate the kindle but… I got pissed on my book royalties”. WHY Jeff. WHYYYYYYYYYYY?

    Oh boy, your some kind of social reble for getting pissed. woooh, what a dangerous mind you are. No mobile phone and a bottle of whisky in the draw, what an original idea! Just you and … millions of red necks share that golden way of life.

    I just finished reading the Electric Church (or TEC is less painful) and I gotsta say, it was terrible.

    The threat of “Strong language” on the cover was never fulfilled. The incessant swearing, because it was so incessant became boring and there was no creativity or imagination with it so nether was it funny, witty, or sadly entertaining.

    Your depiction of the SSF made a sort of 2D enemy fought against by a 2D main character. The only emotion that comes across from the main character is fear at his immediate situation or a vague remorse for killing people, which is usually forgotten and then bragged about in the next paragraph. There is no real feeling about the world he lives in nor the people around him and thus by the end of the book I could not give a flying fuck what happens to him or any of the 1D friends he’d picked up on the way.

    The only thing you seemed to have mastered was a sense of dirt and filth, which you managed wonderfully. If ever I want to be reminded of what its like to be head-to-toe in shit I’ll remember your name. I can now empathise with a piece of used ass-paper. The only problem with the TEC was that you managed this in the first chapter and then the rest was sort of repetitious whipping of the rectum, which while slightly amusing is mostly painful. Deep stuff.

    I wish you the best with your next… project. Lets face it, its only up from here!

  • jsomers says:

    Mistah Itch,

    “If ever I want to be reminded of what its like to be head-to-toe in shit I’ll remember your name.”

    Well, that’s something. Cheers!

    J

  • The Burning Itch says:

    Yes it is!

    Sorry to be so negative. I have to admire someone who can create something and then face the music while smiling.

    Maybe I will read your next one…

    Anything is possible ;)

  • Telengard says:

    I orginally bought the hardcopy of TEC. I have since repurchased the electronic copy of it and Digital Plague for my Sony Ebook Reader, which in my humble opinion kicks the Kindles ass!!! I move around a bit and it is hell trying to move all my beloved books. But with my ereader, I have scores of books with me at all times. Right now there are 98 books on it!! Much easier to carry around or reference. Anyway, keep up the awesome work!!

  • Telengard says:

    One other thing is that the sony ereader requires a light and looks almost like a real page of printed paper. With the cover you forget you are not reading from a book! One must never judge until you have given it a good trial. It is funny how I meet people who will tell me that they live in the best town in the world, yet have never lived anywhere else.

  • jsomers says:

    Telengard,

    Haven’t seen a Sony, though I have also heard from others that it’s superior to the K.

    I admit I haven’t given these technologies a hands-on trial, but I’m not inclined to. I like books just fine, and part of what I like about books is their physical presence. It is, after all, possible to make good judgements from mere observation. If part of the joy you take from a thing is its actual thing-ness, it’s safe to say you will take less pleasure in a version that removes its physcial presence.

    That’s just me, of course. All the folks who dig e-readers should be happy and go with Gary. I for one will probably never own one. Nor will I join any kind of anti-e-reader gang to attack those who do, however. So that’s something.

    L
    J

  • Telengard says:

    I understand what you are saying, I was talking about the guy who said he wanted to punch someone reading one. I hated them at first, but for me they have become my savior as I like nothing more then reading and traveling. Now I can travel and bring my library with me!

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