After holding out for as long as I possibly could—after waxing lyrical about the wonder that is a printed book, sharing my rules for handling printed books (that, sometimes, extend as far as not reading them…!) and traveling on a low-cost airline with no fewer than 25 books hidden in my luggage—I’m buying a Kindle this week. If you’re new to this blog, this will be my first e-reading device and the books I read on it will be among the first e-books I’ve bought and/or read from start to finish.
And yes, I’ve been self-publishing and selling e-books since March 2010.
It’s not because I’ve suddenly taken a turn against the printed book—that will NEVER happen—and I don’t see this as changing anything except me traveling a lot lighter and me not having to buy those awful small, thick paperbacks that after reading turn into a creased-spine mess I can hardly bear to look at. And to be honest, I could easily manage with the traveling and creased-spine thing for another while.
No, I’m buying a Kindle now for a very specific reason, and that’s a man. A man named Michael Connelly.
Michael Connelly is my favorite writer, favorite being the writer who has given me the most reading pleasure to date and continues to do so. If the house was on fire and all other humans were safely out, the one thing I’d grab is my limited edition, leather bound copy of Nine Dragons, which Connelly personally inscribed to me after I won a competition on his website. His detective, Harry Bosch, is like an old friend I only get to catch up with once a year and, just like Julia Keller in The Chicago Tribune, I live in a world where Bosch is a real person. On the wall behind my desk hangs a framed print of The Garden of Earthy Delights by Hieronymus Bosch from the Prado in Madrid; that Bosch is Harry’s namesake (although he prefers Harry to Hieronymus) and the work itself plays a part in one of my favorite Connelly books, A Darkness More Than Night. It also serves as a reminder to me that writers can, sometimes, make their fictional creations seem real.
Catching up with Harry is a big occasion: I buy the book on the day it comes out, clear my schedule and then read it all in one sitting, and I have done that since A Darkness More Than Night in 2001. The way I remember it, I found the hardback of Void Moon in a discount book bin on a lazy Saturday afternoon sometime during my seventeenth year and soon after saw a television ad for Angels Flight, which I then bought in paperback. Then I quickly went back and caught up with the five previous Bosch novels, and have been reading everything Connelly’s written on or soon after its day of publication ever since, including The Black Box which I devoured yesterday.
Well, not exactly everything’s Connelly’s written, and that’s where we come to the Kindle.
More than any other mega-selling traditionally published author that I’ve seen around, Connelly knows how to work the e-book only angle. On the Kindle store, he currently has four titles you can only buy in e-book: Angle of Investigation: Three Harry Bosch Stories ($2.99), a Kindle single called The Safe Man ($1.99), Mulholland Dive: Three Stories ($1.99) and Suicide Run: Three Harry Bosch Stories ($2.99). He also released the opening chapters of his last two novels, The Drop and The Black Box, as free Kindle e-books before publication. And he (or his publisher) regularly drops the price of an early Bosch novel down to $1.99 or $2.99, enticing new readers all the time.
Beginning back in September 2006, a Bosch story called The Overlook was serialized in sixteen installments in the New York Times magazine. In May 2007 it was published in a slim hardback as a full-length novel. Even though it wasn’t really—”editing” in this case really meant “padding”. But at the time that was the only feasible way to get that serialized story into the hands of all of Connelly’s readers. Now he can release it in its original form as a low-cost e-book.
So I’m buying a Kindle because I want to read everything my favorite author has written. And because if I get time in the New Year, I want to go back and re-read all the Bosch novels for the first time, in order, and all my books are in storage and I can’t stand that horrid little paperback versions that I have of his early titles.
Just for kicks though—and loyalty card points—I’m going to buy my Kindle from Waterstones.