Thursday, May 26, 2011


I just spent two days cruising the BEA in New York City. One day as a publicist, the next as an agent. From what I can see the book is still alive and well--it's just morphing as I write this.

On my bus trip home from the city I sat next to a lovely young woman who was juggling her smart phone along with a Kindle. As she settled next to me she seemed to be having difficulties with the latter. We were just leaving the Lincoln Tunnel when she turned to me and said, "Please excuse me. I am not one of those people who talk on the phone all the time, but I do have to make this call."

I thanked her for her courtesy and told her that it was no problem. But, since I was practically sitting on her lap, I overheard every word of her conversation with the Help Desk at Kindle headquarters:

Oh, I hope you can help me! I just took my Kindle out of my bag and it's stuck. The screen isn't cracked, but there are black lines running through it and I can't turn it off or on......No, I didn't drop it. I'm right in the middle of this book and now I can't read it and I'm so devastated!...What? Oh, you will? When?....Oh, I can't believe it. You'll send me a replacement? Really? But, what about all my books?....You can load them onto the new one? Oh, my!....You'll have my new one shipped right now?....Of course. I'll pack the old one up and send it back as soon as the new one comes!...Thank you so much!

The young woman turned to me and said, "That's the BEST customer service I have every had! I'm positively addicted to my Kindle and they will replace it, no questions asked!"

"My husband gave me the Kindle for Christmas--a complete surprise! I didn't know if I would like it, but I tried it and fell in love. I've read 30 books since then. I work at home and have two little kids, so you know I'm a dedicated reader. But what will I read on the way home?"

I mentioned to her that my new Droid smart phone has a Kindle app. Her phone did not, but she was able to download it right then and there, access her account, and read the rest of her book on her smart phone. The book she was so desperate to finish? A Discovery of Witches. She finished it before I got off the bus 2 hours later and had already begun another.

So what does this tell us about the state of reading? I think it's an inspiring and hopeful story. People of all ages are still reading--books, e-books, audio books--they're even reading on their smart phones.

We still need authors and publishers are still important. The trick is to make sure authors get paid well for their work and don't become victims of the e-book revolution.


Angela Carlie said...

I love this story! It's wonderful to see people passionate about reading. Today I went to the local Barnes & Noble and was amazed to find the store hopping and the line at the register long.

I enjoy my Kindle as much as a paper book--sometimes the Kindle more so when it comes to reading on the treadmill and traveling.

One question I have for you: What do you mean by authors becoming victim to the indie revolution?

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Excellent, inspiring & hopeful post! Thanks for sharing this.

mark said...

That is a great story. I bet she was happy that you showed her the droid app.

Dana Stabenow said...

Great story. Sharing to my Facebook page.

Stephsco said...

I love hearing stories from people who didn't read as much until technology made it easier for them. I have friends who used to read maybe a couple books a year who now have a long wish list on Kindle or Nook. I love being able to talk books with them now that they're interested!

I have also heard of the great Kindle customer service.

Anonymous said...

My favorite aspect of Kindle isn't the Kindle itself- I actually rather loathe the device - but it's the app that can be easily transferred across PC, Droid, Kindle, etc... so I can access my collection anywhere. I am anxious to see how publishing will play out over the next decade. We are in a time of great change, both positive and negative. :)