Here’s what Amazon calls “Shirley’s 2nd Kindle.” They gave me this one because I called their customer service department when my first one, an earlier model, died. Pretty impressive, eh?

How many other companies offer you a newer model of a product valued at $149 for free without kicking and screaming?

A more cynical person would focus on why Amazon might want me to have a working Kindle. Without it, I can’t mainline the various forms of “content” sold by them. Their altruism may be prompted by the same kind of practice in the printer industry. HP, for example, will price printers inexpensively so that customers will continue buying expensive ink cartridges. The hardware is a conduit for the real profit center. We know this.

But still, I’m grateful.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I haven’t picked sides in the war for and against Amazon among writers. Have you?

The Kindle Part 1

I first wrote about the Kindle soon after I bought my first one in 2009.

The Kindle Part 2

I revisited the question in 2011 when I asked readers how much difference it makes to listen to an audio book v. reading a paper copy v. reading on a Kindle. I found that more people had purchased eReaders but that none of them were using them exclusively.

I’ve observed some changes in the way I’m using my Kindle now.

The Kindle Part 3

I traveled a lot this summer and took my Kindle with me. I read several books that way, but I still prefer to underline and dogear the traditional book. That’s an issue others shared with me in 2011.

However, one thing I’ve noticed since then. Price can influence me, and sometimes I will download an ebook when it is on sale, which often happens, or when it is offered gratis.

I’ve downloaded some ebooks for free when asked to do so, often by indie authors who are trying to boost numbers of downloads. Confession: I have a number of these I haven’t opened. I probably will stop accepting gifts unless I have a genuine interest in the subject matter or truly know the author. An electronic “shelf” filled with books I don’t really care about is no more attractive than a “real” bookshelf overflowing with books that I need to give to the thrift store.

Indie Authors. Are you reading them?

Which brings me to the real explosion in ebooks. The self-published book. We all know that a number of bestsellers have arisen among this group of newly enfranchised writers. I have read a number of books in this category and enjoyed them. Others, like the free ones above, not so much.

Most recently I found a memoir by Carol Bodensteiner called Growing Up Country, published by Rising Sun Press, which she owns. It’s a collection of beautifully written descriptions of farm life from another “dairy maid” living in Iowa at almost exactly the same time I was living in Pennsylvania. If you enjoyed Little Heathens as much as I did, you’ll love this book also.

Why did I buy it? I found a tweet from Carol, who follows me on Twitter. I opened the link, saw that I could download the ebook version for $3.99 and have it on my Kindle in 30 seconds. If I were an Amazon Prime member, which I am not, it would have been free. We country girls love bargains, and that looked like one to me. Well worth the risk of $3.99 on an author I only knew as a Twitter “friend.”

Amazon “Sales”

If you want to read an inspiring story, read this blog post by Ira Wagler, author of Growing Up Amish, which hit bestseller lists at Amazon, The Wall Street Journal, and even The New York Times. He credits Amazon’s inclusion of his book in a sales offer. His publisher, Tyndale, apparently was as surprised as he was by the response.

 “High-Priced” Kindle Books

I am currently reading My Call to the Ring: A Memoir of a Girl Who Yearns to Box by Deirdre Gogarty with Darrelyn Saloom.

So what’s a pacifist with no interest in boxing doing with a book on boxing? And paying more for it than any previous ebook?

Well, the story is long. But I have come to love the stories of the co-author Darrelyn Saloom who lives on a small farm in Louisianna and writes about her life there in a delightful blog you will want to add to your reader. Something about her joie de vivre infects me.  She reached out to me with a comment after I published a story about my mother in Jane Friedman’s series called “When Mom was My Age.”

I started reading about Darrelyn’s chickens and horses and feeling my throat constrict as she took me on short journeys into her life. I enjoy her understated style and lovely photos of sunsets and fields. I felt kinship with even the smallest online offering she made, and so I became a fan of her projects. As I learned more about Deirdre Gogarty through Darrelyn, I wanted to read about this woman boxer from Ireland. It was an easy call to download a copy. Now I will have it as my bedtime reading treat.

I also bought the book before publication. As I understand it, doing so helps authors even more than if you wait until after the official publication date.

Okay. Your turn now. Are you still holding out on buying an eReader? (and is that the way to spell it??) Have your electronic reading habits changed? Are you buying indie publications? Does price matter to you? An inquiring reader and writer wants to know.









Shirley Showalter


  1. Tina Barbour on August 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm


    I have a Nook. After vowing not to get an e-reader (not sure of the correct spelling, by the way), I gave in and asked for one for my birthday last year. I love it! I love that I can find out about a good book and the next minute, be reading it–quite literally! And I love how I can take multiple books with me in one slim volume–I tend to read at least 2 or 3 books at a time.

    I still read “real” books, though, and still love them. I can highlight and bookmark on my Nook, but it’s just easier for me to find a note or highlight in a real book, where I can thumb through pages.

    Price does make a difference. I can usually buy a book cheaper on my e-reader, especially hardbacks.

    I am reading some indie authors. I do like to have some interest in the subject before buying. But I also want to be supportive, so it’s a balancing act.

  2. shirleyhs on August 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Thanks, Tina. I don’t have much experience with a Nook, but as I recall it has color, whereas the Kindle version I have is only black and white.

    Here’s one aspect of e-readers I didn’t cover: the obstacle they present to voyeurism:,0,3811446,print.column

    Thought you might enjoy. My friend Richard posted on FB.

  3. Darrelyn Saloom on August 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Shirley, thank you so much for purchasing and now reading My Call to the Ring: A Memoir of A Girl Who Yearns to Box. It is so much more than a book about boxing. So I think you are going to be blown away by Deirdre’s journey from the Irish Sea to the Gulf of Mexico.

    Speaking of the Gulf, Hurricane Isaac is headed our way and our farm is only 35 miles north of the Louisiana Gulf coast. I never realized how many wheelbarrows and buckets we have until I had to start picking them all up.

    Much love,

    • shirleyhs on August 27, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Hi, Darrelyn, I wish I could come help you toss those buckets around and button up everything in advance of the storm. I’ve been thinking of you all day, and you are in my prayers.

      And the book sounds even more exciting as you describe it. Maybe after the storm and book launch are history we can entice you back here to tell us what you have learned from what sounds like an amazing collaboration.

      Sending you an electronic safety net. I’m sure all the readers here send their love also.

  4. Laurie Gray on August 27, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing your eReader experiences, Shirley, and initiating this conversation. I jumped on the eReader bandwagon early and chose a Kindle over a Nook because at that time, you could easily transfer your own documents (word docs, pdfs, and powerpoints) onto a Kindle, but not on a Nook. But my Kindle quickly fell into disuse about a year ago when I picked up an iPad which as both the Kindle and Nook apps as well as iBooks, and easy access to classic books for free. I also have the OverDrive app which makes it easy to borrow eBooks from my local library. The lighting on the Kindle makes it a bit easier on the eyes, so maybe if I updated to a Kindle Fire that would give me internet and email access as well, I’d go back to a Kindle.

    I quickly realized the privacy benefits of eReaders when I was asked to review an Indie Book entitled “God Hates Fags,” a most unfortunate title for a book that actually stands for the opposite proposition. I only agreed to review it because I do so electronically. If they’d sent me a hard copy, I probably would have covered it with duct tape or something.

    One downfall for authors of eBooks is the traditional booksigning. As of yet, no one has asked me to autograph an eReader. What I”ve seen other authors do, though is to bring bookmarks and cards that they can sign for those who purchase th eBooks. Or I talked to one author who had an electronically autographed title page that fans could download onto their eReaders so they’d have a “signed” copy.

    With regard to self-published books, I’ve read many, and you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover anymore. Some look great–very professional–on the outside, but the writing can range from unpolished to excruciating. But every once in awhile I’ll find a gem!

    • shirleyhs on August 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      This is a wonderful addition to our collective knowledge, Laurie. Creative way to “sign” an ebook. I’ll want to remember that good idea.

      I hope you saw the story above from the Chicago Tribune about wanting to see the covers. In your case, the duct tape. That was a funny story.

      Do you like borrowing books from the library electronically? Any advice or problems. That’s another thing I haven’t done yet.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Laurie Gray on August 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      @Shirley: I LOVE borrowing eBooks from my local library. I can borrow books even when I’m out of town, and they automatically return themselves after 3 weeks, so there’s never any risk of having an overdue eBook. That’s how I read Cheryl Strayer’s memoir “Wild.” I put a hold on it, the library notified me via email when it became available and I had 48 hours to “check i out.”

  5. Richard Gilbert on August 28, 2012 at 8:22 am

    What a generous, rich post. I have not been using my Kindle much, not since last winter when I read as I exercised. Maybe that will happen again. On my long trip this summer to the British Isles, I lugged four or six books—can’t remember now but I got four read. That was dumb but I got worried about charging, even though I probably could have gone the whole time without charging . . .

    As an Amazon Prime member, I get free shipping. (I guess that makes me pro Amazon!?) So often the physical book is cheaper, the same price, or pennies more, and I end up with a physical book I can sell used. Not that I do! Still, it galls me a little to pay about the same for an e-book that I cannot share or resell.

    Still, e-reading more is in my future and may become my main reading. I get into the book just as much. The only thing I hate is that, like you, I want to dogear pages. Especially at section breaks; I like to see them coming and going and think about them. I really miss that with e-books.

  6. shirleyhs on August 28, 2012 at 8:37 am

    So you use your Kindle while on a treadmill? Do you listen to it? Enlarge the type? Are you jogging? I’ve never tried this.

    If you want to see a really revolutionary idea, here’s a blog with an embedded TED talk that will get you thinking even harder about the future of the book!

    • Richard Gilbert on August 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      On the treadmill or bike. Works great, better than a physical book!

  7. Brad Lehman on August 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I have a Nook tablet, the 16GB (top one, which is replacing the Nook Color). It’s terrific. I picked it over the Kindle, in large part because it allows the insertion of a standard SanDisk card that increases the memory by another 32GB, beyond the internal memory; also because my sister wasn’t happy with her Kindle from about 18 months ago. She said that the Kindle died after a series of software updates by Amazon.

    Someone mentioned not being able to load other PDF files or Office documents onto a Nook, and maybe that’s true of the lower models, but the Nook tablet handles them just fine. That’s one of the biggest things I do with mine. I have DropBox set up on my computers and my Nook, and whenever I have a document I need to see on the Nook, I throw it into that folder. It auto-syncs to all devices. Or, I can cable the Nook into the computer, and load up folders of other documents. I have all kinds of ebooks from Bartleby and other web sites saved into my Nook that way. Those can go either onto the internal memory area or the SanDisk card.

    I also got DejaOffice (for Nook or any other Android-based tablet/phone), and it syncs up my Outlook calendar and task lists…so my Nook can tell me my appointments for the day, with pop-up alarms.

    The only thing that’s irking me about the Nook, at the moment, is that its operating system does not yet allow copy/paste from one application into another. That is, I can’t capture the URL or a bit of text from some article, and throw it into a file or Facebook…as I’m treating the device too much like a full computer instead of a mere reader. But, someone is allegedly working on that copy/paste problem, and I can live with it.

    The Nook allocates most of its storage space to stuff you buy from Barnes and Noble (although they’re willing to re-partition it if you bring it into the store); that doesn’t matter, if you’ve taken the recommended step of adding a memory card. I filled up big chunks of the memory card with music, so I can listen to things on headphones while reading…or can stream Pandora or GrooveShark when in wi-fi range.

    • shirleyhs on August 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      Wow, Brad. You are way beyond me in techie heaven, as always. Thanks so much for sharing what you are doing here. It sounds like the best thing since sliced bread.

      I am eager to see what will happen to my devices when I give up this Toshiba laptop and learn how to use the MacBook Pro (with large screen and wireless keyboard for desktop conversion). Being tied more to Apple might take me away from Kindle. We’ll see. And I really should learn to use the document/reader option also. So much to learn. So little time.

      You are my Hero Geek. That’s a little like a Greek Hero. 🙂

  8. Brad Lehman on August 28, 2012 at 10:51 am

    One other thing that swung me toward Nook: I know that if it breaks I can drive for ten minutes to the local place that will fix it for me, instead of having to mail the device somewhere and wait for weeks.

    • shirleyhs on August 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Actually, that was another amazing thing about what Amazon did. If I recall correctly, they sent me a brand new one within two business days and gave complete instructions on how to mail my old one back to them.

      But I see the advantage of connecting to local stores as a principle.

  9. Rosanna on August 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Still haven’t made the leap, though I bought an ipad, which I believe has features that could be used this way. My shortage has been time rather than books, and despite career changes I don’t anticipate that changing. Actually, since I left my job I’m reading considerably less because I used to have a predictable hour to read on the metro each day. That time — and, well, the money — are the things I miss most about leaving the 9-5 life.

    • shirleyhs on August 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      Ah, those commutes. The URL I mentioned from the Chicago Tribune above talks about them also. I enjoyed a year of Metro riding from Dunn Loring station to Dupont Circle and back again. Got lots of reading done.

      Yes, the iPad has lots of eReader options. I hope to learn about them when my MacBook Pro arrives.

      Sounds like you’re a little wistful for the 9-5? May this time of transition turn up the best career choice yet. Who knows, maybe the iPad will play a role??

    • shirleyhs on August 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Ah those long commutes. I miss them too now that my commute is 30 seconds long. Back in the ’80’s we spent a year going between Dunn Loring and Dupont Circle. That’s when I learned to love the space to dream, think, and read.

      Hope you are finding a new career path, Rosanna. I’m in your corner always.

  10. Melanie Springer Mock on August 28, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Great post, Shirley. I appreciate hearing your perspective–and that of others–on the e-reader. I consider myself a traditionalist when it comes to reading, but requested (and got!) a Kindle Fire for Christmas. In part, I felt like our house was being overwhelmed by books; in part, I felt like I needed to keep up with my students’ technology.

    I love my Kindle for the ease of use, especially when traveling. I love that I can read in the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep and my husband can. I love its portability, and the cheap books, too, when I can get a good deal (always a Mennonite at heart!). I’ve downloaded several cheap books, like for 25 cents, when Amazon had , including Moneyball and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I probably won’t ever read Moneyball, but couldn’t pass up the deal; I already have a physical copy of Foer’s book, but the deal was too good.

    What I don’t like: I spend way too much time choosing my next book to download, reading reviews, going to Goodreads, looking at what Amazon has to say about the book. I overthink my purchase more than I would at a book store, and let others’ opinions influence my decision.

    Also, because Kindle Fire has wi-fi, I can check email and Facebook whenever I want, fueling several other addictions and making it harder for me to sustain attention to a book in ways I might with a physical text. But that’s my problem, and I think I need to figure out a way to not be so e-addicted.

    • shirleyhs on August 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      Yes, the overflowing bookcases are part of the issue, although I gave away thousands of books in my last move . . .

      And I too am of the “let’s at least experience a little of what the kids are doing” school. My own children have been enormously helpful in my technology journey, limited though it is by my analog mind.

      Thanks for the comment and have a great new school year.

  11. Regina on August 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Love this post. I am still using my Kindle (I upgraded to a touch). I also have an iPad, which I quite like and use primarily for web browsing, school stuff, and social networking.

    I have found that I do most of my “for fun” reading on the Kindle. I also like being able to upload my own documents so I use it for public speaking. I have used it to preach, officiate at a wedding and preside over communion. I have a black leather cover for it so to those in the audience it looks like a “real” book. I have thought about using the iPad in the same way (for speaking) but because it is bigger, and because it lights up one’s face with that blue glow, I shy away from it because I think that would be distracting.

    • shirleyhs on August 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      You had me chuckling with that image of the blue glow on the preacher’s face, Regina.

      And a black cover on a Kindle. How clever! I’ll be inspecting my minister’s face and hands to see if there are any teltlale electronic signs.

      I would never have imagined these uses. Now that you tell me this story, I’ll have to remember that one of the features I like best on the Kindle is making the type larger. Might overcome my problem of trying to find the sweet spot for my trifocals at the podium.

      Thanks for the story. And for the visit.

  12. Brad Lehman on August 28, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    This morning I figured out how to take advantage of the public library’s new collection of ebooks. There are several steps. You can check them out directly from the web browser in your device, but to actually get the book you have to use a real computer:
    – Log in with your library card number and PIN.
    – Download and install some new Adobe software on the computer.
    – Get an Adobe ID tied to your e-mail address, if you don’t already have one.
    – Give permission for Adobe to sync with this computer.
    – Download the checked-out books from the library account to the computer.
    – Click on each one to get the Adobe licensing thing to sync them up and convert them to ePub format.
    – Connect the Nook/Kindle to the computer with the cable.
    – Give the Adobe thing permission to sync up with that device.
    – Inside the Adobe thing, drag/drop the books onto the device.

    Having done that, it’s supposed to be easier next time….

    The library has only 40 non-fiction titles, so far, but it’s a start.

    I wanted to get Susan Cain’s “Quiet” so I could compare it with the hardback book. I’d been trying for months to get it from the library, but the hold list was always long, and eventually I just went ahead and bought it. The library’s ebook version is also on hold, though, behind some other patrons; evidently they don’t let multiple people “check out” the same ebook simultaneously, which seems a bit odd to me.

    So, instead, I “checked out” that Joshua Foer _Moonwalking With Einstein_ (about memorizing things) that you’d recommended to me about a year ago.

  13. Brad Lehman on August 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    In the 1997 episode of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” that I watched last night, Major Kira gave her speech by standing before her audience and reading it from her eReader (after another character had tweaked the speech for her, at her request). Apparently, this is standard procedure in the future.

    Smartphones and eReaders are just the present trying to keep up with old Star Trek.

    • shirleyhs on August 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      Ha! Back to the Future Part 4. Love it.

  14. Kathleen on August 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I have appreciated the other reader’s comments on your careful overview of the Kindle. Here is what is common: I read on the treadmill, appreciate carrying an entire shelf of books-newspapers-journal articles with me onto airplanes, have had great service from Amazon, use Overdrive to borrow library books, etc. Many of the books in my Amazon library have been loaned to clients, students, and friends, which can be done through the “Manage my Kindle” page. I originally chose the Kindle over two years ago for its better selection of technical books.

    I have developed a system of annotations that I use to find items I wish to blog about, activities for the work I do with organizations, etc. I find it easier to search my eBooks than my paper ones. This is especially true as publishers trend away from the expense of creating a thorough index. Jon (husband) and I can collaborate by reading the same book and sharing highlights and annotations. This improves our client development process as we prepare more effectively.

    For the past two months, I have had both an iPad and a Kindle. I continue to use both as the backlighting on the iPad can wear on my eyes after a long day. The other reason for using both: the Kindle battery will last two to three weeks on a charge with the iPad often lasting less than three days.

    Thank you, as always, for opening and holding a space for useful conversation.

    • shirleyhs on August 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      You are really putting that Kindle to good use, Kathleen. One of my ulterior motives in doing this kind of post is discovering new uses and learning from my friends. This is a great summary of some of the many skills I hope to learn before it’s time to do The Kindle, Part 4.

      Thanks as always for your many contributions to this wonderful reading/writing/serving/leading community.

    • Kathleen on August 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      P.S. I should have said that the Kindle and iPad synchronize so that I can always pick up where I left off – even when moving between the two devices.

  15. Marilyn LeFeber on August 29, 2012 at 6:05 am

    I have both a Kindle and an iPad, but I find I like reading Kindle reader content on my iPad better. I picked up an Amazon Prime membership for the free book once a month and the free shipping. Unfortunately, I have generally found the free books in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library not to be of much interest. I find I am buying more books than I used to–I am a great library user–but our local public library doesn’t have alot of resources and its difficult to get the books I like there. And the fact that I live 20 to 30 miles from a serious shopping area means that I save alot of gas. I had total hip replacement surgery this summer and having those ebooks and audio books really contributed to the quallity of my down time while I was going through inpatient rehab and recovery. I may just give my Kindle to a friend because I am not using it as much as I expected.

  16. shirleyhs on August 29, 2012 at 8:43 am


    So glad you shared this story and also glad you are on the other side of hip replacement rehab. Technology can play a role in bringing the world to us when we can’t go out into it.

    Saving time and gas is another reason that ebooks win over even free library books. Even when I am only a 5-10 minute ride away,

    Interesting that you are considering giving your Kindle to a friend. Having fewer devices is better when you can get all that you want from one.

    Enjoy fall in the mountains. Hope you can get around well with a brand new hip!

  17. Erma Martin Yost on August 29, 2012 at 8:58 am

    A long time hold out for “real” books, I am now an avid iPad user for just about everything. It almost replaces my PowerBook. I never owned a Kindle, but I used some and I prefer the size/format of the iPad. I got one with the maximum memory so that it can be used as my portable artist’s portfolio. And it’s like using a large format camera.
    But your real question is about eReaders. I haven’t bought a hard copy book since I own the iPad because I am simply out of book shelves. It was so hard to get rid of books when we moved. Now they are with me all the time. The only down side I have is that it’s harder for me to find the things I highlighted.

  18. shirleyhs on August 29, 2012 at 9:29 am


    How great to hear from an artist on the benefits of iPad. When I traveled this summer, I saw people taking pictures of Stonehenge with their iPads. Somewhere some spirit of the place stirred, I’m sure.

    Your comment about the Powerbook v. iPad interested me. I’m hoping that the MacBook Pro will give me most of the features of the iPad and that iPhone and Kindle will work for my needs for a while.

    As for highlighting, I’ll bet there is a geek answer to that, if not now, then coming down the pike. But you aren’t talking to a geek. 🙂

  19. Carol Bodensteiner on August 30, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Hi, Shirley, Thanks so much for reading my memoir GROWING UP COUNTRY and mentioning it in this post. It’s always fun to connect with another farm girl!

    I resisted the e-reader (correct spelling according to the AP style manual) for a long time but when I started traveling a lot and my husband gave me a Kindle for Christmas, I became an instant fan. 3,000 books in 9 ounces is hard to beat. I do still buy hard copy books. Sometimes even those I’ve already in e-format. There is just something about being able to go to the shelf, flip open the book, mark the pages, treasure the work the author and publisher put into the design that is not duplicated in e-books.

    The influx and easy availability of books via e-readers has changed my reading style. I used to commit to reading through every book I started. Now I don’t. If the writing is poor I’ll know it in a few pages. Even a good story will not keep me reading.

    Thanks again!

  20. shirleyhs on August 30, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Thanks, Carol, for joining the conversation here. I hope you find some new readers through this post. They can count on you for good writing and vivid description of farm life.

    One of things I admired most about your book was how you portrayed the wisdom of your parents. They were as wily as Tom Sawyer with his paint brush at the fence. They turned chores into pleasures. Beautifully done — by them and by you.

    As for e-readers (thanks for the editorial help), you certainly have a powerhouse Kindle with 3,000 books on it.

    Thanks for this helpful comment, and I hope your book is a bestseller — in every medium.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on August 31, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      I give my folks lots of credit for my attitude about work today. I get great satisfaction from a day of work. The work is the reward. Until a certain age, I believe kids want to be with their parents, and since our parents always included us and let us do what they were doing, we felt important by association. There was a tone of wisdom and good parenting in that!

      I don’t have 3,000 books on my e-reader, but it could hold that many (so I’m told). Even a half dozen books will take up all my spare suitcase space and strain my back.

      Thanks again.

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