Kindle Unlimited: A New World of Reading

Book

Book

Today, I just want to tell you about a huge light bulb that went on in my head when I was thinking about Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited.

In case you haven’t heard, that’s a subscription offer for $ 9.99 a month. It lets you read all ebooks that are enrolled in lending, but you can only borrow ten at a time. Amazon says subscribers can choose from about 600,000 books right now. (Mostly indie author books, but that’s details.)

And this is how my thought pattern went:

Most people don’t realize that when you “buy” an ebook, you’re not actually gaining ownership of it. You only buy a license to an ebook, which allows you to put that file onto the readers of your choice (up to a fixed number, that is). That’s very different from buying a physical book. You cannot share an ebook with friends, and you cannot sell it like a used book. You do not really own it in the true sense of the word.

In essence, you’re borrowing that file for life. Or until something happens, the server goes away or your reader bites the dust. Transfers are possible, but they are definitely more difficult than moving a book from one shelf to the other. So basically, you’re borrowing that file for an endless period, for a fee. That process is clunky, if you ask me, full of possible problems and potential failure.

And let’s face it, how many books do you re-read? I’m a book nut, so I actually re-read quite a few and enjoy it. However, I would expect most people to read a book once and then be done with it, especially fans of mystery and romance, two of the biggest genres.

Then it occurred to me that Kindle Unlimited represents simply the next step in the evolution of reading.  Since we don’t *own* ebooks in the true sense of the word, offering a flatrate for the entertainment (and educational) service of reading feels like simply outsourcing the need of keeping books in our living space, or virtual space on the readers.

Outsourcing? What does that mean when talking about books?

We’ve outsorced storing money and pay for the service. Nobody hides gold coins in an old sock below a loose floorboard anymore. Instead, collectors have some, but most people do not. Our money is mostly electronic by now.

We’ve outsorced heat – we no longer tend the fires ourselves, or go and collect firewood. We flip a switch, or turn a dial, and the electricity company sends heat, or the furnace in the basement fires up, burning fuel we pay for. For me, it’s turn the thermostat, and hot water provided by a heating plant nearby makes my apartment cosy.

We’ve even outsourced food and cooking to a large degree. The number of people growing their own food and cooking from scratch is rather low. I use canned beans, and buy my bread, veggies and meat in the supermarket. I know some co-ops that supply veggies for a flat fee.

We’ve outsourced live performances to a degree. Cinamas, TVs and all that led to YouTube and Netflix. No need to be home on time or miss a favorite show. We can enjoy visual entertainment at our convenience for a flat fee.

Why not outsource our library?

Once this really catches on, once it’s no longer exclusive to KDP Select and lacking the Big 5 books, or even tied to Amazon at all, once all those starting problems are eliminated – this is something awesome. Eventually, we might even get the readers themselves included in the flatrate, just like it happens with smartphones which are included in the cell deal.

It’s a technical disruption of the reading process that’s taking it to a new level. Nobody has to give up books or their collections. We just get an entirely different way of providing that particular way of occupying our brains we call reading.

And I find it utterly fascinating. I feel as if I’m stepping into an SF world when I think through the implications of the idea behind Kindle Unlimited.

No more crumbling books.

Yes, I lament that my favorite paperbacks are starting to fall apart after 30 years. An electronic file will stay fresh, mostly. It can even be kept up to date.

No more out of print books.

There will be curators of book files, just like there are national libraries now. There will be repositories – think Project Gutenberg on an even larger scale.

My favorite books at my fingertips whenever I want a re-read.

I can see the danger of entrusting our intellectual property to computers and electronics. It could be wiped out by a world-wide catastrophy. Which would make a good SF tale. But right now, I’m just utterly fascinated by watching what could be the birth of an entirely new way of reading.

Our world got even more awesome right now.

What do you think? Is this utter nonsense? A premonition? Just starry-eyed tech-love? Or is it a big leap into a different kind of society? Write a comment!

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Flash Friday: Make a Wish

Fairy

Fairy

Fran held her breath as the butterfly came closer. It alighted on the armrest of the old bench, and Fan froze. This butterfly wore a face, and the legs were those of a tiny human, rather than an insect. Fran’s eyes grew round.

A fairy. This must be a fairy.

“You are so beautiful”, she whispered.

The fairy fluttered closer, and settled on Fran’s wrinkled fingers. It opened and closed its wings once more before smiling up at Fran.

“Will you grant me a wish?”

The fairy nodded, and Fran knew immediately what she wanted. “Make me young again”, she said. “Young as a puppy.”

The fairy giggled, rose up and touched Fran’s nose with a tiny finger. Fran sneezed, bowling the fairy over and over in the air. The stunned look of the fairy made her laugh.

Golden dust blew through the air as well, and Fran felt her whole body tingle and change. A moment later, she cowered on the ground.

She had paws as hands, covered in golden fur. A tail wiggled questioningly. Her chocked scream came out as a weak yelp. Oh, she was young again, indeed.

But she was also now a real puppy.

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Flash Friday: Child’s Play

“Come on!”

“You can do it!

I hated their cat calls. This was the first time they had allowed me to light the barbecue. I concentrated, any mistake would be dreadful.

“Go for it!”

“Nothing to it, Jenny!”

“Just do it!”

I concentrated fiercely. The barbecue grill stood seven feet away, the coals ready, piled on top of some crushed paper. Lighting it should have been child’s play.

It wasn’t.

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and mentally went through the instructions once again. This time, I would do it. I breathed out. “Now.”

WOOOOOSH! BOOOOOOM!

My eyes flew open just in time to see a huge fireball reduce the barbecue grill to a twisted heap of charred metal.

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Some Dragon Eye Candy

The cover is gorgeous, but there is even more beauty inside the book – yes, even the ebook. That’s why I work with Blue Harvest Creative, the formatting company I found last year. I think they make the prettiest ebooks I’ve ever seen. They look just like print versions.

Anyway, this is how the first page of every story looks – with a different title, of course, but with the same awesome picture on the page. Yes, even in the ebook.

Story title

Story Title

 

And when there are breaks in a story, there are also little pictures to indicate those. BHC chooses different pictures to fit each book. “Sequoia” has bear prints, “Pu-ukani’s Song” has a wavy, watery image and “Here Be Dragons” has this:

Divider

Divider

And if you look closely, you can see the same divider image just below the title on the cover itself.  I’ll repeat that here because it is so glorious. It looks totally stunning on the print book, especially in matte. So glad CreateSpace now offers that option.

Cover

Here Be Dragons Cover

And other than usual, you can click on these pictures to enlarge them – just to really enjoy that eye candy.

Big shoutout to Blue Harvest Creative for making my book so beautiful.

PS: Want to buy “Here Be Dragons”? Here you go:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.de

If you prefer to order from your local bookstore, you can! Just use this
ISBN: 978-1500188023, and they will find it for you.

Want to say something? Feel free to comment.

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“Here be Dragons” – Release Day

Cover

Here Be Dragons Cover

Today is the day!

I’m officially releasing my brand new short story collection. It contains my eight all-time best short stories. In fact, two of them have been published before, in online magazines. Another one has been published in its German incarnation – and I’m offering it in English for the first time here. (I do my own translations.)

And here’s what to expect:

Eight stories of classic fantasy. Eight adventures full of cunning and magic. Eight lovable heroes. Old and grumpy, young and eager, wary or daring, they come in all shapes – some are not even human. Eight worlds that will send your imagination soaring on fancy wings. Eight tales that will warm your heart. Eight stories that will leave a smile on your face.

What are you waiting for?

“Here be Dragons” is available both as ebook and as print edition, through Amazon. For your convenience, I’m adding links to the different Amazon stores – hope your country is among them. If not, go to the page anyway, and then exchange the amazon extension to the one your store uses.

“Here be Dragons” – ebook

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.de

“Here be Dragons” – Print

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.de

If you prefer to order from your local bookstore, you can! Just use this
ISBN: 978-1500188023, and they will find it for you.

Let me know in a comment what you think of the book!

And please consider writing a review when you have read the book. It helps others to find the stories, and enjoy them, too. Thanks!

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“Here be Dragons” Cover Reveal

I’m very happy, and very pleased to be able to show you all the cover of my new book

Here be Dragons

Cover

Here Be Dragons Cover

Cudos to Blue Harvest Creative who do all the formatting and graphic work for my books. They have created another miracle.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

PS: Official release date is June 26th 2014.

 

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The Writer’s Process Blog Tour

Writing

Writing

This is the equivalent of an old-fashioned chain letter – but in a really good way. You see, we writers get to show you some behind the scenes stuff that happens when we write. And you get to find out about more authors who may be unknown to you. Amazing authors. Funny authors. Young authors and old authors.

I was graciously invited by , one of the amazing authors. Her books are intense thrillers with a spiritual touch. You can find her blog over here: Ramblings of a Mad Southern Woman.

We all answer the same four questions. And then we’re supposed to show you three more authors – sadly, I could only connect to one. But one is better than none, right? So read all the way through, and find a great author who created a wonderful and magical world for her tales.

Oh, and feel free to link to this post and others in The Writer’s Process Blog Tour. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and where else you meet your friends. Thanks!

Anyway, here’s my behind the scenes stuff:

1) What am I working on? Weiterlesen

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The Bad Guys

Bad Guy

Bad Guy

Everyone knows the Bad Guys. They wear a black hat or helmet. Or gory make-up. Or masks. Or they are ugly. And of course, they are mad, or sadistic, or aliens, or ruthless killers or all of the above. It’s easy, isn’t it?

Actually, it’s not.

Because those bad guys drive your story, at least for a while. They are the ones pushing the hero, setting things in motion and finally, forcing the hero to transform. They are important. They matter.

Makes sense? Not really? Okay, let’s look at some of them. (And cut me some slack. I’m not that much of movie gal, so if you have better examples, please share them in the comments.) Weiterlesen

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A New Dragon Tale – Some Rambles

Dragon

Dragon

Quietly, I’ve been working on a short story to usher in a full novel featuring dragons.

I’ve been partial to dragons for a long time, admittedly. It all started when I was an exchange student in California, in the senior year of Senior High. (Rowland High School in Rowland Heights, for those who are interested. And no, my fellow students didn’t know me as Hannah Steenbock.) The school library drew me magically, since my afternoons and evenings in a family with children clearly younger than me were not very eventful. And there, I found the Pern novels. I was an instant fan. In fact, I spent quite a bunch of my time translating “Dragonflight” into German. Nothing ever came out of that, however.

Anyway, I started a dragon novel about a year ago when an Idea hit me. Girl meets dragon, then some other characters appeared and started to weave into three story lines. And stalled. Weiterlesen

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The Future Book Store

Bookstores are doomed, they say. They are disappearing at an alarming rate, they say. All over the world, big book seller chains are in trouble.

They blame Amazon.

And it’s true that a lot of book buying has shifted online. Ebooks are only part of that phenomenon, even physical books are bought online more and more.

It makes sense to me. It’s so much easier to find books online, to find recommendations – and last but not least, ebooks take almost no time for delivery. It’s also a rather comfortable way of getting new reading fodder.

In fact, I have to admit that I have stayed away from big bookstores in the last years or so. I have walked through some small ones and left without buying. These days, I feel overwhelmed by looking at thousands of books that don’t interest me while those fields that do interest me are not stocked. So I go online.

And yet, for some reason, I kept thinking about a weird question:

What would a bookstore have to look like so I would enjoy going there? Weiterlesen

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