dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

I’m all over the ball park with today’s post. If I was marking a student paper, I would say this selection is “unfocused.” But — hey, we all have unfocused days, right?

First of all, I’d like to invite you to pop over to Sara Crowe’s blog, The Crowe’s Nest, to read my guest post there on adapting my novel We Hear the Dead to a screenplay. Thanks, Sara, for inviting me to contribute, and thanks to all my blogging friends who’ve already read it, commented on it, and tweeted it!
Secondly, my Kindle broke! 🙁 That is, the 3G modem on my Kindle ceased functioning. However, all is not lost. I worked with a Kindle support person on the telephone for a few minutes, and after he had established (via having me enter super secret commands) that the 3G capability was, in fact, dead, he ordered up a replacement. I had it the very next day! I have to say that Customer Service is one thing the Kindle crew at Amazon has down pat, and I cannot praise them enough!
Finally, I wanted to share a video posted by the Dorian’s Parlor crew of my first on-stage reading last November. (Thanks, Kyle Cassidy, for finding it!) I am simultaneously excited and mortified to see it. I covered my eyes and peeked through cracks in my fingers to watch it. Reading in front of an audience who is mostly more interested in their snacks and drinks was a bit of an experience, and I was so blinded by the stage lights I couldn’t even see my audience. That was disconcerting!
It’s a little long, so if you watch it, you might want to skip the middle. I answer some questions at the end — one of them asked by “my ringer” in the audience: daughter #2 Gina, who asks, “What inspired you to write this?” It was her idea to rescue me with a question. Nobody prompted her — and I have to hand it to my 10 year old daughter who had no fear standing up in front of a rowdy crowd dressed in outrageous steampunk attire and taking the microphone!

Technically, they’re not supposed to be there.

Of course, neither are cell phones, and we all know half the students have cell phones in their pockets or their backpacks. I insist my daughters bring their phones to school, in fact, just so we can coordinate after school play practice, who is picking up which children, etc.

So nobody ought to be surprised that ebook readers are coming to school, too. A recent New York Times article reports a sharp rise in the number of young ebook owners. Thanks, Al Past, for sending me the link!

It was not so long ago that people were predicting publishers would not bother to produce children’s and teen’s titles in ebook format, because it was assumed children would not own ebook readers. I even recall seeing a comment on a First Five submission at YALitchat which suggested the author should remove mention of the teen MC reading on a Kindle. “Teens don’t have Kindles.” Oh, yes they do – and so do elementary school students.

So far, my own children don’t own one of their own, but they both have scooped up my Kindle when I’m not using it. I ordered a book specifically for Gina, at her request, and Gabbey has been reading Sherlock Holmes stories, which I downloaded for 99 cents because I’m teaching them in class and it was easier than lugging books around. The New York Times article mentions that as well – that kids are reading more classics because they are free or priced very cheaply.

It’s a revolution, of sorts. And a good one, I think.

How about you? Seen any Nooks and Kindles in young hands recently? Would you buy one for your own kids? What role could they/should they have in school?

A few months back, I blogged about how I was thinking of getting an ebook reader, but I wasn’t sure I’d find it useful – especially considering how many manuscripts I beta-read these days. Although the idea of having books instantly at my fingertips was appealing, I wasn’t sure I’d use the Kindle much after the novelty wore off.

Well, I got a Kindle for Christmas (thanks, Bob!) and while it’s too early to claim the novelty won’t wear off, I am completely in love with it so far!

Do I miss the feel of a book in my hands? Not really. In fact, I like to take the cover off the Kindle when I read, to keep it as light as possible. I can’t rave enough about the screen, which doesn’t in any way resemble a computer screen.

Uploading manuscripts is easy enough, although depending on how the author formatted the document, paragraph indentations might be off and sometimes italics don’t show up properly. However, the Kindle is so pleasurable to read, I’d still rather use it than the computer. I can make brief notes on the Kindle – which I then have to transfer to the computer, so I can send a marked up document back to the other writer. It’s an extra step – but again, I don’t mind it because the actual reading is so much easier on my eyes.

What do I have on my Kindle so far?

Nine books: Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld, Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien, A Spy in the House and The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee, Huck Finn by Mark Twain, Soulless by Gail Carriger, a Warriors book by Erin Hunter I bought for Gina to read and … ahem … We Hear the Dead. (Well, I had to buy my own, right?)

Five manuscripts: Two of my own, The Caged Graves and Strange Truths (new working title of A Pinpoint of Truth), plus Marcy Hatch’s Grimoire, Lori Walker’s Love Potion, and S. Kyle Davis’s Blackbird.

I brought my Kindle in to school to show my class, but they were less impressed than I thought. Turns out, they’re no strangers to e-readers. I took a quick survey and was surprised to find out that in a class of 24 students:

3 kids had their own ebook reader
7 kids had an ebook reader in the house, even if it wasn’t theirs
3 kids said there was more than one ebook reader in their house
5 kids had Kindle apps on other devices, such as iPads or iPods or phones

I’m kind of thinking ebooks are the future of reading.

… That is the question.

I want one, of course. Books downloaded instantly … an entire library to carry with me on vacation … I even thought the Kindle would be perfect to use at school because I could load it with all the books I teach in class and have them all in one place.

Except – once I started looking, I discovered that most children’s books are still not available in Kindle. Strike one. I made a list of about twenty books I regularly used in my 5th grade classroom and found only one of them available in the Kindle store. So scratch that idea.

Taking the Kindle on vacation is problematic, too. Strike two. Although you can safely leave your paperback novel on your beach chair on in the ski lodge, it might not be a good idea to leave your Kindle lying around unsupervised. You can also read your book during take-off and landing on an airplane, but not your electronic reader.

That leaves reading at home, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t think the Kindle can handle the type of reading I’ve been doing lately. In the past month, I’ve read only one novel – but five manuscripts. Two of them were my own, which I was editing, and three belonged to other people, which I marked up with editing notes and comments. Then I emailed them back to their owners. In other words, most of the reading I do these days involves interacting with text on a computer – and doing it in a format transferrable to someone else’s computer as a document file.

I know it’s possible to highlight text and make notes on the Kindle, but I don’t think you can transfer the marked-up document back to a computer – can you? How about the Nook? Or the iPad? I’d love to hear from someone who has one of these devices. How compatible are they with your computer?

Unfortunately, no matter how sleek and attractive and just plain cool they are, I don’t need a uni-tasker – a device used only for reading, and only at home, and only for the books available through the Kindle store. I might have to remain Kindle-less.

Thoughts, anyone?