Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Greatest First Page Ever Becomes More Essential

It's always been important to have a great first page, and a great first chapter, but I realise it's become more important than ever. Why? Well, it's been my birthday recently and for my birthday I got a Kindle.

This weekend I downloaded about 300+ books for under £10 - the complete works of Austen, Wharton, Brontes (all of them), Shakespeare, James, Hardy, Dickens. I reckon that'll keep me quiet on the longest train journey. (And does the availability of 31 novels by Edith Wharton for 71 pence explain why ebooks are apparently outselling paper books on Amazon in quantity? I suspect so.)

I also downloaded lots of samples, some for 'How to write' books - my little weakness - and some for contemporary novels. Of the 8 contemporary novel samples I downloaded I actually went ahead and purchased 2. That's 6 books I might have bought in a bookshop where I could only really read the first page and look at the cover, and 6 books which I decided against buying when I'd read the first chapter.

This is the future, a One-Click world where it's very easy to buy books, but equally easy to discard them if the contents don't grab the reader. And over the next couple of days I think I'll be talking about ways to grab the reader - and yes, anticipation is one of them.


badas2010 said...

Congrats on your birthday - and your Kindle.
My wife bought me one for my recent birthday too, and the effect I've noticed is that I'm reading more and different things to my usual fare.
The cost is minimal and although I haven't bought as many as yourself - I've just got five stacked up - the sky really is the limit.
The capacity of 3500 books really is plenty, don't you think?
The chance to read the free sample of any book before downloading it is a major advantage - it's all so easy.
Happy reading to you.

Pauline Barclay said...

Happy belated Birthday and delighted you ahe a kindle.I love mine too and read even more than between writing! Enjoy your Kindle! x

Jim Murdoch said...

One has to wonder just how the rise of the e-book will affect the literary novel. Genre novels have always tended towards the formulaic, the trick being to do interesting things within that given formula. I subscribe to a few sites advertising the kinds of books that are going straight-to-e-book (has the terrible ring of straight-to-video, doesn’t it?) and so far there have been two where I’ve saved the link and might buy the book but that’s two out of a long list I wouldn’t give house room to. Those two, by the way, are Joe is Online and The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters both of which look (and this is the key for me) different.

My fear is that books will go the way of albums. Kids don’t buy albums these days, they cherry-pick the good tracks. I wonder if the short story might finally rise to the top of the pile? For years short story writers have struggled to get into print but maybe that’s all about to change. Who knows?

I have only read one book on an e-reader (not even my Kindle, my old Rocket eReader) and it was Down and Out in London and Paris. In principle I’m all for them but I’m too long in the tooth to embrace them wholeheartedly. Have you heard about a book called It’s A Book? If not then this post will amuse you.

Sarah Duncan said...

Well, I've started reading What Maisie Knew by Henry James because a) it's been one of those books I've been meaning to read for years and b) it was the one I most fancied out of the classic titles I downloaded for about 2p a book.

Would I have read it without my Kindle? In all honesty, I think I would have gone to my grave with WMK on my mental To Be Read bookshelf. (Jury's out on it, BTW - I'm interested but, boy, is he wordy.)

It'll be interesting to see how it affects books. I find the search facility promotes the best seller, which I'm more likely to not be interested in. But hopefully I'll improve how I find my way around the Kindle store.

So I reckon my reading experience matches yours so far, badas, Pauline and Jim, and thanks for the It's a Book post. I had heard of it vaguely but not had the details.