The Corner

The iPod for Books

Ever since The First Assassin was published about six weeks ago, readers have asked if it will be available on Kindle. I’m happy to report that now it is.

I had no idea that Kindles were so popular. A number of readers said they’d buy the book — but only when it became available in pixels. They’ve completely given up on old-fashioned books. I envy their ability to save shelf space, but I can’t see myself doing the same thing, at least not yet.

Earlier this year, Amazon.com reported that when customers could choose between hard copies of books and their Kindle versions, 35 percent chose the Kindle version. This was right after a new product launch, so perhaps the figure was a bit inflated. Even so, it’s an astonishing percentage. It may provide a glimpse of our future. These devices could become like iPods for books.

The responsibility for creating a Kindle version of The First Assassin fell on my shoulders. I learned that it’s easy to do poorly — in other words, it was simple to create an e-book, but harder to make it look like something other than an amateur product. So a delay set in, as my wife and I puzzled over how to make my book appear professional. Eventually, I had to call for reinforcements in the form of an old friend who is savvy about these sorts of things. He worked out the bugs, we uploaded the Kindle version, and now it’s out.

John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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