Lesson #67: Two Things Amazon Doesn’t Tell You About the Kindle

by Rachel on January 26, 2011

In the month since I received my Kindle, I’ve been putting it to good use.

But I’ve discovered two things that I never would have expected, that Amazon doesn’t tell you.

Of course, I’m going to tell you myself, because that’s what I like to do.

1. You can’t judge a book by its page count. When you are browsing at Barnes and Noble, you may come across a book that looks intriguing. But, after lifting it off the shelf, you’ll realize it weighs as much as a newborn, so you’ll immediately replace it, remembering that you simply do not read books that are more than 300 pages, because you only have time to read so many pages in a year, and you can’t give such a large percentage of those pages to just one book. (Especially, if you’re me, one work of fiction.)

But when you buy a Kindle book on Amazon, you have to actively seek out a book’s page count. If you don’t, you’ll buy a book like The Corrections without even thinking about it, until, after several days of reading, you realize you are only 20 percent done according to the timeline at the bottom, and you think, Hm…how the fuck long is this?

And then you realize you committed yourself to 576 pages with the Lambert family, which is totally is not a bad thing, because I loved the book, but it’s something that I would have liked to know ahead of time. I am now dying to start Freedom, but it’s also 576 pages and I need to mentally prepare myself.

What’s a girl to do when she’s committed herself to 576 pages of fiction? Fill the Kindle with other books for when she wants a break, of course! Because it’s so easy to tote your whole library around, it’s so easy to read a little of one book and then a little of another. I alternated with…The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Assassination Vacation, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, and The Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-first Century. (The last one is not available for Kindle, so I did have to feel so 2009 and actually flip pages.) That’s a lot of pages to cover in one month!

2. No one can judge you by a book’s cover. Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. You’re missing a huge marketing opportunity here! Because the Kindle? Is perfect for perverts, sociopaths, or simply anyone who wants to read a book about suspecting their husband is gay or quitting a terrible job. We’ve all seen those books that we’d love to read, but the title is just too embarrassing to actually purchase in a store or read in the company of other people. Why isn’t Amazon telling people that they can discreetly read trashy romance novels, nerdy sci-fi, or books about how to lose their virginity and get knocked up by an NBA star in six easy steps or and no one will have to know?!

When I had this amazing “getting it” moment and tweeted about it, there was a mixed response. Some people expressed sentiments to the effect of, “DUH! Why else would anyone pay $150 for a piece of technology if it didn’t in some way help with activities you’re ashamed of?” Other people were equally as blown away as I was. My favorite response was someone who congratulated me that I could now buy porn this way. I tweeted back, “Aww…I think it’s cute that you’d think I’m ashamed to be seen buying porn.”

(I don’t buy it, but if I did, I’d own it.)

Actually, the book that made me discover this amazing fact was one book that I’m not so sure I would have wanted to buy in a store, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be seen reading. This book has the worst, worst, worst title…but let me just tell you, it’s filled with incredibly valuable information. And I’m not just talking about the titillating second half which shows off classics such as “The Basket Weave” and “Ode to Bryan.” I actually loved the first half, which had a ton of really fabulous tips on just having a good relationship. It really made me think about what I bring to a relationship (besides the mad skillz I was now learning in the later chapters) and, basically, how to not act like an asshole. (Although ass-play was covered toward the end.) Some of the tips were the kind of common sense that it’s good to re-hear, and others made me think about things I hadn’t thought of before. With a title like that, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to even keep it in my nightstand, but because I was able to put it in my Kindle, I didn’t have to worry about it.

Thanks, Amazon Kindle!

What’s everyone reading at the moment? I’ve got $20 from my Living Social deal to burn and could use more recommendations. All your suggestions on my last post led to some great reads!

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dori January 26, 2011 at 9:44 am

My writing teacher (who wrote that book I sent you! did you ever read it???) posted this on her Facebook the other day:

My therapist once urged me to read the book “The Dance of Intimacy.” I said, “OK. But NOT on the subway.” She said, “That would be a good exercise for you actually.” I tried, failed, and so am familiar with the bravery/idiocy that goes in to such a feat. Ergo: I’d like to give NY’s Bravest Woman award to a lass I saw on the train today reading the humiliation fest, “Why Am I Still Single?” Lady, I salut you!


2 Dori January 26, 2011 at 9:45 am

Sorry, I wanted to add the book she wrote is called People Are Unappealing: Even Me, in case anyone is interested in a hilarious and short read! Also, I just bought that D mug, it was on sale!


3 Heather January 26, 2011 at 10:03 am

Thanks for posting the title – I was just about to ask you :)


4 Dori January 26, 2011 at 11:11 am

You will LOVE it! I read the book, was obsessed, researched the teacher and signed up for her writing class.


5 Rachel January 26, 2011 at 11:40 am

I actually did read it — well, I started it, but after a few chapters, I just couldn’t connect with it/get into it. I know you loved it, but I just couldn’t get it up.

Three cheers to that lady on the subway BTW!


6 Dori January 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Ah, the chapter that I loved the most was chapter 2.


7 Erin (Travel Eat Repeat) January 26, 2011 at 9:55 am

I just finished the magnificent ‘The Imperfectionists,’ a series of short, inter-connected stories about a failing newspaper in Europe. I also couldn’t put down Ken Follett’s (LONG) ‘Fall of Giants’ and Bill Brysons (short) Shakespeare bio.


8 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:27 am

Hmmm The Imperfectionists sounds good! I will have to check that out!


9 Paige January 26, 2011 at 9:58 am

I just got a fancy new Droid phone and was excited to discover that I could download Kindle books onto it. I started skimming the Amazon store and was amazed to discover how many a) erotica books and b) erotica masked as trashy romance books were available for free. I’ve never been big on either genre, but honestly? Free is hard to pass up.

A few books that I liked recently:

The Thirteenth Tale (which I’m pretty sure is young adult fiction. but still awesome.)
I Don’t: A Contrarian View of Marriage
all of the Sookie Stackhouse series (I’m not into the vampire thing, but I’m strangely sucked into this series. but it’s totally “fluff” reading.)
Little Children (they made a movie out of this not long ago)

The Kindle thing definitely gets more tempting all the time…


10 Heather January 26, 2011 at 10:02 am

OH MY WORD- Assassination Vacation – did you LOVE Vowell? Because I do.

Also – I am currently reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lammott and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – can you believe I hadn’t read it until now?

about 234790230 people have recommended The American Wife to me – mostly because of my love of Presidential Fun Facts and obsession with Madison, WI, I think , but it’s on my list to purchase once I finish the list of 27 books I committed to reading before making any more book purchase. [this comes after realizing I had well over 50 books in my apartment I had never read. oops.]

are you on goodreads.com? bc you should be! i am loving looking at everyone’s reviews and seeing which books I should add to my “to-read” list!


11 Paige January 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

Agreed on the Goodreads!


12 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

I have been thinking about The American Wife!! I will add it to the list.


13 Cate January 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm

American Wife is really quite interesting and a great read! The author also wrote Prep which is one of my favorite books as well!


14 Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle January 26, 2011 at 10:09 am

I just finished “Room” and loved it. I highly recommend it.


15 Heather January 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I’ve heard SO MANY good things about Room! It’s on my “to-read” list FOR SURE.


16 LC @ Let Them Eat Lentils January 26, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Agree on Room.


17 sj January 26, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Yup – Room is great! I just finished it yesterday and read it in 3 days (quick for me). The language is somewhat annoying at the beginning, but you get used to it very quickly, and it ends up sucking you in.


18 Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher January 26, 2011 at 10:13 am

I’m loving Best Food Writing 2010. One of the most gorgeous, thought-provoking reads I’ve read in a while.


19 Eunice January 26, 2011 at 10:18 am

I have $20 from Living Social too, and I’m so overwhelmed with book choices. Going to check out your suggestions! (Not the sex one.) (Yes the sex one.)


20 Salah (My Healthiest Lifestyle) January 26, 2011 at 10:22 am

I want a kindle soooo bad!!! haha


21 Nicci@NiftyEats January 26, 2011 at 10:59 am

I’ve been debating about purchasing a Kindle or the Ipad. Heard many great things about Kindle, think I’m going that route or try out the Kindle for Iphone.


22 Christie January 26, 2011 at 11:24 am

Uhm. So I totally bought a naughty book on my kindle app. Screams squirms and squirts. It’s educational. And naughty.

It’s there. You just have to look for it. Like porn on the Internet!


23 Alina @ Duty Free Foodie January 26, 2011 at 11:30 am

Too funny! The other thing they don’t tell you is that the page turning black during turning may drive you crazy when you test your friends’ kindles, leading to months of agonizing over whether you should buy yourself a kindle.


24 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

Really? I’m not driven crazy by this!


25 Jay Dolan January 26, 2011 at 11:58 am

I just started reading Freedom, and I’m terrible at it. I can’t read more than five pages at a time without nodding off. This is going to make for a very long 576 pages to read.


26 Jess January 26, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I keep thinking about getting a kindle. i love my books and will always have shelves of them but the convenience factor of the kindle is very tempting. oh and the fact that i want to read that book with the horrid title, but i’d be way too embarrassed to buy it in the store:)


27 Jasmine January 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I’m currently reading Book 5 in the Dark Tower Series, but I’m not loving it.

Next, I’m reading Eating Animals by Jonathon Foer. After that, I’m reading Almost Moon by Alice Sebold. She is the author of The Lovely Bones, which if you haven’t read it, is an AMAZING book. I highly HIGHLY recommend that book. So incredibly well written.


28 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

Oh yeah, The Lovely Bones is one of my all time faves! I re-read it every few years and then get super emo for a few weeks.


29 LC @ Let Them Eat Lentils January 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I’ve been suggesting The Hunger Games to everyone recently. They all love it. You can start with the first book, and it’s fairly quick to get through.

I realized your second point about the kindle when I reread the twilight series for the second time. To not have to be the girl on the bus toting around her GIANT hardcover copy of Breaking Dawn is pretty much priceless.

Side note – I’ve noticed that people start talking to me when they see me reading my kindle bc they are naturally curious about it. Has that happened to you? I’m like, obviously I’m reading and don’t want to talk to you. Happens more now when I travel since its pretty ubiquitous already in SF.


30 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

It doesn’t happen to me often, but probably because I don’t take public transportation. But I could DEFINITELY see that. Whenever anyone hears me mention it, they ask how I feel about it!


31 Jane January 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I read every day and don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I always have to recommend people read “Liars & Saints” and “A Family Daughter” by Maile Meloy. You sort of have to read the former before the latter (although you could do it the other way around), and you have to read one right after the other (this is certain), but they’re amazing books and really the only contemporary literature I enjoy.


32 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:31 am

Hello, and welcome to the fabulous world of commenting!

I will definitely check these outs!


33 Rebekah January 26, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I’m reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I would recommend it, just be aware that’s it’s loooooong. :)


34 Matt January 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm

A couple of recent books I finished in the last week that were really interesting are:
– Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
– Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

I highly suggest both of them. One historical fiction and the other about what shapes our decisions. As part of my purchase of a Kindle for myself I made a resolution to read at minimum 50 books in 2011. I’m six books down already, somehow fitting the reading in between work, gym, fun, and sleep.

Don’t forget about the fact that you can ‘lend’ certain books on the Kindle. Look into that, because then if you have any other friends with Kindles’ they can lend you books instead of you spending the money on them, and you have two weeks to read it before it automatically returns to their kindle. Awesome!


35 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

Oooh I LOVE historical fiction and sort of pop-science/pop-psychology, so these both sound good.

I have been wanting to do the lend thing, but none of my books have been eligible yet! Have you had this problem?


36 Leah (Nutritionista) January 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm

If you’re in the mood for YA, I hear The Hunger Games series is amazing. It’s next on my to-read list, because I’m not even trying to pretend I don’t love YA novels.


37 Christie January 26, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I heard about those. Will have to try. I love YA novels. Except Twilight. I wouldn’t touch that.


38 Nicole January 26, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I’m reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My mom read the first two of this trilogy and I just ordered her the last. It should be arriving at her doorstep shortly. The goal is to finish this and the second by April so that when I go visit her (she’s in Phoenix) I can take it back east with me. Have you read any of them?


39 caitie January 26, 2011 at 10:52 pm

This is what I was going to recommend! I am on the third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest and am so obsessed. I am sad this is the last of the book. I find myself wanting to know what’s going to happen but then I dont want it to be over!
And dont over look them because they sound weird or not what you normally read. I usually love easy, summer type books but these are seriously sooo incredibly good!!!


40 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

I haven’t read them but I have definitely been very tempted…I really just needed a recommendation to do it! I’m not going to lie, if a book is popular, it makes me want to read it.


41 Erica January 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm

I just finished The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall and I really liked it/I really like pologymist information so, that could be why.

I am read The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman and I love it.

I was just tweeting about how obsessed with my Kindle I am. Because I am.


42 Lauren at KeepItSweet January 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

I JUST started using my kindle. I still have mixed feelings about it but it certainly is convenient. Love the 2nd point about not being judged by the cover. I have definitely shied away from romance novels out of embarrassment from time to time!


43 Megan @ MegGoesNomNom January 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Been toying with the idea of getting a Kindle. Recommendations for the $139 vs the $189 one?


44 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:34 am

I like having the $189 one because it means I can download books without having to worry about being connected to the internet. This isn’t a HUGE deal — most of the time, I download them from home — but it is a nice convenience not to have to worry about, especially in an airport, where you can’t really connect to the wireless from your Kindle!


45 Robyn January 27, 2011 at 1:12 am

“Bonk” is GREAT. Any of her books are awesome though… If you get a chance, read “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.” Fascinating and funny…


46 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

I love Stiff! It’s probably one of the most fascinating books I have ever read, and Mary Roach is just SO funny.


47 Christina January 27, 2011 at 3:00 am

Rachel- I think after you have your Kindle a bit longer you’ll start to get a good feel for how “long (heavy)” a certain page-count is. I’ve had mine for a year and read books of all different lengths and after awhile you start to realize what page-count means for your reading time.


48 Caitlin January 27, 2011 at 9:12 am

I’ve heard about “Sex at Dawn” from a podcast I listen to that regularly features the author. (The podcast is Savage Love, which Rachel you NEED to subscribe to – the host is right up your alley.)

I’ve made it a priority to get back into reading with the stack of books I have and right now I am reading “Little Bee.” It only took about 25 pages or so to get into it and I am LOVING it thus far.

A Kindle is next on my tech list. Much cheaper than Lightroom.


49 KaraQ January 27, 2011 at 10:58 am

ohmygosh — Little Bee is FANTASTIC! I hope you continue loving it!


50 Heather January 27, 2011 at 11:03 am

I will never stop thanking you and J for introducing me to Savage Lovecast. Fabulous. Rachel – if you aren’t already subscribing, DO IT.


51 Paige January 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

I’ve never heard of this podcast and now I feel like I’m missing out on something awesome. Time to investigate!


52 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

People keep recommending that to me, and I just need to do it! For some reason, I’m just bad about listening to podcasts! I think it’s because I don’t have much of a drive…well, actually, the problem with Houston is that you have to drive so aggressively that you can’t listen to much except background music. But I have heard such good things about Savage Love, maybe I need to make the time!


53 Laura Georgina January 27, 2011 at 9:24 am

I love love LOVE Aravind Adiga’s books and just threw a hissy fit when I finished his short stories Between The Assassinations last night (because I didn’t want it to be over). It’s a really great collection of interconnected short stories about the lives of people in the south of India. His novel White Tiger is spit-out-your-drink funny, too, and both are really absorbing and incisive critiques of India (corruption, caste, inequalities, etc).


54 Kaley January 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

Well, I’m in the middle of a few things (the Kindle helps with this), and I just finished Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain, which I loved because I love his snarky wit and unabashed love of food.

What I also really like is Read It Later (http://readitlaterlist.com/) which lets me save longer articles and read them later, as in, on my Kindle. I even followed this Twitter, LongReads (@LongReads), that points me directly to some interesting content to save and read later. I read while walking to my job. And no, I’ve not tripped yet.


55 Kaley January 27, 2011 at 9:54 am

P.S. I am excited about this http://www.kindlelendingclub.com/index.htm


56 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:39 am

Oh perfect, thanks for the web tips!!


57 Heather January 27, 2011 at 10:55 am

a few weeks ago, I posted about books.
the best part about my post was the conversation taking place in the comments. I still go back every few days to read over the comments in search of book titles and descriptions left by readers which I may have missed and should add to my “to-read” list –

Recently, my little sister left me this comment, which I reread this morning and said “AH! I have to tell Rachel!” –

“First, I love coming back to this post to see what others are reading.

One of my favorite websites to use is Your Next Read (yournextread.com). You can input an author or book and it will give suggestions for similar books/authors. I have found some good stuff off of it. Also, you can recommend books for others. Fun!

If you are a Kindle owner, you likely know that Amazon recently opened up sharing/borrowing books. There are some restrictions, but it is a pretty sweet program. If you are like me, you know a few other people with Kindles, but your friend group is not swarming with e-readers. In comes another great web community: Kindle Lending Club (kindlelendingclub.com). This is a community of people who are willing to lend out their books for you to borrow. At the same time, you can lend books to others. Before doing the latter, I suggest making sure you’ve read and understand the guidelines to lending (especially that Kindle books can only be lent once).

Yay for web communities for readers!”



58 Sarah January 27, 2011 at 11:54 am

Ha! I also love that no one can tell what I’m reading. I mean, there are just some books I feel stupid reading on the bus, like Chelsea Handler. And every book on marketing has juuuust about the ugliest cover design. Like some guy with money on fire and font with horrible drop shadows and names like “Take over the world in under 3 minutes a day”. I prefer to keep those under wraps too.


59 Michelle @ michellegmason.com/blog January 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Hey Rachel! I’m obsessed with my Kindle, too. A few of my recent reads that I would recommend: The Help, Eating Animals, You or Someone Like You, The Emperor’s Children and Sh** My Dad Says.

One complaint though, it drives me NUTS how long the Kindle takes to start up sometimes. Anyone else have that issue? I have the wireless kind, and if I’m in a location where I can automatically connect to wireless it turns on immediately, but if I’m in the subway or something, it takes 2 or 3 minutes to load before it will go to the homescreen.


60 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 9:40 am

Really? I haven’t had problems with this! I turn my wireless off sometimes so that I don’t waste battery, and I’ve never had any issues!


61 Jenna January 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I really enjoyed “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. “The American Wife” was also a great book!

I love your mug! My fiance & I both got one last year with our initials! :D


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