by Kathleen Ernst
Back in October, I had two launch parties to celebrate the release of Old World Murder. One took place at Old World Wisconsin, the historic site that provides the setting for the book. I used to work there. I’m very comfortable hanging around people wearing period clothing.
I also had a wonderful time at launch party held at Booked for Murder, a terrific independent bookstore in Madison, WI. I signed a goodly number of books, and a good time was had by all.
One person who came had already read the book—on her electronic reader. She brought it to the store and surreptitiously showed it to me. “I thought you might like to see how Old World Murder looks as an eBook,” she said. I’d never seen any of my books on an electronic reader before.
More recently, I spent two days at a book table as part of a Norwegian Christmas weekend at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. In addition to signing Old World Murder, I signed copies of The Runaway Friend (my only book for young readers which has a Scandinavian theme). One mom happily bought a copy of The Runaway Friend for her daughter, and said she’d look for Old World Murder for her Kindle.
I’ve since seen what Old World Murder looks like on both the Nook and Kindle. (The color version above is on a Nook.) Having the ability to adjust font size has made reading possible and fun again for lots of people. Traveling with a single well-loaded reader is much nicer than lugging ten books along. And saving paper is a good thing.
Still, I worry about the toll eBooks take on bookstores. And I hope that readers who enjoy downloads will still be interested in coming to book talks and programs. For me, meeting readers in person is the most fun part of what I do! And there will always be something magical about personally inscribing a book for someone.
Technology is catching up with me in other ways, too. I recently participated in my first long-distance book program. A school district in Kentucky had chosen my latest kids’ mystery, Clues in the Shadows, for their book group. The program ended with a visit from the author—that would be me!—through the miracle of technology. Fifty young readers and their parents gathered at a public library, and I connected with them via Skype.
I’d been asked to talk about my writing for twenty minutes, followed by another twenty minutes of Q & A. The sound system on their end cut in and out, and the facilitator made an adjustment that meant I couldn’t hear anything from their end during my opening remarks. I’m used to having a conversation with kids, not to talking nonstop, so it felt awkward to me. But the kids seemed delighted.
I know that many authors have been using Skype for years to connect with book clubs and other groups. I haven’t sought it out because I’m always worried that the technology will fritz. Still, it’s a great way to engage with readers long distance. I’m sure I’ll do more programs this way.
And yes, I now own an eReader.
So, how about you? Have you embraced new technologies as a reader and/or writer?