Shock Troops of the Kindles?

by Fred Ray on April 9, 2012 · 8 comments

I got an email message from a reader who wanted to know if I had any plans to put Shock Troops of the Confederacy on Kindle or something similar. He is moving and has been put on “a paper and printing diet.” I’ve lived that way in certain times and places, where you just can’t accumulate many books.

At this point Shock Troops is effectively out of print. I have only a few copies of the first edition left and the only place you can get them is on my web site. At some point, having found a lot of additional material, I plan to do a second edition but that could be a while.

So I’d like some comments from readers.

How has the Kindle affected your reading habits?

Assuming a reasonable Kindle price, would you buy or prefer the Kindle edition or something similar? What would you consider a “reasonable” price.

The lack of upfront investment makes it an attractive idea. My biggest doubt about the Kindle concerns the maps—Shock Troops has a lot of them and they would be really small on the screen.

What do readers of Civil War subjects think? Is this for serious books or only for light subjects like murder mysteries, chick lit and the like?


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Bailey April 9, 2012 at 10:53 pm

I suspect that if the original is produced as a PDF maps should not be a problem – as long as you stick to the page size.

I have no experience of Kindle, but am purchasing magazines both as PDFs and through Zinio.
If you know someone purchasing Trains through Zinio, look at an issue and see how well Kalmbach’s wonderful maps come up.

It does need an investment in the product prior to publishing.

Tony Bailey
Editor
Transit Australia

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LetUsHavePeace April 10, 2012 at 12:15 am

For us geezers (67+) the Kindle is actually easier to read than standard text. My area of interest is the Constitutional gold standard and Ulysses Grant’s part in getting the country to accept resumption – probably the greatest single economic act of any President in our history. Almost all the stuff that I read and want to read on the subject is available for eReading. As Fred notes, neither the Kindle nor Amazon’s cloud is good for maps. However, the limits of a standard book format are themselves a major constraint for maps; what would be ideal is for maps to be available on the web, where they could be interactive, etc. As for pricing, I find myself buying any Kindle edition under $5 the way I once bought magazines; I just don’t think about the money. Above that price, I begin to be a digital cheapskate: I usually want the Kindle edition to be selling for no more than 2/3rds of the price available for a new or used-like new print edition.

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Joshua Horn April 10, 2012 at 7:42 am

I have read several ebooks on military history, but never any with maps so I am not quite sure how that would work. It is nice to be able to always have your books conveniently with you, but you loose something when it is digital and you can’t hold the paper in your hand.

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Neal West April 10, 2012 at 7:42 am

Fred,
I believe e-books are the future of publishing and, in fact, many historical works are already making the jump. MacPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, Foote’s Civil War, A Narrative, and Ezra Carman’s The Maryland Campaign of 1862 have kindle editions and I just picked up Heuser’s The Evolution of Strategy for $4! As for the maps, most e-readers are zoomable and I’ve had no trouble viewing maps on either my 7″ sony reader or my 10″ tablet.
Your obedient servant, N. West

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Dan Kuehl April 10, 2012 at 8:45 am

I’ve read three books since the first of the year (two on naval history, the other Ian Kershaw’s book “The End” about the end of the Nazi regime), now reading Adrian Tighe’s “The Bristoe Campaign.” Kindles have advantages and disadvantages. Ease of carrying/reading are big advantages, especially when travelling/commuting; maps and flipping between pages to find maps/footnotes are disadvantages.

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jackie martin April 10, 2012 at 10:00 am

I for one am a big Kindle proponent. I have indulged in many large tomes of CW literature, and would be hard pressed to carry those around, especially when traveling. It is SO nice to pull out your Kindle (or whatever your choice) on a plane and not worry if the book is 200 pages or 1000 pages. And I always have a book waiting for me, already downloaded, when I finish the previous read. I always tell a publisher to please make their publication Kindle-ready. I still have my little library of special hardcovered books, but for expediency and convenience, E-readers are IT!!

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Michael Weeks April 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I think the difference-maker is who actually does the Kindle formatting, particularly with maps.

The first couple of books that I got on my Kindle didn’t have great graphics, and some of them were best-sellers. So when my publisher told me that my books were going electronic, I was a little bit nervous. Turns out I had no reason to worry; they hired someone to format the book specifically for eReaders, and they turned out great.

My maps are nowhere near as detailed as some of the military texts out there, but when Savas Beatie had a great offer to download their Maps of Gettysburg for cheap, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s an atlas, so you do have to zoom in and it can be a little troublesome, but I found it surprisingly usable.

I couldn’t live without my Kindle now. Best part: I can carry the memoirs of Grant, Jeff Davis, JB Gordon, Chamberlain, and Frederick Douglass, Lincoln’s complete writings, Cullum’s West Point register, and numerous other sources at all times, and I probably paid a total of less than $5 for all of them. If only the OR would be Kindle-ized…

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Matthew Savage April 18, 2012 at 11:18 am

Hi, first time commenter, really enjoy your blog and I appreciate all the work that goes into it. Ironically enough I found your blog on my kindle, I own both a kindle 2 and a fire, and I am currently pursuing a second masters in military history. I can say from personal experience that the kindle is very easy to use with the highlighting functions and keyword searches being among my top favorites from an academic point of view. If a book has extensive maps or photos I use the fire as it is crisper and easier to blow them up, if not the kindle 2.
The absolute best feature of either is the ability to find rare or non mainstream published books, and take them all with me at the same time. Size is also an issue, I am finishing my WW2 class, we used A World at Arms by Weinberg as the main text, while it was a great book it is 1200 pages long and weighs 5 pounds, not exactly a bedtime reader. I have all of Sherman’s, Grants, and Sheridan’s memoirs on my kindle (on my to read list if I ever get time) and they weigh nothing and consume hardly any digital space. I must admit I am also a bit of an impulse buyer which is more to Amazon’s advantage them mine, but at least I no longer have stacks of books littering the basement which I may or may not ever get to. Just based on the quality of the research and writing from your blog I am sure you would do well with the Amazon e market place.

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