02.11.09

Hot Books for the New Kindle

On Monday, Amazon introduced its new electronic reader. Sara Nelson shares the e-books she’d most like read. Plus: A review of the Kindle 2.

Plus: Check out Book Beast, for more news on hot titles, authors and excerpts from the latest books.

On Monday, Amazon introduced its new electronic reader. Sara Nelson shares the e-books she’d most like to read. Plus: A review of the Kindle 2.

What becomes a Kindle most? To hear Jeff Bezos tell it, Amazon now stocks 230,000 Kindle-ready e-books. But even the most extreme readers know that just as some titles translate better to audio than others, others are better suited to the e-realm. It’s a matter of personal choice, of course, but it seems to me that what you want is a book compelling enough to make the “delivery system” disappear. What works best on Kindle: large books (as in long)—note to Bezos: why not put Roberto Bolano’s 900-plus page 2666 into e-format? We lit wonks would love it.—and small (as in import or longevity), so you can get what you came for, and move on.

Anything with short chapters and specific advice—scroll, read, repeat—defines Kindle-worthy in my book.

Here are those kind of Kindles:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo By Stieg Larsson. Novels are usually harder to choose electronically because we rely so much on subliminal cues like paper stock, jacket art and typeface. But this one is different—because the story of a sex crime and the journalist and odd-duck techie girl who solve it is so compulsively readable you won't even notice that you're pushing buttons. (And on the new Kindle, it'll be even easier to skim the opening section, which is so complicated as to be unintelligible.)

Lincoln: A Biography By Ronald C. White, Jr. With a "print length” of 816 pages and a list price of $35, the $9.99 Kindle version—never mind that some publishers say it's not that much cheaper to produce an e-book than a print book, and that therefore the price should (and will eventually be) higher—tells you all you need to know about Obama’s hero.

What Would Google Do? By Jeff Jarvis. Read all about a tech monster on a tech monster by the guy was founding editor of Entertainment Weekly. Talk about perfect synergy.

Meltdown By Katrina vanden Heuvel A collection of essays from the editor of The Nation. Too disturbing to read all of a piece, better to bookmark one at a time.

The 4 Day Diet By Ian K Smith. Anything with short chapters and specific advice—scroll, read, repeat—defines Kindle-worthy in my book. (I'd also put travel books and cookbooks in this category.) Especially because then you don't have to worry that they add to shelf girth.

Appetite for Self Destruction By Steve Knopper.The inside story about the demise of the record business. Will the same thing happen to the book publishing, and if so, isn't Kindle part of the reason? Stephen King, at the Kindle2 press conference didn't seem to think so ("It isn't as if the two things [reading and technology] are in conflict with each other," he said on Monday. Let's hope not.

Sara Nelson is the former editor in chief of Publishers Weekly and the author of the bestselling So Many Books, So Little Time.