E-Impulse: I Regret Nothing

0kathy-blogby Kathy Waller

My mum says, “Go with your first instinct,” but this can lead to impulse buying! ~ Lindsay Lohan

Recently, we’ve heard a lot about how the Internet is changing how Americans shop. E-commerce is causing a radical shift in how we buy and sell.

I’m more concerned, however, with how e-commerce affects me personally. In only a month, online shopping changed me from a (relatively) sane, sober citizen into a jumble of impulses. My experience shows that, where e-tail is, impulse lurks close behind; and where impulse lurks, one thing leads to another. And you never know where you’ll end up. For example—

In October I learned that my favorite blogger, Kate Shrewsday, and her friends had published an e-book of ghost stories, Echoes in Darkness. Impulse #1: I wanted it.

Thanks to a quirky laptop, I could download e-books but couldn’t open them. The quirk led to Impulse #2: I had to buy an e-reader. Immediately.

The basic Kindle, which was all I wanted—I am Luddite enough to be offended when a telephone doubles as everything from a camera to a washing machine—was on sale, so I ordered it. Impatience led to Impulse #3, paying extra for faster delivery.

When the Kindle arrived and was charged up, I downloaded Echoes in Darkness and devoured it whole. Kate’s story leads off, and it’s exactly what a ghost story should be: unsettling at first, and after the last word, chilling. The seven companion stories follow suit.

Now, sometimes purchases made without serious thought are followed by buyer’s remorse. But not in this case. I designated them as an early Christmas gift and let regret take care of itself. However…

Although the Kindle is labeled an e-reader, it’s really a library. And my library had only one book.

To a former librarian, a library with one book is like a matador’s cape to a bull, the perfect excuse for charging. (In more ways than one.)

Thus I arrived at Impulse #4: Scheduled to attend author John Pipkin’s workshop on writing historical fiction, I needed to read his bestselling novel, Woodsburner. So I downloaded it.

The next day, I recalled my critique group, Austin Mystery Writers, would soon host its own workshop. Three guest authors would present the program, and the least I could do was become familiar with their work.

I had already read Janice’s Hamrick’s latest mystery, Death Rides Again, but had not read any of Reavis Wortham’s work. Impulse #5: I downloaded The Rock Hole, the first in his Red River series. Impulse #6: The prices of the other two books in the series were so low that, to paraphrase my great-aunt Lydia, I’d have lost money if I hadn’t bought them. Downloaded them.

I’d known our third presenter, Karen MacInerney, for years and had read all of her Gray Whale Inn cozy series. But one of her short stories was on sale for mere pennies. Impulse #7: Downloaded.

Still, I felt no regret. Impulses #4 through #7 were necessary for professional development.

By this time, things had snowballed. A fellow writer recommended Carolyn Kaufman’s The Writer’s Guide to Psychology and Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear. I downloaded. An ad for The Book Thief triggered Impulse #9, a download of the book.

Waiting for Donna Tartt’s visit to the local indie bookstore, I yielded to Impulse #10, a pre-order of The Goldfinch.

Regarding that last, I admit experiencing discomfort. In line at the bookstore’s coffee shop, I found myself standing beside a shelf of massive—more than eight hundred pages—hardback copies. A wave of longing swept over me. I wanted to curl up with one, feel its weight, turn its pages slowly, one by one, and wallow in Essence of Book.

But that was all spilt milk.

The Goldfinch was my last download. Perhaps the thought of its length stopped me. Perhaps I decided ten impulses were enough. Perhaps I simply came to my senses.

Looking back on the month-long binge, I find two things remarkable.

The first is that I bought the Kindle at all. I’d never wanted an e-reader. When I read, I wanted real words in real ink on real paper.

 

Now, though, I seem to have entered the 21st century. I occasionally try to turn a page by swatting the machine with my right hand. But that will end.

The second remarkable thing is the tiny dent all those downloads—which, if I were facing facts, I would call purchases—put in my pocketbook. Most were priced in the one digits. The low one digits. Some were free.

The pocketbook issue continues to make online shopping attractive. Browsing the catalog, I’ve turned up more bargains: The Complete Works of Edith Wharton for a pittance; the novels of Henry James for even less.

As I said earlier, when you’re dealing with impulse, one thing leads to another.

In my case, impulse led to serendipity, down the primrose path to my own well-stocked library.

 

Just what I’ve always wanted.

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Kathy Waller welcomes your visits to her blog,  To write is to write is to write, and to her Facebook  page.

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24 Responses to E-Impulse: I Regret Nothing

  1. Wranglers says:

    Great blog. Nice photos and links. This was a fun read. Talk about impulse- I’m the person they put all the little things by chec?kout counters for. I know you worked hard on this blog and the listing was rough going, but it is well worth it. Thanks for the smiles. Cher’ley

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  2. A really great post. I haven’t gotten an e-reader yet, but I sure would like to.

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  3. katewyland says:

    I was also a late-comer to e-reading and now I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve downloaded. And you just made me add a couple of more to my wish list. I will say I still prefer paper for non-fiction. I like to flip back and forth and tag things. But for fiction, why pay print prices?

    Have fun with your new toy, which will rapidly become an essential. 🙂

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  4. Kathy says:

    Reblogged this on To write is to write is to write and commented:
    Some thoughts on the link between e-commerce and e-Kathy, from Writing Wranglers and Warriors.

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  5. I am certainly a fan of instant gratification. When I get to the checkout counter, I catch up on all the current culture I know nothing about, like Kardashians and Jennifer Aniston’s on and off again marriage plans over the grocery store conveyor belt. I am a Luddite but I do like cars.

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  6. Kathy says:

    Cars are good. Kardashians might be good, for that matter, although I’m still not sure who they are and why we care.

    Thank you for visiting and commenting. I hope your writing is going well.

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  7. Nice post Kathy and it rings so true! When I got my first Kindle a few years ago I was eager to fill my library with books and loved the portability. A couple of years later my daughter and son-in-law surprised me with a Kindle Fire. They’ve already shared the news that I’m getting another Kindle Fire (updated with more features) for Christmas this year. The thing I like best about my Kindle is the opportunity to download my own novel to check for punctuation, errors and the like. I have many good books I plan to read on my Kindle. However, this summer while I was recuperating I had an urge to read a book with a cover and pages. I read a book a day all summer and am still doing pretty much the same. My Kindle has sat untouched while I hold a book in my hand, use a bookmark to keep my place, smell the paper and enjoy the cover and jacket. I do love the Kindle for traveling and at night so I don’t keep my husband awake. Right now I’m reading three books at once, one on the Kindle, one in hardback, and one on CD. I love them all!

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    • Kathy says:

      I like being able to carry the Kindle in my purse to read while waiting for appointments without the weight of a book. I know I’ll like it for traveling. But I agree–sometimes I want a book.

      Thanks much for commenting. I hope I didn’t fill up your inbox with hysterical e-mails last night.

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  8. Sometimes, I wish I’d gone with my first instinct. This was a good post.

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  9. Nancy Jardine says:

    It’s all too true, Kathy about the e revolution. It’s so easy to stock up your e reader and then groan about how long it will take to read them all. It’s definitely great for the reader’s pocket book but the author, on the other hand? That’s a different story because most are like me in that whatever amount I earn in book sales (very small) is spent buying other people’s books (also a small outlay since they are cheap!), Thank you for a refreashing post!

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  10. Doris says:

    Kathy, I love my stand alone Kindle along with the computer versions plus Nook, but nothing will ever change my love of holding the book in my hand. Sometimes I have even read the Kindle version and gone and bought the paper for I want to make sure I always have it on hand. Love this, and yes it can be addictive. Get a daily list of ‘freebies’ and it has added to the collection and a chance to try new authors, some of which are quite good and I purchase their other works. Doris

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  11. erinfarwell says:

    I didn’t think I’d like an e-reader and then received one a few years ago for my birthday – absolutely love it. Upgraded to a Kindle Fire which has advantages and drawbacks but still a wonderful thing. I’ll mention that you can sign up for Pixels of Ink and they will send you a daily email of specific free and/or discounted books on Amazon. Talk about a way to build up a library. I talked about this in my last post here. 🙂 Great post and I can’t wait to read more of your work.

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  12. Kerry Barger says:

    Hi Kathy! I was just reading this and decided to give you a “heads-up”. All of my Kindle books will be free December 24,25 & 26 at the Amazon Kindle store. On another note, after 2 years of watching tv instead of writing everyday, an idea struck me for a fourth book. After 3 weeks I’m writing on the seventh chapter, my Verizon FIOS DVR is filling to maximum capacity. I just can’t wait to wake up and get back to the computer to research and write more on my subject everyday. I will always be grateful for your having “defended my honor” when those idiots were giving me a rough time about the title of “An American Holocaust”. If you didn’t know, I finally justified the title to future readers by including a specific quote from Walter Cronkite. When he was broadcasting about the aftermath at the London School explosion, he referred to it as a “holocaust”. I included the quote in my foreword. So, thanks again! Later…

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  13. Gayle Irwin says:

    Kathy, welcome to the group, and what a great post! I bought a used Kindle a few years ago just to try it out; my husband uses it more than I do, but now that I’m writing more for Kindle, we’ve decided to buy a Kindle Fire as our joint Christmas present. I do believe we’ll see more and more e-books and e-readers — the youth LOVE technology and so the rest of us, especially writers, will need to ride that wave with them. I hope you enjoy your library!!

    Like

  14. Wranglers says:

    Fantastic post. Made me laugh!

    Like

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