Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Temptation Tuesday - Technology...

Kate Hardy talks about something that can always tempt her...

Temptation Tuesday. There are people out there who may be thinking: aha, Kate’s going to talk about Antonio Banderas. Or Radley handbags. Or Pandora bracelets.

I could… (evil grin – I’m well aware that I am a Bad Influence on several romance authors)

But actually, I’m going to talk about something that probably drives most of us batty. (How many people reading this have had a PC crash on them and wipe out their day’s work? And how many of us have learned to back up VERY frequently with a memory stick?) But it’s also something that nowadays we’d find it very difficult to live without. I’m very grateful for email because it’s a brilliant communication tool when you’re working on a continuity book, as I was last month – it saves so much time when you can bounce questions about the continuity characters to other authors in the series. Ditto when talking with fellow romance authors who live thousands of miles away and in different time zones.

In my old rat-race job, back in the late 1980s, part of my work involved liaising with our company’s IT Futures team. Some of the stuff we looked at back then still isn’t quite in the marketplace (which is a shame, as it was deeply cool as well as very useful!). I absolutely loved being part of the electronic marketing team and working with e-commerce, back in the days even before Amazon launched. I was one of the few people in the company allowed to have external email; it was real blue-sky stuff at the time and I loved it.

So, once a workable model is produced, how quickly does new technology actually get taken up by consumers? Forgive me for getting a little technical, here (but hey, I qualified in marketing, so it’s nice to use the theory occasionally!).

Imagine a bell-shaped curve. Within that there are five separate groups of people:

  • the innovators (the people who get all the tecchie stuff right up front – about 2.5% of people, taking up the far left-hand part of the curve)

  • the early adopters (those who aren’t far behind – the next 13.5%)

  • the early majority (aka pragmatists, who might use it when it suits their needs – the lefthand-to-middle section of the curve)

  • late majority (aka conservatives, who avoid technology – the middle-to-righthand section of the curve)

  • the laggards (last ones to try anything new, and usually quite vocal about it – about 10%, heading towards the far right-hand side of the curve)

Technology has always been my big temptation. I can’t resist certain gadgets. And (pre-kids, at least) I was definitely an innovator. Remember those record players in the early 1980s that could play both sides of the LP without you having to turn it over? Yup, I had one. I also owned a PC in the 1980s, in the days when you still had to boot up with a floppy disk and save everything to floppy. (Think how many floppies are equivalent even to a 1GB SD card, now - scary!)

Back in the early 1990s, I had a small mobile phone (most of them were still brick-sized) and a paperback-sized computer (an Olivetti – slightly smaller than an Asus) for writing novels and then transferring them via wifi to my desktop PC. (Nowadays, I have a PDA. It sits in my handbag and contains the current novel on an SD card.)

In the late 1990s, we had a DVD player; and we were one of the first families I know who bought a Wii (and the infamous Wii Fit – which is great fun, and I’ll be talking more about how it can help with writing, next month. Yes, really. Wind down, have fun and WRITE).

The two tecchy things I haven’t embraced yet are Ipods and e-books. Which, for a self-confessed music junkie and a book fiend, is pretty shameful. (My favourite cousin was really shocked about the Ipod. ‘But you always have these sorts of things ages before anyone else does!’ Um. Yes.)

But some of that’s about to change. (Not the Ipod. I’m deaf. If it’s a choice between keeping my hearing aid in so I can pick up most of the frequencies properly and hear what the music is REALLY supposed to sound like, or having earphones in and missing half the frequencies: well, that’s a no-brainer.)

The thing that I’m going to embrace is the e-book. For two reasons. Firstly, I’ve played with a Sony reader now, and it feels like a book in my hand. I like the screen. (And my pal Fiona Harper has one of her Harlequin Romances pre-loaded onto the Sony reader. How cool is that?) Though I should also add that nothing beats the feel and scent of a book, so I’m still going to buy paperbacks. And nice, lush, glossy hardbacks. (Reading is a sensory pleasure. Add music and chocolate, and all five senses are involved.)

And secondly… something very exciting is about to happen to me regarding e-books. I’ve been sitting on this for months, but I’m allowed to talk about it now (although the official publicity won’t be until next month and the official launch date of the book).

My next e-book – Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded – is an enriched edition.

It’s the first Presents to be an enriched edition, so I’m doubly excited about it. It’s something that the late and much-missed Anne Weale talked about years ago – she gave her readers a list of links in her books, to help them ‘see’ her locations and get more from their reading experience.

So what do you get in an enriched e-book? As well as the text of the book, you might get a recipe (you do in mine); photographs (again, as in mine – most of them taken by me, so it’s thrilling to have been part of that); and hyperlinks to sites giving you more information about places or events in the book (there are over 130 hyperlinks in mine – wow, that’s one every two pages, on average… an amazing amount of research).

For me, that’s really adding value. And that’s what will hook me in as a consumer. I should be getting my copy of the book to play with any day now. And I can’t wait!

And now for a question: which technology tempts you, and why?

Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded is available from Harlequin right now (in US shops in January), and is available as an enriched e-book from Harlequin in December and the usual e-book stores in January.

The Greek Doctor’s New Year Baby is out in the UK, US and Australia/NZ in January (available online from Mills & Boon and eHarlequin.au in December, and eHarlequin.com in January).

You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website (http://www.katehardy.com/) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/)


  1. oh...I'm waiting for the wii fit post! we get a wii in a few weeks :)

  2. Jenna, it's fabulous! The one where you can be a penguin catching fish... your boys will just love it. (And so will you!) The hula hoop one is fun. And the step one isn't bad. Oh, and the snowjump. And heading soccer balls (your DH might get competitive about that one).

  3. Fab news about the enriched book, Kate. I remember it being a hobby horse of the much missed Anne Weale.

    My dh is an iPod junkie. He can't read in a car, train, plane, so loves the audio books, films, tv -- and bought himself some fold up headphones that fit into something like a glass case, which are fantastic.

    I'm hankering for an eReader but hanging on for a bit. There seems to be such a surge of technology in that field at the moment that, like a lot of people I suspect, I'm holding fire until it settles down. Hurry UP!!!!

  4. Thanks, Liz.

    Mmm, know what you mean about hanging on - pity they couldn't sort out platforms that work together, isn't it? (But that would be too sensible. Like having a charger that fits ALL mobile phones. Or even all the ones from the same manufacturer...)