Egad! EBooks!

Microsoft has a big catalog of romance e-books up on their site, all in the Microsoft eBook format (.lit). (NOTE: site is getting a LOT of traffic and is slooooow).

Some folks are alleging that the linked files can be had for free, though you do have to get the Microsoft reader to actually read the files themselves. Others attest that there is a fee for each ebook, and links to various locations to purchase the ebook itself. Amazon listed A Knight in Shining Armor at $6.99 for the .lit version. 

I have not had any luck scoring myself a free ebook copy of any of the listed titles. I shall have to keep trying. Mwaahahaha.

That said, I confess myself still largely ignorant of the ebook world.  Anyone know if the featured authors, like Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jude Devereaux, and Elizabeth Lowell gave their OK? Do they even have to have to give their permission to have their books encoded in a vendor-specific ebook format? And what do you ebookies think of the .lit file format itself? A complete flash in the pan, or the beginning of the MS-standard for ebooks in the future?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    jenx10 says:

    I guess i don’t understand this blog post.  This website has been selling ebooks for probably 4 years at least.  There are many formats for ebooks and almost all ebooks are available in ereader format which is cross platform compatible. I don’t think that MS Lit is the standard in the industry.  I do think that the standard used to be Adobe but has since veered toward ereader, Mslit and Mobipocket (prc) formats.

    Except for the dictionaries, I think everything else that is available for “free” from the MS Lit site is actually already available for free from other webistes (i.e., the U of Virginia Library). 

    As for what formats the books are released in, I think that depends on the publisher.  I know that, for example, Erica Orloff’s latest chick lit book was released in MS Lit format but her bombshell book was not.  It was released in Adobe and PRC.  I emailed her and she replied she didn’t know anything about the formats and would contact her editor.  I gathered from what I have read on the internet and other sources is that each author has to give the permission to release the books in ebook format but that does not mean that the author necessarily controls what format it is released in.

    I once called HarperCollins to ask them why certain Avon authors were released in ebook format and why others were not.  The person I spoke to indicated that it was in part a function of labor shortage and in part a function of author permission.  The HC ebook division was, as of last year, was four or five people which meant it could feasibly only put out a certain amount of books a month.  But the other drawback was that some authors refused to be put out in ebook format (piracy fears I guess).  To me, that makes no sense, because the book can be pirated even if it is not released in ebook format and by not putting it out there in that format, you risk losing $$ at all.  But I guess that is a blog for another day?

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    My mistake! The blogs I was reading seemed to indicate this was a big new busting-at-the-seams catalog of badassedness. Unless they were being unclear about the method and were really trying to say that they’d found a way to hack the catalog and get the books for free!

    Good question, though, as to why some authors are given eBook releases and some are not, aside from the author’s own fears of piracy.

    My tangential question is who reads ebooks? What’s the demographic look like, since the sales continue to climb and more publishers are releasing digital publications? Is it a patterned reflection of paper book buyers or is it geared more towards people who commute and carry reader devices, or travelers who have to carry a computer anyway?

    USA Today hinted that it was a supplier fad without a demand to back it up, and when I google “who reads ebooks” and “ebook demographics,” I get similar articles and comments stating that it’s a demographic that doesn’t exist- which I know is not true!

    So perhaps it’s time for a rousing rendition of ‘Sarah, you dumbass!’ wherein you educate me in an area I know little about, and that we’ve touched on in previous discussions.

  3. 3
    jenx10 says:

    I think that with advent of phones that do everything including cook and clean, publishers are trying to capture that audience.  I know that Harlequin decided in May to participate in cell phone content.  They are going to allow you to send in pictures via your phone for cover models and send you serialized novels.  Recently (in October), Harlequin released about 25 books in ebook format.  It was quite a surprise to me and I have been a dedicated ebook reader for years.

    Frankly, I think ebook reading is for any voracious reader.  Most everyone that I have been able to hook up with an ebook reading device and an ebook becomes an instant lover of ebooks.  My neighbor is my most recent convert.  Since purchasing her ebookwise device two weeks ago, she has yet to pick up a paperback but she has read 5 books on the ebook device.

    The problem is that ebook reading, right now, takes a bit of technological savvy.  You have to have the right device and you have to know how to download books to the device and in some cases, how to convert from one format to another.  There is no good centralized location for ebooks other than ereader and if you don’t like ereader format then you are left to hunt and search for the ebooks.  Also troubling is the fact you don’t know what ebooks are going to be released.  For example, Emma Holly’s Catching Midnight was released on October 4th (I think).  There was no notice on the Penguin website of its release as an ebook. I bought the paper version.  One week after its release, CM was released in ebook format.  Sigh.  So there are alot of things that prevent entry into the ebook world.  Right now you have to be dedicated, organized and technologically savvy.  To the ordinary consumer that takes way too much time and effort. 

    I believe that once there is an IPOD AND ITUNES for books, the ebook market will take off much like the digital music world has.

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    As technologically savvy as I like to think I am, it did not occur to me that iTunes would ever house ebooks, nor that the iPod would be configured with a screen for reading – but with the arrival of the video iPod, you are totally on to something. That would be a fascinating development, especially since audio books on the iPod are a huge commodity.

    But to put the onus on the consumer to find ebooks as in the current market climate? That sucks.

    So tell me: what does your neighbor like better about the ebook reader vs. paperbacks? And what about you?

    Anyone, feel free to chime in on “What I like about eBooks.” I’ve never been able to get into them, but then, I tried to read a book on my Handspring Visor a few years ago and damn near went blind from squinting at the itty bitty text.

  5. 5

    E-Books are old; I worked for the Voyager company in 1992, where we made well over a hundred e-books for the Mac. The .lit format is Microsoft’s own, and can only be read on Windows devices, or a small number of hand helds running a similar OS.
    Palm has been selling nicely done, easy to use e-books since 2000—they can be read on Macs or Windows, or most Palm OS devices, using a special reader.

    I buy e-books to read on my lap top, or handheld when I’m traveling or working away from home. I often buy the same book in two formats—since I teach literature classes, e-books can be very useful. I also make them available to students who wish to use them.

    The rights issue is tricky—although I’m less than fond of DRM (Digital Rights Management) because it can be awkward to use or backup a book I’ve paid for, I very much respect authors’ and rights holders’ rights. I want people to be paid.

    Most contracts now have something in them about “electronic rights”—and they can be very specific. Unless someone goofed, authors get royalties.

  6. 6
    Angela H says:

    I don’t have any ebook device other than my laptop which is where I download them and read them using Microsoft Reader.  The only outlets I’ve purchased ebooks from have been Ellora’s Cave and  I like the Microsoft Reader format but I admit reading from the laptop isn’t exactly convenient.  But then again, I only read them at home and the ebooks I’m reading are romantica/erotica so it’s not like I want the whole world to know anyway, particularly with those godawful covers.  And, most of the titles from places like EC and looseid are not available in print, at least not when they are first released.

  7. 7
    jenx10 says:

    I guess what I meant by ITUNES/IPODS was that there had to be an elegant and useable device PAIRED with an easy to use ebook store.  I don’t think that exists yet.  For example, Fictionwise does not get many new releases until at least a week after the release date, if not longer. So if you own a ebookwise reader, you must wait extra time to be able to read the latest and greatest.  That is certainly no fun.

    Further, as I mentioned before, not all books are released in all formats. Something I find incredibly irksome and frustrating. 

    As for what I and my neighbor like about ebooks:  portability.  I travel and with my ebook reader I can take literally thousands of books with me.  In fact, if my entire library were digital I would be able to take my entire library with me on a tiny memory card that is little bigger than a quarter.  I read as I stand in line to get coffee, lunch, checkout.  I read in the doctor’s waiting room.  I can read any book I want, anywhere I want.  Have a boring meeting?  Whip out my handheld and read a few pages.

    I often think my DH is my best convert.  He did not want to go digital until I made him read one book on it.  That was over a year ago and he hasn’t picked up a paperbook since.  We used to have nighttime reading issues.  The bedside lamp was too bright for the one who wanted to go to sleep.  The booklights kept running out of batteries or falling off the books.  A backlit ereading device was perfect for us. 

    As for DRM, I personally hate it.  I want the authors to get their royalties but not at the expense of me losing my right to the book through some technilogical snafu as happened to me in the early 2000s with a computer crash and my stupidity in buying the Adobe format. 

    But perhaps best of all, for you man titty averse readers out there, there are no lurid covers to be furtively covering during a public reading session because no one but you knows what you are reading on your ereader!

  8. 8
    Kerry says:

    I live at the bottom of the world and for me, the great advantage of ebooks is that I only have to pay the cost of the book, not the outrageous shipping costs to get paper books to me.

    My bit of the bottom of the world in New Zealand, where we are in the UK publishing zone, so many, many books released in the US never reach our stores unless the store imports directly which puts the prices up.

    Let me zip around the internet and work out a few prices.

    Let’s say there’s a book I want to buy for $6.99.

    If I buy it from Amazon and have it shipped to New Zealand it will cost me US$23.97 (and that’s for 7 to 23 days delivery).  You have got to be kidding!

    If I buy it locally (assuming my shop can get it), it’ll usually cost be about NZ$22, which works out at US$15.50 and I have to get it sent out to me for extra cost or drive right across the city to pick it up.

    It I buy the ebook, it’ll cost me US$6.99 (or a bit less if they’re having a special deal) and I can have it on my computer in minutes.

    I’m a recent convert to ebooks since I got a PDA and can read them on that, but now that I can I’ll be doing it more and more, especially for books I’m not too sure if I will like.

    I love printed books and feel a bit sad and guilty turning away from them, but the cost is going to turn out to be the bottom line I think.

  9. 9
    Laura Kinsale says:

    Call me a cynic, my experience is that e-format is not doing well at all in sales.  I don’t like having my books digitized, though I have allowed it in certain cases for personal reasons I won’t go into here. I’m really pissed off about the google thing (GO Authors Guild!  I hope they sue the pants off Google.)  If you score any free e-copies of my books, Candy, please let me know because if you do, you evil child, then they’re illegal.  I work WAY too bloody hard to have Google and script kiddies running around yelling “Information wants to be free!” and claiming I’m the bad guy cause they have the right to just take my work whenever they please. The same goes for any author who doesn’t give their specific permission for their works to be copied. 

    Man, don’t get me started on this topic.  You think you guys can cuss. :p

  10. 10
    Laura Kinsale says:

    Ah, sorry I see it was Sarah not Candy.  Either way, let me know if you can get it free cause you should NOT be able to do so.

  11. 11
    SB Sarah says:

    Ms. Kinsale, ma’am, I will certainly let you know if I find a way to hack the ebook catalog. Because I have learned two things doing this site: do not ever piss off a romance author, and do not ever piss off a romance author. (And also, how hard authors work to not only WRITE the dang book but then navigate the publishing maze to get it published to make it worth their effort in the first place.)

    No worries. If I find a hole, I’ll let the world know! That information, it does not need to be free.

  12. 12
    Candy says:

    No fear about me pirating books, or even attempting to download e-books for free. I don’t have an e-book reader and reading on my computer is fairly uncomfortable (though improved ever since I bought myself a proper office chair), and given the massive amounts of paper books I own, I’m not about to make the switch any time soon.

    But in terms of having an opinion about making the text of a book searchable, I think my opinion comes closest to John Scalzi’s as expressed in his provocatively-titled “The Stupidity of Worrying About Piracy”. I especially like these two paragraphs:

    Let’s ask: Who are pirates? They are people who won’t pay for things (i.e., dickheads), or they’re people who can’t pay for things (i.e., cash-strapped college students and others). The dickheads have ever been with us; they wouldn’t pay even if they had the money. I don’t worry about them, I just hope they fall down an abandoned well, break their legs and die of gangrene after several excruciatingly painful days of misery and dehydration, and then I hope the rats chew the marrow from their bones and shit back down the hollows. And that’s that for them.

    As for the people who can’t pay for things, well, look. I grew up poor and made music tapes off the radio; my entire music collection from ages 11 to 14 consisted of tapes that had songs missing their first ten seconds and whose final ten seconds had DJ chatter on them; from 14 to 18, I taped off my friends; from 18 to 22 I reviewed music so I could get it for free. And then after that, once I had money, I bought my music. Because I could. As for books, I bought secondhand paperbacks through my teen and college years. Now I buy hardbacks. Again, because I can. Now, being a writer, you can argue that I’m more self-interested in paying for creative work than others, but I have to honestly say that I don’t know anyone who can pay for a book or a CD or a DVD or whatever who doesn’t, far more often than not.

  13. 13
    Candy says:

    Forgot add, Booksquare has posted a series of entries on the Google issue as well:

    “More On The Exciting World of Copyright”

    “File Under: Lawsuits Versus Manna”

    “One Publisher Speaks in the Wilderness”

    “Talking Up The Fear Factor”

    “And Then There’s This”

    “What, Exactly, is a Library?”

    I think I’ve caught all of them. Kassia, if you’re reading this, did I miss any that are pertinent to the topic?

  14. 14
    Jay says:

    I didn’t think I would like ebooks not only because I’m the type of reader that skims but also because there’s something really gratifying about being surrounded by physical books that you’ve either loved or can’t wait to read.

    That said though, I’ve found I do enjoy ebooks. The portability factor was important to me, and I like knowing that no matter what I might feel like reading, chances are I have a book on my SD card that will satisfy that urge.

    Out of all the formats though, I have no love for .lit. I know it’s supposed to look like a book but it just annoys me, and it does nothing to aid me in my quest for books that can be taken with me. .lit files only work on a computer or a windows-based pda, which I dont have.

    Sarah, do you remember what program you were using while trying to read the book with the itty bitty print? A lot of the pda readers out now come with the option to enlarge the text. And autoscroll. I love autoscroll.

  15. 15
    Anna says:

    I live at the bottom of the world and for me, the great advantage of ebooks is that I only have to pay the cost of the book, not the outrageous shipping costs to get paper books to me.

    That’s the appeal of e-books for me, too – although I’m in Ireland, which isn’t as far or as expensive for US book orders. Since I discovered this fine site a few weeks ago I’ve been working back through the archives, and discovering some books I’d like to try – and that really means ordering from Amazon, because the romance genre basically doesn’t exist in UK publishing (and while we’re not in the UK or indeed the Commonwealth, we’re in its publishing territory). I really want to try Julia Quinn – I like smart, funny escapist historical books, and what I read here and on her website looks good. But if I order a book and I don’t like it, I’ll have waited a week for it and I’ll payed a shitload of postage. So in theory it makes more sense when sampling a new author to try an e-book.

    However! Amazon are no longer selling e-books to non-US customers, and as a Mac user, it’s increasingly hard to find non-Microsoft reader books. Also, if I’m being honest with myself, even if I do find Mac-friendly books, how likely am I to sit there at my iBook and read the entire thing? I don’t have a handheld device, and that makes all the difference – I read in bed, or at the kitchen table, or on the bus, or just sprawled on the couch, but never at my desk. So until I get a handheld ebook reader – or a PC, and that’s just not going to happen – e-books will probably remain an impossible ideal for me. Bah!

  16. 16

    As an author whose books are all available in ebook format, I have to say I like having the option of ebooks available to my readers.  Those people who buy my books in ebook format tend to be under 35 years old and like the ease of reading a variety of books off their PDA’s or laptops.

    I buy ebooks when it’s something I’m interested in reading, but 99% sure I don’t want to keep.  The ebook is cheaper than the print version and better for the environment.  I also like ebooks when I’m traveling with my laptop because I don’t have to add the weight of books to my luggage or carry-on. 

    The ideal audience for ebooks are students.  When my boys were younger they looked like turtles, hobbling out of the house each day with their outdated textbooks weighing them down.  If there was a cheap, portable ebook reader, about the size of a trade paperback, that was water resistent and could stand a drop from about five feet, the ebook market would take off. Textbooks could be downloaded and updated each semester, and it would save millions for school systems.

    The other audience for ebooks, if we get that cheap reader, is aging Baby Boomers.  As we age and our eyesight becomes more problematic, being able to adjust the font size and lighting on an ebook would be a vast improvement over current technology—large print and reading glasses.

    I love the feel and smell of real books, but I believe the ebook is going to grow and take over, especially in the highly disposable reading of genre literature—mysteries, westerns, horror, and of course, romance.

  17. 17
    Kerry (no, not that Kerry, the other Kerry) says:

    I’m delighted to have access to e-books, but I think it will be a long while before they replace paperbacks etc. in my affections.  Let me note that the only e-books I read right now are SciFi/Fantasy I download free from Baen’s Free Library (check it out if you like that genre; you’ll generally get first-in-series and older books, but there are some good authors and good books on the list).  I keep a couple loaded onto my PDA so I can always have a book handy when I need one. 

    I like the portability and enviro-friendliness of the virtual book; I don’t like the limited amount of text on the screen or the incessant scrolling.  The backlit text is still a little hard on my eyes, and I don’t find the PDA as comfortable to sit in bed with as a “real” book.  Besides, if I did that, I’d wind up leaving the PDA at home instead of returning it to my briefcase in the morning—so I wouldn’t have the book with me when I really needed it.  Not to mention all the other stuff I need.  The upshot is that, if I get so caught up in an e-book that I can’t put it down, I often wind up buying the damned thing anyway :)

    I’m pretty sure textbook publishers have been working on the e-text for quite a while.  But there are several issues that will take some work to resolve.  First, it will take a pretty sophisticated and good-sized reader to allow you to view non-facing pages simultaneously (you know, that thing where you open the book at two places at once and compare the figures or text or whatever).  Second, I don’t see how the cost of developing a text will change (and it’s really expensive for the good books with elaborate art programs), so the price of the books (or individual downloads thereof) will still have to cover those costs. 

    On the plus side, if the total cost per unit is less because they don’t actually have to be printed, the profit margin per unit might be higher, which could help with price.  And I could see that a good reader might include features allowing kids to adjust text size, color, amount of text visible at a time, etc., which could allow an individual e-book to accomodate a wide range of, e.g., vision impairments, learning styles, learning disabilities, etc.  But it’s hard to envision doing all this with a small reading device.

    Ah, the things we have to look forward to! (Or is that “to which we have forward to look”, if we’re being grammatically correct?  Or maybe “To whyche we forwarde wille be lookyinge”???)

  18. 18
    Book Mom says:

    I love regular books, but let’s face it, e-books require little physical space. They are portable, adjustable, environmentally friendly, and where else can you buy a book at 3am in the morning, have it within minutes and never have left your home? On the other hand, you DO have to be tech savvy to download the books and to know which format you would prefer. Also, certain new books take ages to become availale in e-book format and if the book was released as a hardback, the price you pay for the e-book is very close to the price you would have paid for the hardback itself. I believe e-books will exist along regular books until our culture itself is more accepting of it’s use as a primary tool.

  19. 19
    Katy says:

    I didn’t know much about ebooks until reading all this, but I also have a Mac, so that pretty much makes them impossible.  Also, until they get rid of the headache that accompanies extended use of computer-type screens, I won’t be able to use it.  I can appreciate the portability of ebooks, but I must say, I adore paper books.  I have read stuff on the free library online, and then gone and gotten it in paper half-way through the book.  It is a good way to preview some one’s writing.

  20. 20
    Miki says:

    Today I was reading a tattered library paperback during my lunch hour at work, and two different people stopped and asked me where my “reader-thingy” was.  I hadn’t realized it was so noticable.

    I love ebooks.  Love ‘em, love ‘em, love ‘em.

    Yes, they’re portable.  If I just finished a book last night and still don’t know what I’m in the mood for in the morning, the memory card in my eBookwise or PDA can hold LOTS of selections.  I can decide on the fly what I want to start today.  And, if it turns out it’s not so hot, I can set it aside and start reading something else – immediately.

    I live in an apartment that measures 428 sq ft.  I am a voracious reader.  Needless to say, I live amongst stacks and stacks of books!  So ebooks are a very real sanity saver.

    I tend to read in stops and starts these days.  So, especially when I’m reading suspense or romantic suspense, I lose track of details.  So…I remember something about that candlestick coming up before?  I can do a search and immediately find all the references of that word.  Woo-hoo!  And when I’m talking online with friends about a particular favorite series and we’re arguing about whether secondary character 654 has blue eyes or brown, I can find details in a hurry.

    And I fully agree with the reader who mentioned no longer having to be embarrassed by romance book covers – especially since I sometimes enjoy futuristics and paranormals, which seem to delight in cheesy, embarrassing covers.

    What I wouldn’t agree with is the person who said ebooks are less expensive than print.  That’s only true if you’re buying your print books in hardback or full-price at Barnes & Noble (or out of the US, per some of the other comments here).  Since many of my paperbacks are impulse buys at Wal-Mart or Target – or from the local used book store, print books are almost always cheaper for me.  Independent epublishers prices may look cheaper, but the book lengths between most of those and most print books just don’t compare (and I’m anal retentive enough to have done a rather detailed comparison between my mainstream published ebooks and my independently published ebooks).

    I also dislike that I can’t legally lend ebooks to the same friends I share paperbacks with.  I can read a paperback a day, given the right conditions, so it’s an expensive habit to support.  So there are books I’ve borrowed from the library, just so I can pass it on and discuss it with my “reader’s circle” at work.  I might have taken a chance and bought those books if I could have the same freedom with them as I do print books.

    My last frustration would be with the myriad formats available.  Some are tied to the HARDWARE, so to the software.  Microsoft’s software must be “activated” first (Big Brother is always watching).  Mobipocket’s ID number must be registered on the sites you buy books from (as does Adobe’s).  Palm (oops, eReader) books require you to enter your credit card number to open the book the first time (which at least allows the book to be read on ANY machine I happen to in front of, as long as I’ve got the eReader software installed on it).  As another poster mentioned, DRM sucks.  I understand the reason for it, but it just sucks.

  21. 21

    Ok, here we go again.
    1. Ebooks are the only growth market in fiction. Last year sales reached 500,000, next year expected to reach 1 million, and still growing (figures courtesy of EPIC).
    2. Ebooks are not expected to replace paper books (what paranoid person thought that one up?) They are an alternative. It adds to reader choice.
    3. I live in the UK, so I have the same problems as the NZ poster. We don’t have American authored romances available in the bookshops, and Amazon apart (and Amazon is putting up its prices), postage and packing takes forever and costs a fortune. So ebooks are, for me, the way to go.
    4. Ebooks are about half the price of the average UK paperback.
    5. With my reader (I use a Palm), I can adjust the print to the size I want, read anywhere and read in the dark (important to this insomniac).
    6. Even with my old Palm, I can carry about 20 books around with me. With the newer Palms, you can carry your whole library, and have backups at home.
    7. I can get the book I want, on the day I want it, even when the shops are closed, and (miracle of miracles) the book is stocked.
    8. The Palm is easier to hold (I read a hardback recently – it took a very long time because it isn’t portable like the Palm), and carry around.
    9. Ebook clauses are now a common part of a book contract. The same book is usually available in eform and print format. No difference apart from the medium.
    10. Ebooks have searchable text, great for textbook users.
    11. Ebooks are a lot easier on shelf space! My house is full, I don’t know about yours!

    And a personal note – I read ‘em, I write ‘em. I’ve been writing them for a while, and there has been a definite increase in my royalty cheques over the last 12 months. Getting your book e-published is no longer the easy alternative to print, as the larger and better publishers have slush piles as big as those in New York, although there are some smaller publishers with slots still available.
    Look for the publishers with award winning authors, the ones who have good websites, the ones with extensive extracts so you can read before you buy. Most authors also have lengthy extracts on their websites.
    The readership for ebooks tends to be younger as you might expect when technology is involved), but that may change, especially now Harlequin has entered the market (announced a couple of weeks ago).
    And if you want to support the starving author – remember the author gets around 10% of the cover price of a print book, and at least 30% of an ebook.

  22. 22

    I have to comment on this:

    “the book lengths between most of those and most print books just don’t compare (and I’m anal retentive enough to have done a rather detailed comparison between my mainstream published ebooks and my independently published ebooks).”

    If you go by word count, ebooks and paperbacks are more or less the same size. The page size of the ebook is computer page, A4 size, about 450 words to the page, and the paperback has considerably less (industry standard says 250 words per page). So a 200 page ebook would be a 360 page paperback.

  23. 23

    As a non ebook reading person, and someone whose laptop doesn’t allow downloads off t’internet (curse you, evil IT dept and your pesky permissions), what’s the cheapest and easiest way to try this nifty thing out? Despite my inherent luddite tendancies until a technology is rammed down my throat, all your comments have me very intrigued.

  24. 24
    jenx10 says:

    I think the cheapest way to get into this market is to buy a used PDA on EBAY.  You can pick up an old Palm or Handspring Visor that can run ereader or mobipocket or a pocketpc device that can read native htmls, lits, ereader, mobipocket.  Or, you can spring for the Ebookwise Librarion which runs $100 from an EBAY seller.  This reads “rb” formatted books as well as rtf, htmls, and a few other formats.  My neighbor bought the ebookwise librarian and loves it.  I find it a bit too bulky and love my Pocket PC.  Other devices that can read books is the IPOD and the Playstation Portable.

    If you balk at the cost, think of this.  How much do bookcases cost?  Even cheap ones at Target run about $100.00

    If you like your device and the screen is too small, you only have a small amount invested.  You can sell your device and buy another.  I dont’ think you can get a good feeling whether you will like ebook reading unless you have one to try out for about a week so going to a store and trying to decide whether you like it isn’t likely a good test.

  25. 25

    Thanks for the advice, jenx10. Consider me a potential convert…

  26. 26

    “I think the cheapest way to get into this market is to buy a used PDA on EBAY.”

    That’s exactly what I did. Very cheap, because the geeks want all the fancy bells and whistles, and sell their old ones off. I wanted to try it out first, and I’m still using the Palm VX I got for less than £10 (including postage!)
    You need the pda and its OS, which should come ready installed, the cradle or connector cable (to hook it up to your computer) and that’s about it. The software you need is free and downloadable from the Palm website.

  27. 27

    Thank you too, Lynne. £10’s less than some books these days (woo-hoo!). Nice to know it’s possible to sort something out so cheaply over here.

    Darling technically-gifted-brother-who-occasionally-lurks-here-but-who-could-never-be-considered-a-geek (your gf’s mother did mean well when she described you as such to her ex, really) if you’re reading this, remember our little conversation about Christmas presents???

  28. 28
    Miki says:

    Lynne said:

    I have to comment on this:

    “the book lengths between most of those and most print books just don’t compare (and I’m anal retentive enough to have done a rather detailed comparison between my mainstream published ebooks and my independently published ebooks).”

    If you go by word count, ebooks and paperbacks are more or less the same size. The page size of the ebook is computer page, A4 size, about 450 words to the page, and the paperback has considerably less (industry standard says 250 words per page). So a 200 page ebook would be a 360 page paperback.

    Lynne, you write wonderfully detailed and long ebooks that are definitely worth the price.  But my comparison *was* done based on word counts, not page counts.  I buy both mainstream and independently published ebooks, and used the same reader program to do the comparison in. 

    Some independently published ebooks are long.  Some mainstream ebooks are short (and deceptively appear the same length as their longer companions in the print versions).  But – based on my admittedly unscientific comparison of the few hundred ebooks I owned at the time – independently published ebooks *averaged* around 50,000+ words (versus an average of 100,000+ words for the mainstream ebooks).

    That length is fine.  But when it comes to pricing, it means that I figure the ebooks should be priced to compare to category romance, not mainstream print books.

    And, just for the record, when I say “print” or “mainstream” books, I’m referring to the pricing of the Mass Market Paperbacks.  I think the “new and improved” paperbacks and the trade-sized paperbacks are both ways to dupe buyers out of a few extra dollars.

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