Ebooks, eBooks nom nom nom

If you get your books digital…

Gimme an E or I’ll…

OK, clearly my cold-medicine addled brain is not going to come up with something clever, but a recent kerfuffle online has revealed a rather interesting facet of the eBook revolution: once a devoted, glomming reader (such as myself) is introduced to the power and ease of the eBook, going back to paper is not as satisfactory.

It’s true. I know there are some die-hard paper-lovin’ folks out there, and I’m not knocking your preference, but I know that once I got hooked on having the Kindle-Ade with me all the time, with unlimited books at my fingertips, to say nothing of the wirelessly connected bookstore, carrying around a paper book seems so… heavy. And limiting.

Seems I’m not the only one who got herself hooked on the savvy, sexy ease of the e and wants more more more: Chris Meadows at the Teleread blog gives a synopsis of a kerfuffle at Tor‘s site/blog. Tor hyped the launch of their upcoming site with free ebooks. Oh, delicious free ebooks, how I love thee.

Trouble is, when Tor launched their new site, there weren’t ebooks for sale. Some are available for the Kindle, but not all. The free books Tor had offered were often the first of a series, and there were a few vocal readers who were upset because they’d had a gulp of the sexy, sultry beverage that is ebooks, and they wanted to read the rest of the series in digital form. Tor doesn’t have much in the way of ebook offerings for those series, and folks are much disgruntled. Meadows’ gripe with Tor rests partially on frustration with Tor’s decision to pimp the ebooks without having the follow up novels ready in digital form, and partially on his personal frustration with Tor’s response to the online complaints.

It looks like Tor generated a heaping pile of interest in its ebooks, and at present isn’t able to fulfill the demand of that interest. Tor gave away ebooks to generate interest in their site and while plenty of the comments at that thread are thankful and giddy over the new books and new authors and new reading material oh glee, plenty more are not as into the idea of a new site as they are into the idea of the next book in the series in digital form… which isn’t necessarily available. So customers who sampled the series and are content with paper are happy. Customers who sampled the series and are curious about the publisher’s blog-format website are happy. But customers who sampled a series as an ebook and want to continue reading digitally are not happy. Commence comment flaming, general use of exclamation points and italics, requests that folks get thicker skin, and rogue flouncing.

Kerfuffle aside, I’m curious as to whether it’s a relatively small phenomenon, this cracktastic element to the ebook. Have you made the switch? Do you want all publishers to issue ebooks (oh, behold the wisdom of the Harlequin. Tor, seriously, take a look at the Harlequin. Take a goooood loooooong digital look. All books digital = MAJOR YUM of AWESOME SAUCE. Srsly.) and are they your preferred media for reading material?

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  1. 1
    Linnea says:

    I am a voracious reader who recently made the switch to a Kindle and I could never have predicted how much I would fall in love with it.  I do prefer reading books on it now to reading paperbacks—it’s amazing.

  2. 2
    joykenn says:

    First, I don’t have a Kindle so I haven’t fully experienced the fully gulp of the sexy, sultry ebook experience.  I’ve sipped a bit with my PDA but its small screen doesn’t offer the full favor and depth of a larger ereader.  BUT, I have discovered audiobooks!  Not a substitute for “reading” but a whole differet experience and I WON”T GIVE IT UP! 

    When I’m driving or folding clothes or knitting or doing something else that requires I be looking at something else but not really concentrating on it, an audiobook is AWESOME.  It’s a different experience than actual reading but brings new shadings of experience.  For example, I like La Nora’s JD Robb mystery romances.  Thought I’ve read them all, most multiple times, the reader of this series is adept at creating the nuances of character and emotion in the books.  She acts the characters out.  Instead of “hearing” the book in my head in my own voice, I get the skilled voice and portrayal of the actress reading the novel.  I hear it in a different way and enjoy it in a different way.  It’s hard to explain but a rich and different way of “reading”. 

    And, like a lot of folks I WANT IT ALL!  I want to read the book myself, imagine its setting, characters and plot twists AND I want to hear it acted out as well.  Given that my bookshelves are overflowing and I’m having difficulty finding books when I want to re-read them, I want the easy ability to carry them all around in a handy device. I also want that device to work a little better than it does not—allow me to download books from the library for a limited time, allow me to download audiobooks and listen to them and allow me to check audiobooks out from the library and listen to them.  The exclusivity of the Kindle is offputting, it has major design flaws and I WANT IT ALL.  Now if we all just wish really hard and believe maybe Tinkerbell—wrong story, right idea—maybe the next generation of Kindle or a rival device will have both audio and ebook capability.  If we only believe!

  3. 3
    Kaite says:

    I am quite the talented migraineur, so I can’t do ebooks at all. Hell, I can hardly take the screen at work for the full 8 hours I have to, why would I want to go stare at some backlit nonsense when I got home?

    No, I must have my paper. If publishers ever went all ebook (which I doubt will ever happen—there are a) too many formats in ebook and people get some kind of confused by too many choices, b) readers are a traditional lot, always have been, always will be, which is why fonts and books have remained practically the same for the past…millennia?Although I’m sure there was some shouting when they moved from scrolls to flat, bound books and c) some twisted, sick people like me love the scent of the binder’s glue and ink just too much to let it go) I would have to have a format that I could print.

    Too much damn eye strain otherwise.

  4. 4
    Sandia says:

    Since I got my Kindle, 95% of my reading has been done on it.  Reading real books from the library has become weird, especially new hardcover books.  They’re just so …. large…. I had just finished reading Acheron on my Kindle and walked into the library and saw they had Acheron.  It was HUGE…. I was so glad I didn’t have to schlep that around for 3 days.  I love my Kindle – I’m just crossing my fingers that v2 will have a slightly larger screen. 

    I do agree with all the fussmakers about the Tor books in a series where they’re only offering the first one.  There are 2 books where I wanted to go out and buy book 2 right away – but since I wasn’t able to, I don’t know if I’ll still want to buy it if it’s many many months down the line….. I think Tor’s missing out on a lot of opportunities.

    And I don’t understand publishers who have most of a series in e-published format.  I just finished Stephanie Rowe’s first book in her Immortally Sexy series.  Book 1, 3, 4 are all available – what happened to book 2???  Things like that just bug me…. But when a series of books are available and I love the first one, I’m much inclined to buy all the rest of the series immediately on my Kindle…. lots of impulse spending which is bad for my pocketbook!  I’m afraid to add up exactly how much money I’ve spent on my Kindle since I’ve gotten it…. It’s horrible…. All that one click buying…. it’s like it’s not real money…….

  5. 5
    Sandia says:

    Kaite – on the topic of eyestrain and the new e-ink technology that’s used for the Sony reader and Kindle…

    These new readers are not backlit at all, that’s why they are still somewhat expensive.  This new technology reads like paper and there is no eye strain.  I highly recommend seeing it in person first…. go to a Sony store or Borders to see the Sony reader in person.  Amazon had a “see a Kindle in you city” thing going on, but I don’t know if it’s still happening.  The e-ink technology looks like black ink on gray paper.  The first time I saw the technolgy I thought I was looking at a fake sample because it looked just like paper!

  6. 6
    Lovecow2000 says:

    Sigh,  I haven’t gotten an eReader yet as the one I lust for is too, too expensive.  I have, however, discovered BooksonBoard and enjoy reading from my laptop. In the past month, I think I’ve gotten more books for download than in paper. It works for me and satisfies my need for immediate gratification.  Now if only one could flip through books more easily (though skimming is much easier).

    Also, I’m an addict of audio books too. Ahh, sweet audible.com.

  7. 7
    Barbara says:

    Since I drank the Kindle Aid, there’s no going back. I love the ability to have more than a dozen books at my fingertips. It’s so lightweight that it’s easy to carry it anywhere.

  8. 8
    Rinda says:

    I’m easy.  I got the free ebooks off the Tor site.  Haven’t had a chance to read them, but if I love them, I’ll go buy the paperbacks in the series.  I go both ways. ;)

  9. 9
    SonomaLass says:

    I have downloaded all the freeeebooks I can find (Tor, Baen, et cetera), but only for my laptop.  I won’t invest in a reader until the format issues are a little more settled.  I’ve had no problem with going back and forth, although I do tend to read longer in paper than I do on the screen—more comfy to curl up with.  I liked several of the Tor books and immediately got the next in the series, either from the bookstore or the library, depending on age and availabiity.  It didn’t bother me at all that they weren’t available as ebooks (who am I kidding, I didn’t even check).

    For me, ebooks are okay if that’s the only way a title I want is available, but it hasn’t become my preference by any means.  If I had a sexy little device, that might change.  If that sexy little device was connected to an online bookstore, I would be in VERY BIG TROUBLE.  So best not.

    Rinda, I highly recommend the Kage Baker, C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, and Brandon Sanderson books from the Tor list.  Those are the ones I have really liked so far.

  10. 10
    Madd says:

    If I had a kindle I’d probably be hauling it everywhere and loading it to the metaphorical brim with e-books, but I’d still have to buy hardcopy. I love books. The having and the holding of them. The smell of ink and paper. If I’d thought of it when I was younger, I’d be a librarian right now. I have shelves full of books and more in storage because I have no room for them. I’m the only person I know of who would cut school and spend the day in the public library. I couldn’t see my life without books.

  11. 11
    HeatherK says:

    I have numerous medical conditions that cause me a great deal of pain. The last paperback I read made my hands and wrists hurt for a week. I’ve read numerous books on my ebook reader and haven’t had that problem, so medically speaking, the ebooks are better for me. I love my reader and am eagerly awaiting the time when I can get a newer, updated device with a larger screen.

    I only buy paper books of my absolute fave authors. All esle are ebook, if I can find them and they aren’t overly pricey.

  12. 12
    Amanda says:

    I’m waiting for the second version of Kindle to come out, and then I’ll buy it as a “gift” for my husband. :P

    I want it all. I love audiobooks for travel—whenever we load up the kids in the car for a 12 hour trip, I make sure that my audiobooks are on my iPod. I love the feel and smell and all that wonderful goodness that is a paperback, to curl up with in bed before sleep or while I’m nursing my son. I want the ebooks for ease of travel and being on the go.

    Personally, I don’t understand why publishers don’t have all their books in e-formats. It seriously can’t take that long to get one into the appropriate format(s), and it would be good publicity. I just feel like there must be some reason I’m missing for all books not to be available in e-formats.

  13. 13
    Linsey says:

    I have not drank the Kindle Kool-aid or any of the other e-reader beverages of choice, but I do tend to read a lot of ebooks on my laptop. It’s not the most ideal situation (being that said laptop is much, much bigger than a paperback), but I’m much more likely to give a new to me author a chance or to glom onto a backlist without much thought if it is available in ebook form. Just last night I finished rereading Nalini Singh’s last book (in paperback), and realized that I wanted to go back and read the entire series to gear up for her new novel coming out. Much to my dismay, Nalini’s first two books in her Psy/Changling series do not appear to be available in ebook form. Powells has them available used—which is probably the format I’ll pick them up in—but that cuts the author out of the profit. Had there been ebooks, I would have snapped both of them up last night.

    In fact, I’ve realized that I’m much more likely to impusively buy the ebook version of something if I’m not sure it will be a “keeper.” This allows me to try out new authors without paying the full cost of a paperback. It also allows me the ability to just erase the file if the book was a DNF, negating the chance of it lying around on my bookshelves forever taking up space.

  14. 14
    asdfg says:

    Can you back the books up on Kindle to CD’s? How do you get rid of books on the Kindle?

  15. 15
    Mina says:

    HeatherK: I have numerous medical conditions that cause me a great deal of pain. The last paperback I read made my hands and wrists hurt for a week.

    I have the same problem with my wrists and hands. I love the ease of the Kindle. I think the screen size is just perfect, though. Any bigger and I might have some eye strain from having to read too much per page.

    I used to buy paperbacks or get the freebies from the library, but they just sit on shelves or in boxes. With my Kindle I can re-read favorites or move older books to the virtual shelf to make room for new books.

    I do wish that more books were available as ebooks. If I never had to buy another paper book again I’d be in heaven.

  16. 16
    tammy says:

    I love ebooks.  I read off my smartphone – htc mogul.  Has a larger screen than the average phone (screen size comparable to the iphone maybe?) I’ve thought about a sony or kindle reader, but I like having just one device to remember to grab.  I’m forgetful, disorganized, and I carry v. small purses.  I can’t believe how much I like it.  The easy internet wireless download is wonderful.  LOVE it.  I still buy paperback or trade paperback in books that I KNOW that I will re-read, or that of favorite authors.  Other than that, considering the tripe that I love – some of it really is throwaway fiction, but I enjoy it all – ebooks are perfect for 90% of my reading needs.

  17. 17
    chrocs says:

    When you live outside the US and the shipping costs are higher than the book price and the delivery time can vary from one to six weeks and you just can’t wait to start reading the new installment on a series, you find out that suddenly you reaaaally like that small screen.

    Plus, traveling with just and ipod and a reader is so much more practical than carrying around 10 cds and 3 or 4 paperbacks. Now the heaviest thing in my backpack is my empty wallet.

  18. 18

    I’ve got my Cybook for nine months now and I love it, love it, love it! If possible, I do all my fun reading on the Cybook: I like the instant gratification of downloading a book directly after buying it; thanks to current Dollar-to-Euro conversion rate, e-books are much cheaper than paper books for me; and last but not least, e-books don’t take any shelf space. BIG advantage! So I’m rather disgruntled, too, if I can’t get a digital copy of a book.

  19. 19
    Peaches says:

    I don’t have a kindle, but after years and years of reading fanfiction online I admit I do find it a bit annoying that whatever book I’m reading isn’t available by maximizing my browser.  Also, sometimes when I’m reading a book, I start thinking “I wish I could just scroll instead of turning pages.”  I feel kind of ridiculous about it though.

  20. 20

    In this one thing, I’ve remained a traditionalist.  I love my books.  Maybe when the readers get cheaper, I will try it out.  But I’ve tried palm pilot’s, texting, and a few other new-fangeldy gadgets the young’uns are flashing about these days…I’ve just never caught on.

    Sheesh!  I’m not old, FFS.

  21. 21
    KG says:

    I love books while I’m reading them…and then, what do I do with it? I don’t like the clutter of paperbacks all over bookshelves and my nightstand and in drawers…yes, I have stuffed books in drawers. I am not a person who holds on to a book once I’ve read it. I want something new. I don’t re-read stuff…maybe just the best of the best, which amounts to less than 20 books…besides reference-type books.

    So, a Kindle or other e-reader is a serious want right now. I’m not so worried about ‘universal format’ as e-books tend to be sold in multiple formats. As long as the e-reader can also display PDF format, I’m cool.

    Waiting for the prices to come down or my financial situation to go up…or both!

  22. 22
    ev says:

    And, like a lot of folks I WANT IT ALL!

    I have to agree. It is the only reason I have put off buying one.  I want something that does so much more.

    I also love my audios- usually of books I have already read and loved. I love the nuances that I may miss in reading.

    I have numerous medical conditions that cause me a great deal of pain.

    that’s why hubby bought one. He could no longer hold a book for any length of time without being in pain. Now he won’t get his ass out of the chair when he gets home except to eat. Sometimes.

    I really do want to find one that does it all.

    And just how do you save a book once you have read it and want to keep it, but not on the device?

  23. 23
    DS says:

    Oh, yes, I drank the Kindle ade.  I also visited TOR’s website soon after it was open and was disappointed that they were more into blogging than ebooks.  I had already been a tad pissed off because the sequels to Cherie Priest’s Four and Twenty Blackbirds were not available on Kindle. 

    There’s also a lot of undeservedly oop books showing up on the Kindle from sources that are not the original printer.  Denise Vitola’s deeply dystrophic novels Quantum Moon and Winter Man are now available on Kindle.  Warning, do not touch if you are easily depressed.  I used to argue with a friend about whether her future US was based on Haiti or Middle Europe after the Soviet Union fell apart. 

    I really wish other authors would take the initiative to put certain books back into print this way.  I keep recommending books like Red Adam’s Lady and Power of Darkness but the only copies available are $40.00 and up.

  24. 24
    MoJo says:

    Since I got my Kindle, 95% of my reading has been done on it.  Reading real books from the library has become weird, especially new hardcover books.  They’re just so …. large….

    I have an eBookWise and I have to second how strange it is now to hold an actual book.

    I read in bed.  Mine’s backlit (so my husband likes it).  But you can also hold it with one hand and turn pages with a thumb.  When that hand gets tired, I can turn over and turn the device over (rotating the screen) and carry on.

    You can do markups and get blank pages, so I uploaded my critique partner’s novel, read it on a roadtrip this past weekend, making all my notes with my stylus and boom, done!  Now, I still have to manually transfer those to her manuscript on my laptop, but it was sure a lot cleaner process than looking at a manuscript (because it looked like a book and not a manuscript).

    I thought I would be true and loyal to paper forever and I will in some instances, but my keeper shelf isn’t very populated anyway (over 3.5 decades of reading voraciously), so likely I won’t find any new keepers any time soon.  If I do, I’ll buy print.  This ebook thing is simply too addicting to be believed.

    Also, the instant gratification factor of immediate download after purchase is drugging.  I’ve never spent so much money on books so seemingly guilt-free.  The same argument that you’re spending money on bits and bytes works the opposite way for me: I spend money on print, read it, then have this thing hanging around reminding me I could have got it at the library since it was most likely a pleasant read but not memorable.  Money guilt.  With the ebooks, I don’t see the bits and bytes, therefore, no guilt.

    I’m also more likely to try new-to-me authors and genres outside my comfort zone because it doesn’t seem like such a risk, either money-wise or space-wise.

  25. 25
    SB Sarah says:

    And just how do you save a book once you have read it and want to keep it, but not on the device?

    You manage the content on the device by selecting the files you’d like to move off the Kindle, and they’re stored on Amazon’s server in your account. Once you’re in the Content Manager mode on the Kindle, you can see which books are housed at Amazon and which books are residing on the Kindle, and you can move things back and forth.

  26. 26
    Teresa C says:

    I bought my first e-book in Sept 2004, shortly after I got an IPaq PDA.  Love it. E-book reader and brain all in one little device.
    Since that time I have been keeping track of books bought and read, price, format, genre, and other list type things (ListPro is great).
    So, I can tell you that:
    July 06, I read 8 e-books, and 8 paper type books (paper, trade, hardback).
    July 07, 9 e-books, and 5 paper.
    July 08, 15 e-books, and 1 paper.

    Keeping track of this type of information, I was able to tell that the $25 annual membership at Barnes & Noble was no longer worth the cost, the the same type of membership at Fictionwise was worth it weight in free e-books.

    As for audiobooks, I don’t actually keep track of those as well, as I normally get them from the library (besides my 2 from Audible each month).  But, I always have an active audiobook, and I can re-listen to books more times than I can re-read it.

    The last paperback I bought, I bought because Fictionwise didn’t have Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs for 10 days after the release date, and I got suckered in.  3 days later it was up on Fictionwise.  That is my biggest complaint, the slow e-book releases for some (but not all) books.

  27. 27
    Kaite says:

    These new readers are not backlit at all, that’s why they are still somewhat expensive.

    The only way this would work is if the Kindle or Sony Reader have the same limitations as a real book—they go invisible in the dark. I have to be exceptionally careful about my lighting (which is getting to be a pain.) Woe betide if the office goes dark in rain while I’m still working at my computer!

    I’ve thought about getting the Sony for my mother, though. She needs the large type books, and with her arthritis it would be easier on her hands to have an e-reader. I just don’t know how they work the formats on all the different readers—which is a massive pain in the ass, as well. At least I know I’ll be able to read the paper no matter what.

    Personally, between my eyes and the fact that I haven’t got arthritis, I think I’ll stick with paper for now. Probably forever, since I love books as items, not just as books. It’s why I took Descriptive Bibliography (which is a hell of a lot of fun for a certain crazy sort).

  28. 28
    Melissa H. says:

    I first started reading ebooks on my Palm about 5 yrs. ago and was immediately hooked by the portability, instant gratification and saving in storage space (over 100 books in the “palm” of my hand—how cool is that?!). I now read on my Palm Treo. Screen a bit smaller, but thanks to Lasix in my mid 30’s, early 40’s hasn’t brought on diminished eyesight (yet). I do get really testy when a desired book doesn’t release as fast on ebook, but what really gives me fits is when Fictionwise releases ebooks by one of my favorite authors in multiple formats for a while and then suddenly the newest release is only available in one format (usually Microsoft Reader—which is a no go for Palm). Sometimes I can find at the publisher’s site instead, but often not. Much gnashing of teeth ensues as I hunt down a print copy.  Hooked? Oh, no . . . not me;)!

  29. 29
    Melissa S says:

    I haven’t gotten an ebook reader just yet, but this past spring when I wanted to read my American author romances and not have to deal with the dollar to pound exchange rate or lack of authors I could rely on, I started buying ebooks to read on my computer. I mean just the fact of instant download gratification had me (almost) memorizing my card number. Since my first ebook, I’ve been thinking about getting a reader and since I’m heavy into rereading I know i’ll get my money’s worth. I just haven’t found the right reader yet…so when that one does come I think you definitely see a digital reader right here.

  30. 30
    Carrie says:

    I’m truly, madly, deeply in love with my Sony E-Reader.  I’d much prefer to get all my books in e-book format now.  The only thing I don’t like about it is reading books in the bathtub is impossible in that format.  It’s one thing to drop a paper book into the tub.  Sure, the pages swell and it’s start stinking after awhile but that’s a small price to pay vs. dropping $300.00 book into the tub!

    As far as the Tor thing goes, if you’re going to offer an E-book as a sneak peek at a new author or series, be smart enough to offer the rest of the series or author’s work in the same format.  One thing that keeps me from buying an e-book is if it’s part of a series and all of the books aren’t available in e-book format.

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