Tools of Change in Publishing

Smart Bitches Trashy Books LLC is a media partner for the 2010 O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference (and if you’d like a discount off registration, click that ad over yonder and use the code toc10sb for 15% off the cost), and I’m preparing for two presentations at the 2010 conference. Nervous? You bet your sweet bippy. Why? In both cases, I’m talking about digital books and digital reading, and while these are subjects that I’ve learned a tremendous amount about, I remain convinced that those who drive the digital reading and digital publishing industries are not always listening to the reader. So my brain is spinning with all the things I want to communicate – and I’m trying to make sense of everything I want to say, because I want to make sure I do a fair job of representing the feedback I’ve received about digital books, devices, and the experience of digital reading.

One panel I’m on is titled Test Driving the Digital Reading Experience, and it’s all about – you guessed it – the Smart Bitches Test Drive of Sony Readers in 2009. My part of the presentation will explain a bit about the demographics that made up the pool of Test Drivers, and the common frustrations each experienced during their Test Drive, as well as the enthusiasm. While the Test Drive was going on, I had a special email loop set up for them to talk to one another, and one of the coolest parts of the loop was that they served as community tech support to one another as they set up and started using their devices.

The other panel I’m on is Essentials of Digital Books from the Consumer’s Point of View and I’ll be presenting alongside Jane from DearAuthor and Angela James from Carina Press. The focus of this presentation is, obviously, the consumer’s wish list and check list for ideal digital books, from buying to reading to organizing, keeping and (GASPOMGWTFNO) potentially sharing with friends.

Because the audience for Tools of Change is very technically savvy – seriously, you will never see so many surge suppressor strips in one room for laptop plugging-in as in a conference room at ToC – and because the audience is also made up of publishing folks who specialize in digital and print production as well as those who mastermind software, hardware, and device prototypes, I want to give the best presentation possible, and I want to make sure I accurately represent the fiction readers who adore digital, and why, and those who aren’t interested, and why.

More than anything, though, I want to move past the digital vs. print mentality. I want to do away with the phrase “dead tree” as if books in print are something to feel guilty, un-ecological or just plain maudlin about. I want to move past the conflict rhetoric most of all because reading in any form is important, and book production as a profitable enterprise in any form is in danger economically. My favorite part of our proposal is the following:

The inability of print and digital marketing efforts to promote one another for greater collaborative success is the true cannibal of everyone’s profits.

It makes me want to get Biblical on people’s asses, by way of a simple question: do you want swords or do you want plowshares? Publishing in any form is a withering market every quarter, and if you want growth and profit, put the swords down and start working together on digital and print as a two parts of the same profit stream. Seriously, the digital vs. print war is old, tired, and makes me want to stab someone in the ass with a spear and a pruning hook.

So while I’m crafting two presentations about reading from a consumer’s point of view – and that by necessity includes print and digital – and about test driving the digital reading experience, what points do you think are the most crucial? Do you want to talk about the books you read? The devices you use, or the books you own? What key points must not be missed, in your opinion, in discussing any tool of change in publishing?

 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Chris says:

    I’d be most interested in discussing readers’ rights in the world of ebooks (what? readers have rights?! who knew??) and the lack of quality/lack of editing found in so many ebooks.

  2. 2
    AM says:

    If you can find more than my evidence, I think it would be smart to point out that people who would prefer to read paperbacks are not all technophobes and vice versa.

    I work on computers all day.  I don’t *want* to be connected to anything fancier than a dead tree with ink on it at the end of the day, no matter how good the technology is at replicating that experience.  (And really, that’s what the best e-readers tout..)

    I totally understand other people preferring e-Readers.  Since all printed materials originate on computers these days (except Jessica Steel *grin*), it should be a brainless activity to make both versions available for profit.

    The (e vs. print) debate reminds of a an issue that’s close to home in my house, which is the supposed “death” of the newspaper industry.  It’s changing, that’s for sure.  It has to go online to survive and get smaller and smarter about what it chooses to print. 

    But I think the death of newspapers has been greatly exaggerated.  I know people my age (Gen X)  who get Sunday papers and read comics and do the crossword puzzle.  It’s simply not the same experience online and probably never will be.  Brain dead profits are not in the newspaper industry anymore, but there are still profits to be had.

  3. 3
    joykenn says:

    AM, the debate isn’t really ereaders versus paperbacks but choice.  We want some books in eformat, some in print.  Right now each carries different rights.  I just recommended a book to a friend but couldn’t lend it to her cause I bought it on Kindle. Sigh! OK but I got it cheap. 

    What I’m worried about is that if publishers get too greedy they will spoil it all.  Embargos, proprietary platforms, all worry me.  I’m reluctant to plunge in and replace all my

    keeper

    in digital format which I would love to do because I have a Kindle and don’t want to be stuck with only that format.  My audiobooks account lets me choose the format I want and saves my access so when I discard on audioplayer I can still download the book on my newer device.

    Greed is NOT good!  Some level of cooperation and standardization would mean that ereaders could count on keeping their access through changes in devices and would eagerly raid the backfiles of publishers to get all of their favorite author, all the books in a series, older books by an author that they just discover.  That means more money for everybody and a vibrant and healthy publishing industry.

  4. 4
    joanneL says:

    and because the audience is also made up of publishing folks who specialize in digital and print production as well as those who mastermind software, hardware and because the audience is also made up of publishing folks who specialize in digital and print production as well as those who mastermind software, hardware

    Can you make them understand that if they’re so smart they should be able to make it easy for those of us who want to read books electronically without having to read manuals for their respective programs?

    You can talk the talk Sarah—- I don’t have the right but I’m so proud—but can you help them to see that I, and people of my ilk,—har!—- don’t care about their infighting but about the product and the ease of getting same?

    I but books, lots of books,  in different forms.  Make it simple and I’ll buy the book. Some in ebook, some in mm and some in hardcover. It won’t depend on the technology but the author.

    So ask them why they can’t make it simple for me. ‘Cause it really is all about me and—- again, har!—- people of my ilk who want to read the damn books.

  5. 5
    katiebabs says:

    Whoa, the $1500 + price of admission is way to much for me too attend. I guess industry people are more the types to go this this event?

    https://en.oreilly.com/toc2010/public/register

  6. 6
    SheaLuna says:

    For me it goes back to choice. 

    I choose paperback.  Why?  Because reading on a screen gives me a pounding, throbbing nightmare of a headache.  Even the e-reader screens which are suppose to be nearly as good as paper.  Nothankyouverymuch.

    But there are so many really interesting books out there that are only available as e-books (and vice versa).  Why can’t they have OPTIONS???  If Lulu and Amazon can do it, why can’t all publishers give their readers the OPTION to buy books in print or electronically?  What’s so bloody hard about that?  It’s not rocket science, people.

  7. 7
    Carin says:

    Well, I’m impatient to get over this proprietary format crap.  Let’s pick one and let everyone read it.  I have a Sony but can’t get good Kindle prices or some of the formats on Fictionwise which are on sale because my Sony doesn’t speak that language.  And even though I pay for a book, I’m not allowed to reformat it unless I do illegal things like stripping DRM.

    As for sharing books, I don’t know if anyone else is doing this, but I lend my whole reader to friends when I want to share a good book with them.  I usually have a stack of books from the library to read anyway, and I don’t miss it TOO much when it’s gone for a week.

    As far as what I think is important about the digital reading experience…  my experience with the Sony is that it’s too frustrating/difficult for a not tech savy user to figure out without help.  I can’t recommend a Sony to my friends if I’m not sure they’d make it through the setup experience.  It sounds like the Kindle is a lot easier, but I don’t know anyone with one, so I’m not sure.

    And when I say make it easy, I’m talking about not just getting it up and running, but getting the reader to talk to stores and my library.  Those need to be easy to do, not take hours of figuring out and frustration.  That was my experience, anyway.

  8. 8
    Polly says:

    I love the idea of digital books, and from what I’ve seen of the various digital readers, I’d love to have one someday (though I’m usually more of a paperback person because I already spend all day looking at a screen). But I’m too poor now for one, plus, until libraries can loan digital books, I’d have a hard time justifying the purchase of a digital reader. I’d love to hear what about what’s on the horizons, or not, for libraries and digital books. I never thought audio books and playaways would make it to libraries, but they’re huge part of circulations. Any word on digital books?

  9. 9
    RStewie says:

    I’d love to see a universal format, I’d love to see some DRM issues resolved (preferrably so there is NO DRM, or, if there is, that it is not intrusive to the storage/maintenance/reading of my ebooks…you know, the one I bought with my own money to OWN), and also I would love to see some pricing that reflects the limited nature of the ebook (I can only download it so many times—even if it’s my Adobe Digital Editions that is screwing it up, and I can’t generally loan it, unless I’m loaning my laptop, and it has no resale or trade-in value, unlike a paperback).

    Also, I love LOVE that you are focusing on the utter ridiculousness of the ebook vs paperback debate.  The formats shouldn’t be anything except different formats of the same product, like hardback and paperback and trade size.

  10. 10
    Laurel says:

    SB Sarah:

    If you can reach just one of the dinosaurs and make them see that even without eBooks the industry has changed and needs to change more, and eBooks are a good thing in affecting this change, then an angel will get its wings.

    It is an opportunity. Not the apocolypse. A product people want in a growing market. A way to publish books that you won’t have returned for pulping after you oversold all your national accounts.

    Piracy is the only major, real objection and surely somebody somewhere can figure out how to slow that down. People are always going to figure out a way to steal crap, hard print or digital, so even piracy is not new. Just a new way to steal books.

  11. 11
    Cat Marsters says:

    So ask them why they can’t make it simple for me. ‘Cause it really is all about me and—- again, har!—- people of my ilk who want to read the damn books.

    Yes! This is what so many producers of so many kinds of content so rarely understand. It doesn’t matter if it’s an ebook reader or a car, they need to listen to what the consumer wants. All too often I hear, “But that’s not our problem,” from companies whose problem it really is. FAIL.

    But there are so many really interesting books out there that are only available as e-books (and vice versa).  Why can’t they have OPTIONS???

    On the flip side of my above point (I like to play devil’s advocate): from a publisher’s point of view it doesn’t always make financial sense to do both formats. There are far fewer arguments against creating digital content (once the book has been edited, all you have to do is format it correctly for each ebook format, which is very inexpensive). But if you primarily produce ebooks, getting them into print can be quite expensive, with little guaranteed return. Sure, you can sell your books on Amazon, but getting them into brick-and-mortar stores for browsers to come across is damn near impossible for small presses. Added to which, the costs of printing, storage, and more importantly distribution are overwhelming (and take a criminally large cut of your profits).

    Then you have the rights issues. Some authors are really against ebooks, in large part because of the piracy issue. A lot of new contracts include digital rights, but depending on the stature of the author and his/her agent, they might simply not be granted.

    Which brings me to…

    People are always going to figure out a way to steal crap, hard print or digital, so even piracy is not new. Just a new way to steal books.

    The music industry has faced the same problems, and you’d think publishing would learn from them. Even iTunes has given up the fight on DRM. The attitude towards piracy seems to be rather like the attitude towards terrorism: that everyone’s guilty until proven innocent, when I’m pretty sure it’s enshrined in law in most Western countries that it’s supposed to be the other way around.

    I never thought audio books and playaways would make it to libraries, but they’re huge part of circulations. Any word on digital books?

    Some libraries already do this. I think it depends on where you are. I’ve heard from several US librarians that they loan ebooks, and I was quite surprised to find my local UK library network offering them (albeit a limited selection).

  12. 12
    Terry Odell says:

    I want to read. I don’t want to be told “this book is only readable in the bedroom; if you want to read in the bathroom, you’ll have to buy THAT version.”

    I want there to be a choice. Sometimes an e-reader is good. Heck, I write for 2 e-publishers as well as print publishers. Sometimes it’s nice to have a print book. I’d love to be able to pick and choose features (especially the back light, because I love the way I can use my eBookwise in bed) and end up with a ‘custom’ type reader that will still receive content in any format. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Formats should fit all readers. Would be nice to see the day when any book is available in print AND digital. Nothing more frustrating than to find a publisher has books 1, 2 and 5 of a series in digital available at one of the “supermarket” sites, but if you want 3 and 4, you have to get the print version.

  13. 13
    Ros says:

    I want the publishers to realise that content is king.  I don’t care how many formats you’re selling a book in; if that book is crap I don’t want to read it.  I want them to focus more and more on finding great authors in all genres, editing them properly, and marketing them to readers.  And then I just want to be able to buy the book in whatever format I choose as a matter of course. 

    I was listening to an interview with Terry Waite recently, talking about the time he was held hostage in Lebanon for several years. His guards agreed to get him some English books to read.  The first one was a manual of breastfeeding – clearly the guards couldn’t read English.  So he drew the Penguin logo and asked them to get him books with that on it, knowing that whatever they were, they would be worth reading.  I’d like it if publishers could be proud of their own brands again, in a way that helped me to trust what I was buying before handing over my hard-earned cash.

  14. 14
    darlynne says:

    Engineers create things that didn’t previously exist, which is exactly what they’re supposed to do. And this is wonderful, except when every engineer creates their own version of a widget, a proprietary widget that only works on one machine or in one manner.

    This is the problem I have with ebook readers, which is why I read on a netbook and haven’t purchased a reader. I’m old enough to have lived through the VHS vs. Betamax days and don’t want to do that again. Please: Agree upon universal formats and DRM, agree on accessibility and portability, and, for crying out loud, agree that I am the reason they sell books in the first place.

  15. 15
    Cyranetta says:

    As someone who took up e-reading just a month ago (on an IPod Touch, which I find quite satisfactory), I find it doesn’t take long to see advantages and disadvanages that I wish publishers would bear in mind.

    Advantages
    Storage—I’m already being crowded out of practically every room of the house by shelves and boxes and piles of books of various kinds; to be able to store a lot of my books “in the cloud” would be liberating (at least of elbow room).
    Convenience —The IPod touch fits neatly in any purse or pocket, and having several selections from which to choose means I can truly read on whim and not have to plan carefully which book or books may suit my mood.
    Diversity—It seems to me that e-publishing has the potential to overcome the deleterious effect of publishers’ having lost a wide variety of independent bookstores and needing to concentrate their physical books on what will move quickly in big-box stores and major chains. It should make it more possible for the abandoned midlist author and the neglected special-interest author to find their readerships.

    Disadvantages
    Complexity —as many others have mentioned, there are too many formats and too many required instructions (as opposed to the “1) open book to desired page number; 2) turn page when ready” almost-intuitive level of instruction of reading a physical book). Books are both impulse and purposive purchases; they are also both impulse and purposive activities—e-readers need to allow for both modes.
    Technological Constraints—I still have to be aware of the little “depleting battery” icon and make sure I have some charging capability available.
    Inability to Share—I cannot count the number of times I have passed along a newly discovered author’s book to a friend, with the result that now both of us purchase the author’s upcoming releases (and backlist, if available). E-mailing a link to an Amazon.com entry doesn’t have quite the same effect.

  16. 16
    Carin says:

    @Polly – We’ve got digital books in the library in Kansas.  And I can access it all from home.  Beautiful.  Now, if they would pick up a few more titles I’d be happy, but I’m patient.  Finding out I had library access to ebooks was when I made the decision to buy an ereader. 

    Now that I own an ereader I’m buying more books than I used to.  I don’t get why publishers are confused about this.  Give me ebooks.  I will buy them.  I can’t remember the last time I bought a hard cover, but I’ll buy ebooks.

  17. 17
    Rebecca says:

    I want to ditto what @Chris said in the first comment. As a Kindle owner, I think the epublishing industry should be ashamed of the quality of editing that sneaks through in a lot of their ebooks. Now, I’ve never read both an e-version and a print-version of any of these books, so I don’t know if the editing is just bad all around, but I doubt it.

    Frankly, if I keep getting poorly edited books in e-format, it will deter me from buying them in the future.

    Also, as a reader, I worry about the way authors are getting treated in this whole transition. I’ve heard more than one author on the radio lately talking about how their electronic publishing rights have been under scrutiny. And I just read a blog by a Canadian author (Cheryl Kaye Tardif) whose book was published for Kindle, and she didn’t even know about it, let alone get paid for it. So, I guess, as a reader, I want to know that when I pay for an ebook, the author of that ebook is getting the money they should be getting.

  18. 18
    Polly says:

    I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the library e-books (though there’s still the problem of not having a reader). I don’t think my library has them, but I’m glad to know that some do. Thanks for the updates.

  19. 19
    Gwynnyd says:

    I either want to OWN the book, with all the rights I expect from buying paper,  or for the publishers to admit that I am only paying for access to those pixels and to give me a short term option.  Frankly, if the book isn’t going on my keeper shelf anyway, why not embrace a NetFlix-like format and give me a month’s access for a low rental fee, or a monthly subscription price?  I give movies back after I’ve watched them. I’m happy for most books to go away after one read and if I want to keep them for reading, I’ll gladly pay an additional amount for the right to own them, or pay another rental fee in the future.

  20. 20
    Marianne McA says:

    I was using my Sony last week, and a guy sitting at the same table remarked he’d bought one for his wife last Christmas, and she hadn’t really used it, so he’d bought her vouchers this Christmas in the hope that it would encourage her to use it more.
    I remarked that it was hard to get the books you wanted for it, and he said that’s what his wife said.
    So, straw in the wind – and neither of us live in the US – but for me, that’s the huge problem. I’ve sometimes sat at the computer, wanting something to read, with money to spare to pay for it, and just given up, because there’s no intuitive way to find the books I want.
    (I think I’d like something like the Literature-Map, except with books, so that you could plug in the sort of thing you felt like reading -Jasper Fforde, say – and other tenuously connected titles would float past, so you could spider-web yourself along the connections till you got something that you liked. And then, when you clicked on it, it’d be available straight away, in a format your device could read, at a sensible price.)

    And, just an extra thought on the print book v. ebook thing: I would absolutely duplicate favourite books if it was economically feasible to do so. I’ve rebought all of Baen’s Bujold books, because they price them to sell. I already have all the HP series in print and audio versions, but I’d buy an e-version too, if they’d sell me one. So it doesn’t have to be an either or thing – as long as I’m not expected to pay a premium price twice for the same product, I’ll buy DIK books in both formats.

  21. 21
    Rene B says:

    I am a diehard reader, and I’m pretty sure that I will always be. (Disclaimer: I’ve not tried digital reading yet, because I don’t just buy books to read; I buy to collect as well) Because I do collect books, both fiction and non-fiction and all of them having to do with Ancient Egypt, I want to make sure that I have a reader that can support all of them because not all of them are published in the same format. I don’t want to need to have a Kindle and a Sony and possibly others to support all of the books that I collect.

    I am sure that no matter what happens, I’ll wind up getting an e-reader so that I can get my review copies of books, but I would love to use my reader for more than just work. Right now the market feels like watching the Blu-Ray/HD wars, and I really hope it resolves itself soon, because I really am eager to jump into the world of e-books!

  22. 22

    I’m generally an early adopter, I love electronic gadgets except for mobile phone which is just a pain, and I am looking forward to a decent ereader which is around 100-150 euros, not 300+, which adapts to all formats, has colour so I can see covers just like on an ipod, can let me highlight, write notes – maybe like a mac’s stickies programme, and is wireless across borders…hahhahahahaha. I don’t think I’ll be buying any e-reader anytime soon. I have a friend who has bought a Sony and loves it, but he’s flat on his back after a really nasty back op, so the lightweight e-reader suits him plus he’s rereading all the free classics on the gizmo. He’s also rich enough to upgrade easily when there is better connectivity. He gave me a go on the Sony, and I didn’t see the point, to be honest.

    Remote withdrawal of titles is also a big deterrent. I don’t want to spend money on books only to find them deleted because some corporate censor has decided we shouldn’t have access to e.g. tintin in the Congo…

  23. 23
    Ros says:

    Also, publishers really, really need to recognise that these days they are dealing with a global market, especially for ebooks, and get rid of geographical restrictions on rights.  There’s nothing that will drive piracy quicker than restricting access to legal, paid-for downloads of the books.

  24. 24
    Cat Marsters says:

    Oh yes—pricing. I know Kindle takes a big chunk of the retail price, which means that to get the same profit, books have to be priced higher. However, a lot of larger publishers only offer their authors the same royalty rate on ebooks as on print, which means the author still gets little from it, while the reader resents paying for it. FAIL. No wonder piracy seems more attractive. Authors ought to be getting a much higher rate on digital sales than print; to do otherwise is just selfish, since the digital book costs much less to produce, and requires no storage or shipping.

    As a Kindle owner, I think the epublishing industry should be ashamed of the quality of editing that sneaks through in a lot of their ebooks.

    Do you mean editing, or formatting? Editing is more about content—everything from character to plot, as well as minor issues like spelling. I know a lot of ebook formats have problems with formatting, such as lines missing or turned into italics (I was recently told by one of my publishers that double line spaces between paragraphs, such as might be used to denote a change of scene or POV, were simply erased in some formats. To this end they were replaced with asterisk breaks). I know my editors and I work very hard on making my books as good as they can be. Formatting isn’t the same as editing—although allowing formatting errors to get through isn’t excusable.

  25. 25

    I have a Kindle, and I still read and buy paperbacks and a few hardbacks.  I’ve had my Kindle (one of the original ones) for a few years, and what I love about it is how great it is for travel.  When I used to visit at my in-laws for a 10 day visit, I would pack 10 books, which gets a little heavy.  I love knowing if I read one book on my Kindle, and HAVE to read the sequel immediately, I can usually order it in my PJ’s or in the airport or whatever, and have it in about a minute.

    But, I’m not a commuter, so I don’t use my Kindle everyday.  If I was, I’d probably use it on the train, because I also like how no one can tell that what you’re reading.  I could be reading erotica for all they would know.

    I still buy brand spanking new books on visits to bookstores, but mostly, to be honest, I use paperbackswap.com for much of my paperback needs.  I don’t actually want to keep most of the romance novels I read, and paperbackswap is great because I know that novel is going to be passed on to someone who really wants it, and not taking up shelf space in my house. 

    Tell those industry people that offering free ebooks really does work as a marketing tool to get people to try new authors.  It has worked on me more than once.  When the second in a series comes out, I’ve downloaded the first book offered free, and then ended up buying the second book right after.  Kindle also offers free sample chapters of many books, which is another great way to try before you buy.

    I buy Hardbacks less and less, as there are not many books I can’t wait for the paperback or buy the ebook.  But I think they will never completely go away because of people like my husband who loves to collect books.  It just may become more of a niche thing with added features, like more expensive special edition DVD’s.

  26. 26
    KathleenD says:

    Yes, yes, yes @Chris and @Rebecca.

    In the course of my market research for my own projects, I downloaded several E-books from multiple publishers. I read them as PDF’s on my laptop.

    Every one of these files contained spelling errors, duplicate paragraphs, and worse.

    The things I’ve seen in the NYTimes suggest that e-readers tend to be financially secure (and pre-disposed to spend money on reading in general) and well-educated. Isn’t that the exact market you’d want to impress with impeccable writing and top notch quality control? My non-scientific sample suggested that the print books from the same publishers get the editorial loving and the e-books get slopped into the trough.

    The idea of doing away with this insane division between print and digital could only help with the discrepancy I noticed.

  27. 27
    Mary Stella says:

    Before I start, I’m going to make three declarations.  1) I’m a techno-goober and understanding electronic gadgets does not come easily.  2) I hate reading user manuals.  3) I have resisted reading e-books for years because I spend wayyyy too many hours every single day already reading/working at a computer screen.

    Understand these three things about me and you’ll probably be surprised by the fourth statement.

    I just got a Kindle.  I have friends who would have bet good money that I’d bungee jump off a bridge before buying an e-reader.  So they’re only slightly less surprised than I am that I bought a Kindle and, shocker of shockers, am loving it.

    I now know why in March 2008, the fabulous Kate Duffy crooned to her Kindle. 

    It has even surpassed the item that used to be my favorite electronic device in my nightstand.

    So, why did I buy it?  I buy and read a hell of a lot of books every year.  My bookshelves overfloweth and I’m running out of room for plastic tubs filled with books.  I’ve already donated a huge rubber tub and three large cardboard boxes of books to the library and I still haven’t made a dent.  You know how Sisyphus can never get that boulder all of the way up the hill in Hades?  I’ll never be able to get the number of books in my house back to a manageable number.

    A number of my favorite, auto-buy authors now publish in hardcover.  I do not want to wait a year for the paperback versions, but economic times being what they are, it’s damned expensive to feed my habit.  I do, however, want to continue to support authors and publishers and not switch to only buying used versions or going to the library.  With a Kindle, I can support the biz and save $$, too, so we all win.

    I live in the middle of the Florida Keys.  From Key Largo (the first island) to Key West (the last), there is one chain bookstore, a small Border’s Express, in Key West, over an hour from my house.  In my town there is a Discount Book Store and Health Food Store that sells some books.  You can also find some books at Publix, CVS, Walgreens and K-Mart.  Trust me.  Many of the books that I want to buy as soon as possible are not readily available.  Commonly, when I make a trip to the mainland (going off the rock as we call it here), I end up at Borders or Barnes & Noble buying a lot of books.  Or, since I can’t wait for certain titles, I buy online and wait for several days for the books to arrive.

    With Kindle, I can buy online and wait a few minutes.

    I’ve really been pleased with the “readability” of the Kindle.  I worried that I would get eyestrain or headaches after reading for an extended period of time, but that isn’t the case.  The only problem, and problem is too strong a word, is that I read very fast so I hit that “Next Page” button many times in a short period.

    I will continue to buy many books in print, but there are a lot of authors I might have had to pass on or wait on who will be purchased via the Kindle. 

    So, what do I want to see?  A standard format that can be read on any e-book device.  In the long run, I think the industry will wind up there.  I’m sure Amazon’s done well since they made the big splash, but in the long run, if other e-reading devices are out there, why wouldn’t you want the consumer to be able to purchase content from you for their device?

  28. 28

    This is an incredibly important topic.  I treasure the printed word.  My home is filled with books – every single home of every single member of my family is filled with printed pages – we have books hundreds of years old.  However, I am a realist.  The publishing world is being forced to deal with changes coming at them at lightning speed.  It’s kind of a shit or get off the pot scenario.  The publishing world, both newspaper and books, must adapt and whether readers like it or not, ebooks are the wave of the future.  That does not mean print will disappear.  The next generation, the generation to which my children belong and their children will belong, will continue to rely upon technology – will increasingly rely upon technology.
     
    I agree.  This does not have to be an all or nothing situation.  There must be a way to compromise so that traditional print houses can survive and epubs can improve.  On line subscriptions, printing the best selling books, less emphasis on what traditional publishers hope will be the next big expensive blockbuster – in my experience, the publishing industry has been a very closed world.  Perhaps it needs to open up a bit and widen its horizons.  The average person has less and less expendable income and ebooks are far more affordable than a hard back book.  In fact, there is no comparison. 
    I could blab all day about this so I’ll shut up now.

  29. 29
    MaryK says:

    Since publishers are so allergic to sharing ebooks, how about a compromise that lets readers share part of a book, like a chapter maybe, of their choice.  Then you could say to a friend, “this book is so great, you’d love it, check out this scene,” and send her a chapter.  That’s no more than a good sized excerpt, really, and is free advertising without “losing a sale” of the book.  Heck, I bought the latest Dahl based on a twitpic of one page.

  30. 30

    I think MaryK’s idea about being able to share a chapter or snippet with a friend is a fantastic idea, and a nice compromise!

    I’d still wish I could share my Kindle books with a friend, maybe for a limited time or something, but maybe her idea is something e-publishers would actually not fight.

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