Ebook Survey Ahoy

Jane from DearAuthor, Angie James from Carina, and I are on a panel at the O’Reilly Tools of Change in Publishing conference about what readers want, and I’m hoping that you have a spare 10 minutes or so to complete a survey about your reading habits, your buying habits, and, if you’re a digital reader, some of your pet peeves about that subject.

The survey is online, is absolutely confidential (we ask you about piracy, and not the sexy puffy shirt kind, either) BUT if you complete it, you’re entered to win a drawing for $250 towards the ebook reader of your choice.

Thank you in advance for your time – we will definitely discuss the results as we collate, assemble and do sexy mathematical things to them.

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  1. 1
    StacieH4 says:

    Cool…I did your survey…hope the info I provided is helpful.

  2. 2
    Laura (in PA) says:

    I filled it out best I could. There were a couple of times it would have been handy to have a N/A choice (e.g., Have you ever downloaded books without paying for them? I answered No. Another question: Which of the following would help you stop downloading books without paying for them?)

    I probably don’t have the question absolutely right, but you get my drift.

    Thanks for asking for our input.  :)

  3. 3
    TKF says:

    Survey crapped out in the middle of page one and now it won’t let me play! *grrrr*

  4. 4
    Bonnie says:

    Great survey.  I’ll be interested to hear the results and discuss.

  5. 5
    Lucy says:

    Heh. “sexy mathematical things”

    Want more of this!

  6. 6

    I can’t help but wonder about going all digital all the time, given constraints on servers and the potential for ebook readers to be held hostage by corporations looking to squeeze maximum profit from every single bloody item—even to putting cheap (and deadly) stuff in baby formula because it means a bigger profit. My SF side says, Whoa! Haven’t I read this story? I can’t imagine a romantical hero coming to my rescue on this one…

  7. 7
    ghn says:

    I have taken the survey. I was even honest about DRM and piracy! (And there really should have been a real question in there about piracy and downloading, though I managed to sneak in something about that a couple of other places.)

    Now, if the publishers will listen to whatever sensible things comes out of that survey… At a guess the areas where the publisher will be adviced to get sensible about will be DRM, prices, and hopefully geographical restrictions. And lo and behold! those are also the things that I am likely to get annoyed about when I go e-book shopping!

  8. 8
    Lea says:

    I do want an e-reader, but I want one that will work in my country, and so far I have no seen even a glimmer of a possibility of acquiring such a thing. Although it would make my shelves so much less cluttered.

  9. 9
    Castiron says:

    Neat survey, though I found myself wanting “it depends” options on a lot of the questions.  (Like “are ebook prices too high, too low, or just right?”—I can point to examples of all the above.)

    (And I’m amused that my Recaptcha was “to shaft”.)

  10. 10

    I’ve actually just put down my very first drop of royalties (YAY, ROYALTIES! :) ) on a nook! So if I win the drawing, can I spend the $250 on ebooks instead? ;)

    Regardless, excellent survey and I was happy to fill it out.

  11. 11
    Kristin says:

    I had the same wish as Laura (in PA) for an N/A option on some of the questions.

  12. 12

    Survey crapped out after page six and now won’t let me play!

  13. 13

    This was a very good survey and I enjoyed filling it out. The only thing that I’d have liked to see, was an N/A option, as there were some questions that I felt didn’t have an answer for. Example, there was a question about downloading ebook files for free, that’s something I’ve never done, nor would I do so in the future because of piracy. The next question asked if I’d pay for an ebook downloaded for free if it was less expensive or able to be shared with a friend, I was a little confused and answered the most logical even though it really didn’t apply. Other than that, I hope many authors and readers will take time out to answer the questions, extremely interesting.

  14. 14

    Do you want people who don’t read ebooks to answer the survey? It sort of seems like you do, or you wouldn’t be offering a discount on buying a reader, but perhaps you’re assuming that people want to upgrade, or that they already read on their desktops?

    Seeing what other people have written about the question on downloading ebook files for free, are you asking if people have downloaded legitimate free ebooks (e.g. all the ebooks Harlequin gave away for free during its 60th anniversary celebrations) or are you asking if they’ve downloaded free pirated ebooks? Or when you asked that question are you not trying to distinguish between the two?

  15. 15

    Can you delete my entry and let me start again?
    I did the whole survey with java and active scripts turned off, because that’s how I surf (to avoid viruses and such). I got to the last page and realised I had to turn it on because of the captcha. I turned the captcha on, it reverted all my responses to the default and wouldn’t let me go again!

    There was one question I angsted over. “Have you ever downloaded an ebook copy to replace a paper copy?” well, yes. I downloaded all of Dickens’ books but that’s perfectly legal because he’s out of copyright. It freed up a whole shelf on my bookshelf. I’ve got Jane Austen and a few others, too. But the question occurs in the middle of the pirate section, so it makes it look bad to answer it with a yes!

    Would have been nice to have a “neither like nor dislike” option, a “meh” answer sometimes.

  16. 16
    JBHunt says:

    Just completed the survey. Made me think about my choices and some criteria I had not been considering (but probably should).

  17. 17
    Bonnie R says:

    I realized after taking the survey that it would have been good to provide a space for explaining more of the rationale for choosing an ebook over a paper/HC book.  For instance, I still buy hardcover cookbooks; can’t imagine dragging the Kindle into the kitchen!  Also agree w/suggestion for more N/A options where appropriate.

  18. 18
    El says:

    Great idea, but I’m sorry to say I gave up on the survey—hit several questions where none of the answers applied. Any chance of a revised survey?

    I didn’t get as far as the piracy questions people talk about above—stopped with the pricing questions. I hope there’s a distinction between piracy and legitimately free downloads; I have over 600 in my iPaq from places like Project Gutenberg, Blackmask, Baen’s Free Library. I don’t yet own one of the newer eReaders, so I may not be your target audience anyway.

  19. 19
    annabella says:

    It was a little tricky answering the questions about my reading and buying habits, because they have changed a lot in the last few months.

    Since I started reading SBTB I have begun reading ebooks – I never did so before. In addition, my Romance intake has rocketed!

    I began by downloading (legal) freebies and then tried out buying some on Books on Board. I’m now a little bit hooked, even though I have to read them on my laptop which is rather uncomfortable on the eyes (and also for reading in bed).

    I think it unlikely that I will ever buy an e-reader unless they come down to about £20 (yes, twenty!).

    I still buy relatively few ebooks (and they have to be cheap), and the vast majority of my purchases are second-hand (physical bookshop or Amazon sellers). But SBTB has changed my book-buying habits – for better or for worse.

    spamword knew92: before I knew it, I found I’d bought 92 ebooks…

  20. 20
    Lisa Hendrix says:

    I had trouble with the survey, too. Got 3 pages in and was interrupted.  Now I can’t finish because it thinks I’ve already done one. I tried with a diff. email, and I even went in and tried erasing relevant cookies, but it still tells me:

    There was a problem with your submission.
    Sorry, but this form is limited to one submission per user.

    Aargh.  Is there any help to be had?

  21. 21
    Scrin says:

    I went on through and answered the best I can, though not all the questions applied to me—but enough of the ebook questions did, especially when it came to why I don’t have one (broke) and why I’m not actively seeking one (can’t share the books like I do normally, so…why should I pay for that if I can’t share it with friends and family if I can’t let them read it without them having to borrow the whole e-reader?)

  22. 22
    liz m says:

    Same as Lisa, the answers were pre-filled and then it died on section 3 and thinks i’ve already taken it.

    But aside from that, the data on pricing will be skewed, because most survey takers will answer that in their top average price and pricing is so situational.

  23. 23
    TKF says:

    Not happy to see lots of people having problems, but I’ll admit I’m glad I’m not alone!

  24. 24
    SB Sarah says:

    Oy. I am so sorry you guys are having problems! I think it might be traffic-related as it’s being linked from a whole bunch of places, but either way: I’m sorry about that!

  25. 25
    Cris Anson says:

    Thanks, Sarah, for offering such a wide-ranging survey. With your mega-readership, you should get a good cross-section of responses to inform the debate on ebooks and ereaders. Keep up the good work!
    Cris

  26. 26
    T says:

    I’m really enjoying feeling like a frontrunner as a user of a new branch of technology for once. Is there any group of people percieved as un-tech-savy as the sterotypical romance-reading-old-maid-bookworm? :lol: So thanks for giving the opportunity to be heard in places where decisions about the future developments are made. Hopefully this will lead to more user-friendly solutions from the start in the next-generation of ebooks and ebookreaders.

    I would’ve needed a n/a option on a few points too. And/or an “other”_______ option as well. Also agree with the pricing question being misleading: it all depends on what you’re getting for the money. A difficult to find or OOP non-fiction science dome would be worth paying much more than a category romance novel, for example.

    It’ll be interesting to see the results, for sure!

    Many of the aspects I most wish for in ebooks (flexibility! more options!) seem to require changes in the whole chain from devices to software to publishing and retail, tough.

  27. 27
    K. Z. Snow says:

    I agree with other commenters about the lack of sufficient choices in answering some of the questions.  For example, since I don’t own an e-reader, how could I have either bought one for myself or received one as a gift?  Duh.  And the question about e-publishers caring about readers needed more answers than yes and no. 

    It will be interesting to see how people respond to the piracy questions.  I just blogged about an aspect of this issue (i.e. whether or not authors and publishers should stop offering free promotional downloads, or offer backlist titles rather than new/recent releases).

  28. 28
    Myriantha Fatalis says:

    As with most discussion of ebooks around here, I found that the survey was heavily biased towards the concept that ebooks = Kindle/nook/some other dedicated reader, which made it difficult to answer your questions.  Multi-use devices are the wave of the future, the future, I say … a future that I’ve been inhabiting for over a decade now.  (And if I win the drawing, could I just get a gift certificate at Fictionwise instead?  Because I don’t want an ereader.)

  29. 29
    hope101 says:

    I don’t know how interested you guys are in scientific answers – particularly about the thinking processes of intransigent, dead-tree-diehards, like myself – but I’d like to suggest you rethink the wording of a great many questions.

    For instance, “When you have the option of buying either a print book or an ebook”, there is no option to say “I don’t purchase e-books”; nor the option to simply avoid selecting one of the affirmative choices. How can someone like me give you a truthful response?

    I found so many instances like this, where the survey actually pushes the reader to the assumption of e-book adoption, I had to quit it, rather than influence your data.

    So if you only want to hear from the people on the fence, or those who have already embraced e-books, carry on. Just understand you’ll be missing information on a good section of your readers.

    Hope,
    Luddite, paper-book lover, and all-round grouch

  30. 30
    Brooks*belle says:

    Done!

    Looking forward to learning about the results.

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