Happy Dance Open Letter About Impulse Buying eBooks

I received the following letter in my inbox from L. awhile ago, lost it, found it, and can’t believe I didn’t post it earlier. This rules.

Dear anyone who wants to read this:

Thank you for making digital books available. As a voracious reader with insomniac tendencies, THANK YOU.

Nora Roberts: I would probably have never bought a single book if they weren’t available in digital format. I’m not a “romance reader.” BUT. Your J. D. Robb books aren’t straight up contemporary romance. And I keep seeing their titles bandied about here, there, and yonder. So a couple of months ago, jonesing for a good read, I thought, “I’ll give Ms. Roberts a try.” And it was simple. My impulsive 1 am decision did not require me to go to a bookstore with two kids under age six in tow.

I’m on book seven.

Ilona Andrews: Holy crap. I LOVE your Kate Daniels books. I’ve found them via “readers who bought THIS also bought THIS” on Amazon. Because I got a Kindle for my birthday last September. And while Amazon is the devil, they are also a hell of a marketing team and I can buy books at 2:00am and start reading at 2:01. Digital or print, I WILL be buying the next one in May.

Courtney Milan: Never would have read a word if I were still a brick and mortar exclusive shopper. I saw your name at PubRants and here and thought, “Hey, that’s some pretty good street cred. I’d like to read something new. What the heck?” I loved Proof by Seduction. Again, I don’t consider myself a straight up romance reader. There is a probablility of -.003 I would have bought this book browsing in a brick and mortar store.

Gail Carriger: Bought Soulless on a whim, facing a cross country flight armed only with my Kindle. I claim personal responsibility for no less than five more (digital) copies being consumed and adored by readers I know.

The titles/authors cited here are a sampling of the orgy of book buying I have engaged in since I got my Kindle 6 months ago. There is NO BARRIER between me and the impulse buy. The only books I have to think about require a trip to a bookstore or shipping. I was already researching online before one of the very treasured visits to a physical bookstore. What if. What IF. What if I never get to a bookstore again in my whole life? That won’t happen because I love bookstores. But in the last six months, I’ve bought fifty books. This vastly outstrips my previous buying habits, which were limited by my ability to get to a bookseller and browse.

The sky is not falling by raining digital books. We want them, we love them, we’re ready for them. There will be more of us. eReaders will get cheaper and more of us will have them. Please, publishing houses, Amazon, B&N, Apple, and whoever else. Please. Just figure it out. We’ll pay for the books. Just make them available. And after that, make them quality.

Thank you,

Random Middle America Book Girl (Read: your target market.)


General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    tea says:

    I read the Soulless book on a whim, too, and roared right into book two. And gave a strangled shriek at the conclusion of said book, because I did not have book three.

    I was on an airplane at the time.

    I will always love paper and ink more—but the ebooks have really served me well, and I love, love, love them.

    Give us more, publishers!

  2. 2
    Renee says:

    I could have written an email just like this!

    I got my Nook in May and already have 75 books in my digital library (several of those multibook bundles).  I used to read about 5 books a week…I think I’ve nearly doubled that now that I can download books in bed at 1AM.

    I’d also never purchased a Harlequin title before my Nook.  I read them as a kid, snagging them from my Mom and Grandmother, but never once did I open my wallet at a book store to buy one.  Thank you eharlequin for putting free titles out there!  After I devoured a few of those I was only hungry for more and happy to pay.

    I miss my weekly (sometimes twice weekly) trips to the bookstore.  I’m sure my local shop has a “have you seen her” flyer with my picture posted by the register.  But as much as I would like to support the small business…I love the instant gratification more.  I’m sure I’ll be back to browse again someday, but I probably won’t be making purchases.  You know what they say, “Once you go digital….”

    Glad to know I’m not the only one purchasing titles I never would have picked up before with joyful abandon.

  3. 3
    ghn says:

    The world of digital publishing has changed over the last couple of years. I love my e-books, and have a lot of them, and I prefer digital editions these days (mainly because my bookshelves are stuffed full to the point of collapse with Dead Tree editions already).
    Shopping for e-books used to be fun and simple – I had a weekly visit to Fictionwise, where I would buy whatever that was new that week that I was interested in. Occasionally there would be one that I wouldn’t be able to get because of geographical restrictions (GR).
    Then they tightened up the controls on GR, but I still made my weekly shopping trip to Fictionwise. I would shop much less, but I would be able to make a nice list of the books I was interested in with GR, and I would take that list and shop elsewhere – and most of the time I would be able to buy them.
    Now? I visit Fictionwise, yes, and sometimes there will be something of interest to me there that I am permitted to buy, and I can fairly often add something to my list of “shop for elsewhere” (though more titles is added to that list from other places on the web nowadays)- and sometimes I actually get to buy those interesting books at other e-bookstores.
    distance86 – yes, there seems to be so much distance between me and new ebooks these days that a lot of them are out of reach. It is frustrating!

  4. 4
    Carin says:

    Before buying my Sony, most books I bought were used off ebay or at Borders/BN when I got a superduper 40% or more off coupon.  So, I like a deal. 

    Now (post Sony) I’m buying MORE books.  Night before a trip, download in one click.  I’m there.  Favorite author’s new book that I don’t want to wait for from the library?  I want it, but all the kids are underfoot – no need to take them all to the store.  Click.  New book.  But I still like a deal.  So I’m shopping at fictionwise (well I used to) and now ARe.  I feel like I’m getting a deal.  If the Sony ebook store would send me a coupon?  I’d be all over it!  Actually, probably half of my buys have come during really good sales at fictionwise and ARe.  And you know what I CAN’T buy at fictionwise and ARe?  Books by agency 5 whatever publishers.  (I still don’t understand that whole mess, just that these publishers will only allow a deal/bargain/coupon in paper form, not digital)  So, it turns out I’ve been buying more Harlequin and small digital pub books. 

    So, publishers and book sellers, I beg you, respect the digital book consumer. Sell yourselves on ARe! Throw us a coupon!

  5. 5
    Sycorax says:

    I’ve only started buying digital books this year, and they’re a godsend. I suffer from chronic pain from RSI, and reading on a computer screen is less painful than on paper. Unfortunately, I have the same problem as ghn. Geographical restrictions are a curse. It’s like walking through a bookshop where there’s a thick layer of glass over the shelves. You can see the books, but can’t get to them. So frustrating!

  6. 6

    Thank you for sharing this.  I was first published in digital format in 2001 and it’s been a long, uphill slog to help folks understand that ebooks are user friendly.  Hearing back from satisfied readers makes my day.

  7. 7
    MissFancy says:

    Yeppers, this is what publishers don’t seem to understand about ebooks yet.  Along with:
    ~Most people aren’t pirates.  I personally haven’t the first clue how to crack DRM.  Hell, I rarely sideload because it’s kind of a pain in the patoot.
    ~People who would normally wait for the paperback (used, even) are now buying the e version when the book is first published.  Ebooks are not competing with hardback *at all*.  Instead, pubs are getting money from me that would otherwise have gone to Half Price.
    ~If pubs would put author’s entire backlists out for a bit cheaper or bundled, we will buy.  For serious.  I would mortgage the cat to have all my childhood faves on my nook—Little House, Anne of Green Gables, Betsy-Tacy, etc.  Not to mention my constant re-reads like Daphne DuMaurier and Shirley Jackson.  I’ll even take a crappy scanned version like Google books.  Gen Xers like me are ridiculously easy to manipulate via nostalgia.  Go ahead, use us.  We like it.

  8. 8
    liz talley says:

    I’ve definitely blown my book budget each month on digital books. Yeah. I have to give myself a budget after that first month. I’ve also bought titles I wouldn’t have normally bought in the bookstore, so it’s really expanded my horizons – Samhain, Wild Rose Press, etc. And as a new Harlequin author, I have to applaud eHarlequin’s efforts with those free books. Like another commenter, before I targeted Harlequin, it had been years since I’d purchased a series book. When I picked them up, I found myself buying more and more of them. Now with them being $3-$4 on my Kindle, I can get more books and not feel guilty. I can read one in one setting by the pool…and still have money for another the next day. I’m loving that and the fact that I can read about a book on a blog and one minute later I can read the book. Sweet.

  9. 9
    Kalen Hughes says:

    Add to the list of happy impluse ereaders . . . esp since I downloaded Kindle PC and can test stuff out before I buy it (I’m a Cybook girl and have no intention of switching to a Kindle). And yes, I’ve loaded the damn thing with all my favorite re-reads. Just finished re-reading all of P.C. Hodgell’s Godstalk series so I could dig into the new release. *sigh* 20 years, 5 books, and I’m still hooked.

  10. 10
    Carin says:

    @MissFancy Anne of Green Gables?  I love that book!  Get it free here:

    There are a lot of old classics whose copyright has run out that are now available free.  Publishers repackage them and sell, but they really are free, not pirated.  Enjoy!

  11. 11
    Scribblerkat says:

    I’m published in ebooks and buy ebooks. (I also buy paper books and audiobooks. What can I say? I love love love to read!) My only complaint about ebooks is that they can be much less expensive. I am hoping that, now that the ball is rolling, they will become more popular and therefore are seen as more marketable, and the price will come down. Then I’ll be buying about 20 a month!

    Note: I have a Sony. Love it. But would not kick a Kindle out of bed.
    Note: Right on for J.D. Robb!!

  12. 12
    Jeannie says:

    I would like to second everything that’s been said here. I got my Kindle back in March and now have over 50 books downloaded. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a bookstore but like some others here my bookshelves are overflowing with dead trees.

    One thing I don’t think very many people talk about but I’ll broach the delicate subject: Erotica.

    I personally never thought I would enjoy it as much as I do. (Hooked on Lorelei James’ Rough Rider Series!) Most of these books are not available in paperback and if they are not a lot of women walk around with them because the covers scream ” This book is full of naughty sex!” With an eReader you can download in the privacy of your own home and no one is the wiser. Get my drift? Come on, ladies … I know I’m not the only one out there.

    Spam word forward54 – I look forward to my 54th download.

  13. 13
    Jane Holland says:

    Great to hear this, as I’m poised to launch a brand-new romance and erotic romance publisher called Embrace Books, a fiction imprint of long-established international company Salt Publishing. We’ll be launching in Spring 2011 with mainly digital titles – a departure for us, as we’ve always been print up till now. Fantastic to hear that so many other people are thinking like us, that digital downloads are the future for books, and that being able to ‘shop’ without kids, at any hour of the day or night, and read your chosen title a few seconds after ordering it, is just incredible!

    Not to mention, yes, being able to indulge in something a bit hot and steamy in the privacy of your own … well, wherever you want to read it.

    Thanks for posting this.

    (who buys romance ebooks by the shedload)

  14. 14
    Las says:

    If pubs would put author’s entire backlists out for a bit cheaper or bundled, we will buy.  For serious.

    Oh my God, yes! There are so many older books that I would kill to see in digital format. I keep hearing about all these awesome books that are out of print and/or by authors who no longer write, and I want to read them so badly!

  15. 15

    I love digital books – picture me in Cairo with even less choice at my local bookstore. When I got my e-reader four years ago, it was a way for me to get current books with the click of a mouse.

    I’m also happy to have all of my own books available digitally for a very reasonable price. My latest is available through Smashwords in multiple formats (no DRM) and will soon be distributed through Sony, Apple, Kindle, etc.

    I myself may have to give up my antiquated but beloved reader in favor of something more modern shortly. Still making up my mind about Kindle vs. ??  I love the backlight on my current reader but that doesn’t seem to be a standard feature in the latest models.

  16. 16
    sandir says:

    For some reason my impulse ebook buys late at night in bed are always cookbooks. But yes I do love ebooks and my horizons have also expanded to all sorts of new book categories.

    I buy so many more ebooks than print books that I really try to avoid high ebook prices. I’m currently trying to stick to ebooks that are priced less than the print books but that will be difficult if I ever plan to read any more books by Julia Quinn or Susan Elizabeth Phillips on my Kindle. sigh

  17. 17
    Inga says:

    I love being able to finish a book on my kindle and just click and get the next in the series.  I’m working my way through J.D. Robb, which I had never read before, and Christopher Moore (could not resist the Lust LIzard of Melancholy Cove), and Janice Kay Johnson and lots of others.  Originally I did not buy ebook copies of books I already owned in paperback, but I had an impulse over the weekend to re-read Lord Perfect, and I couldn’t find the paperback copy.  So I just clicked and voila … I read it all in one day, and then I had to click on Mr. Impossible …

  18. 18
    ghn says:

    Oh, yes, I have a folder that is dedicated to the REALLY unashamedly 100000+ on the Scoville scale HOT stuff (otherwise known as erotica.
    I must say one thing about those books – they are REALLY easy to buy on impulse. ZERO &@£!$% DRM or Geographical restrictions. (not like too many on the other books out there!)

    I love your description of the feeling of walking through a bookstore with thick glass over the bookshelves. So near, yet out of reach… Absolutely perfect!
    (In my more pissed off moments – like when I get to the checkout at Diesel books and discover they have removed books from my cart, I usually add a spiteful background chorus of “You can’t buy those books, neener, neener, neener”)

    trial72 – it is getting to be 72 kinds of a trial to shop e-books these days – and forget about impulse altogether!!

  19. 19
    MichelleR says:

    This is the song I’ve been singing forever. Why any pub would want to delay sales until the reader is standing at a bookstore TRYING to remember an author or title she heard about or until after the possibly negative reviews are in …

    My impulse purchases on my Kindle are in the hundreds. No exaggeration. The lost sales because I couldn’t get the books in the format I want, well, that’s also adding up.

    Also, being in Amazon Vine, it’s an odd feeling to get a free copy of something I’d actually wanted to purchase. On one hand, I’m being told I’m not a preferred reader and, on the other hand, the same pub is paying money to offer me a free copy.

    If I get an eBook and like it, want to share it, at his point that means I’m buying hard copies—more copies. I’ve done this both for gifts for loved ones and donations.  I’ve also had a pub not release an eBook in a timely manner, but known someone would love the book and so purchased the hardcover, only to borrow it—it might read as a purchase, but it’s actually a lost sale.

  20. 20
    Kerry says:

    Sycorax said:

    Geographical restrictions are a curse. It’s like walking through a bookshop where there’s a thick layer of glass over the shelves. You can see the books, but can’t get to them. So frustrating!

    This! Exactly!

    I used to do a lot of impulse ebook buying. But now either I can’t buy the books at all or I have to jump through so many hoops I can’t be bothered with the effort.

    And honestly, there are very few books I’d rather buy in paper these days. Ebooks are so much easier to read. I wish they were easier for this non-US person to buy.

  21. 21
    becca says:

    I’m about to inherit my Dad’s old K2 Kindle (he’s upgrading). I’ve already started collecting free ebooks to load on it (once I figure out how). I have a feeling that I’ll buy as ebooks those I consider my “disposable” books – books I wouldn’t necessarily want to give scarce bookshelf space to – for the Kindle, and use paper books for my save/archive books by favorite authors (In Death! JAK!) that I don’t want to risk losing.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Liz says:

    I have recently joined the e-book revolution—I downloaded the kindle for PC (and now the Kindle for Mac).  I haven’t yet bought anything from an author i have never read before, but it has made it easier to have copies of books that i absolutely love than it was when i had to pack up my books and carry them on Megabus from NY to Boston.  I can definitely see how they can make impulse buying more likely, and i probably will indulge at some point in the near future. =)

  24. 24
    Lizabeth S. Tucker says:

    If the Sony ebook store would send me a coupon?  I’d be all over it!

    Sony used to do coupons, but when Borders took over the Connect site, that seemed to change.  On the plus side, with Borders getting heavily into eReaders and eBooks, you will soon be able to use your coupons on downloads from the Borders.com site or in the stores, if they have the digital cafe/kiosk/area.  This is straight from my local Borders’ employees!  I like the idea of visiting a brick & morter store and still being able to get ebooks.

    around35 is the number of books I download each month, mostly free or really, really cheap!

  25. 25
    Crystal says:


  26. 26
    RB says:

    So true for me as well.  I spend way too much money now that I have the kindle for ipad…. I just keep sending myself chapter samples and then forget it—I almost ALWAYS buy the book.  I also got one free download of Laura Adrian and then have bought every book she has written.

  27. 27
    oneflewtoofar says:

    It hurts me to hear that so many actively turn away from paper books now. I understand having options but the idea of not having my books, forever if I need them gives me heart palpitations. Books are my my jewels more personal and private that a pile of gold and gems. Each dog-eared page has memories. The 10th grade Lord of the Flies that gave my nightmares, all the Malory novels by Johanna Lindsey with their rakes and fine boned beauties. These are my history and they look out on me from my bookshelf, when I carry my copy of Tamara Pierce’s Song of the Lioness in my purse it I remember loving it so thoroughly when I was 12 I had to buy a second copy so she could autograph the tattered remains of my first. I understand the convenience, the consumable side of some of the books but half the authors quoted in the email are keeper shelf authors for me, and I don’t trust a flipping kindle to be my keeper shelf. And on the topic of convenience, on my way to the commuter train at 4-o’clock today I bought a Kleypas that I heard about yesterday, I finished it at 8:30, half an hour ago. That is convenient. And it was so good it can live on my shelf for years. If I’d done that with an ebook I’d probably have to buy it twice, once in digital and once in paper. My books are special to me, I would have to not care about a book/author to only have it in ebook. Which I guess is why this email is talking about impulse buying, you may not care as much about an impulse buy.

    Sorry to be a downer but I feel bad for all the printed books that are ignored now. With this viewpoint I feel ancient but I’m only 23 I swear.


  28. 28
    Kate Pearce says:

    I have to admit I’ve always loved my paperbacks, loved having them lining my walls, just loved the feel and smell and touch of them, however, I was recently reading the first two Larissa Ione Demonica books (which I had to order off amazon and wait a week for) and I finished the second on a Sunday evening, on an impulse I picked up my ipad, fired up ibooks and in a second I was reading book #3 and then #4… and I loved the reading experience too, the brightness! the size of the text! the way it displays 2 pages like a real book and I can flip the ‘page’ over.
    Count me among the converted. I fear for my book budget big time :)

  29. 29
    Laurelwreath says:

    I love books, hardbacks, paperbacks, and now e-books.  I have some medical issues that have keep me housebound for a year.  And the sanity saving has been e-books.  I first found my library and when they didn’t have enough I search the web and found fictionwise. Where I bought a ridiculous number of romances,  All of Laurens, Feehan, Mary Balogh, and until a few publishers got arrogant I was going through Jude Deveraux, Hawkins, Jefferies.  Barnes and Nobel even has Georgette Heyer.  I love the format.  I read on the PC but and thinking about getting a netbook for portability sake while I’m in the hospital. 

    I have found a wonderful community of like-minded romance readers and authors.  Yes my pet peeve is the artwork.  We e-book readers usually can get the front cover but the step-back?  Harder to find.  But I keep looking.

  30. 30
    Kristin says:

    I love books, paper, ebook, whatever…just keep the authors writing!

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