Wednesday, January 5, 2011

E-books, E-readers

So the new wave of publishing is here. (Some might say it's been here for a while.)

Writer friends are publishing their books for Kindle, for iPad. Some are publishing only in e-formats, like John Urban with A Single Deadly Truth. Some are putting their out-of-print books up there, like LI Bartlett with her Jeff Resnick series.

JE Seymour just e-published two short stories that feature the same character as in her newly published (paper) book, Lead Poisoning, which she has also put up on Smashwords in all e-formats.

Authors make more money from an e-book than from a printed book. When the struggle to find an agent or small press has failed and you really just want to get your many-times revised and edited work into the hands of readers, it's much more feasible to publish an e-book yourself than to publish it in printed form. And apparently it's not that hard to format the copy for e-publishing, although reports have it that some hair-pulling and perhaps hair-greying is involved. You get some cover art and off you go.

Now, I don't even own an e-reader. I can get the software for free for my netbook, but have hesitated to do so. Maybe because I work on a computer at my day job for way too many hours. When I get home, I want paper, not more screen time. But Sylvia, a frequent-traveler friend, delighted in her Kindle purchase, because omitting 5 books per trip lightened her luggage considerably. I don't think that print will vanish. I very much hope it won't. (And let's not even get into reading a book on a telephone! Or should we?)

What do you think? Do you mostly read on paper or on screen? Should I take the plunge as a reader and then see how it goes as a writer?


  1. I used to feel like you -- I'd NEVER read a book on an electronic device! No, NEVER! Too much enjoyment in holding the book and having the cover in front of me, and putting the book on my bookshelves. *sigh*

    Then my bookshelves threatened to take over my home. Packing 5 or 6 books when traveling was a pain. The nasty print started to get smaller and smaller and my arms needed to get longer and longer .... Well, enter my Nook. Immediate satisfaction. I didn't even need to connect to my computer to get a brand-new book! I could control the size of the print!! I could carry DOZENS AND DOZENS of books with me wherever I went! (Even to the grocery store where I could read while stuck in long lines while only 2 clerks checked out an entire store.) BLISSSSS!

    So, I highly recommend plunging and getting an e-book reader. (I'm biased, I'd suggest a Nook, and while I don't have the new color one, that looks mighty tempting ....) I'm tickled pink for my author-friends that they make more money on their e-book sales than for their 'traditional' books. Save the planet, make more money, and bring satisfied smiles to your readers without them having to trudge to the mall. What could be better?

    And, since your books sound intriguing, maybe you could e-publish your own???

  2. I'm saving up for an iPad. I decided I wanted a choice because I travel a lot and there's never clothes in my suitcase, just books and papers. It's heavy. I love holding and marking in books, and I read and review a book a week. But when I'm finished, I almost always give the book away. Books I don't read, I donate to the library. So why don't I switch? It's an enormous change -- feels bigger than going from a typewriter to a computer, which I also did. Like Joy, I made books as a child and so did my librarian daughter. It feels very disloyal to a way of life and my past to switch to e-books.

  3. By all means take the plunge. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! I love my Kindle and jumped when I had the chance to get my novel, The Shadow Warriors, on it for pin money. I've already sold more e-copies than I did hard copies all last year. And nobody can buy a "used" e-copy. It's a brave new world, but e-readers seem to be selling like the proverbial hotcakes, and you can set a cheap price and see what transpires.

  4. The major drawback to e-books is that you, the beaming, proud author, are unable to personally autograph it for all the wonderful people who helped you and stuck with you through the writing process. :)

  5. I'm both an e-reader addict and an indy e-author. Regardless of the e-reader you choose, I'd lay odds you'll love it. I believe one huge reason is that with an e-reader you can buy more books. I've never tried so many new authors as I have after I got my Kindle, and I've made some wonderful new "friends"! The big "deal" here is reading, not whether a book is digitized or on paper. Be honest. Don't you love the stories more than the way they're delivered?

  6. I have Kindle software on my laptop but just got a Kindle reader. I love it and will probably buy more books because they're cheaper and I don't have to carry them around. However, I still buy print books and will keep on for a few special ones. My house will be better for having fewer books though--I have stacks everywhere, and I still go back and reread some. I like both and hope they're all here to stay.

  7. I, too, am hesitant. Some days I feel like screens are taking over my life... but so many people love their ereaders and... whether we go along or not, I do think it's the wave of the future -- and I would like to get rid of some of these extra books!

  8. Thanks for stopping by, everybody! I am tempted to get a reader, but will probably wait a little longer (yeah, until the bank account recovers from the holidays, at least). Interesting thought about not loading up my already crowded bookshelves any longer!

    And if my agent quest doesn't go anywhere, I will definitely get Speaking of Murder up as an e-book.


  9. I'm a printed-book reader all the way! But then again, I feel that I spend too much time staring at a computer screen in one way or another. Yes, e-readers can lighten someone's travel load, but I don't always want to be "plugged in".

    I also took a long time to jump on the cell phone & mp3 bandwagons, so maybe I just wait the fads out to see what becomes truly mainstream.


  10. I mentioned the word "Kindle" to my husband and he said, "What's that?" Because he shakes his head every time I bring home a new book, I didn't tell him.

  11. I personally like print books. I like to hold them, turn the pages, and, if I own them, underline passages I wish I had written. On the other hand, my husband travels for business and books are heavy to take. He's seriously considering a Kindle. I can see the advantages, but it just doesn't offer the same "book magic" to me.

  12. I think the screen will never cut it for me. I have read enough academic papers on my laptop to know that I lose focus and it makes my eyes hurt. I also spend enough time looking at various screens throughout the day.

    I like interacting with my books, writing in them, dog earing them, seeing them age and weather. a book has no battery, you don't have to power it down when your plane takes off, and it doesn't break when you drop it.