Monday, January 17, 2011

E(vil)-Books and their Readers

Don't forget: My contest ends tonight at 11:59 p.m. (mountain time). I'll be notifying and posting the winner tomorrow morning. Just so you know, I almost tried to end the contest early. You late people, be glad that I figured out my mistake.

Not going to lie - I haven't made up my mind on E-books. Right now, I don't really like them much. At least not right now. I want my book in hand. I want to keep it on my shelf, even if they're overflowing with other books. I want that.

It's not that I don't understand the allure. I get that people love the convenience of having a small reader and dozens if not thousands of books on hand at the touch of a button (and the entering of a credit card number). Yes, I too dream about that. I've entered contests to win them. It would be nice. E-readers are making it possible for writers to more easily self-publish. They are helping bring back out-of-print books into an electronic and available format. They are doing a lot for the publishing industry. It's helping (a very small amount) to cut down on consumption.

Yet, at the same time, I'm still skeptical. E-books have created a virtual black market of piracy that never was here before on a large scale. E-books generally cost less than their paper counterparts, and that's got the publishing world in a knot over how to make money. Also, because of an onslaught of self-published books, there's a lot to sluff through if you're going to find a gem. Plus, I personally just can't give up on losing these precious items in my life in favor of something I can't physically hold and touch.

I work in newspapers, so I know how much the digital era can cost. Newspapers are going out of business and laying off long-time employees because the internet (and the lack of young readership) has killed profitability. I'm worried that E-books could present the same type of problems for the publishing world.

Am I wrong? Am I just being paranoid? Am I fighting the inevitable and am shockingly too old at 23 to see it? I'd like to know. What are your thoughts on E-books? Do you own a reader? If so, will you give up on paper books?

7 comments:

ladystorm said...

Your not the first person to wonder about those things. I don't have a ereader but I have a ipod that I read my ebooks on right now until I can get one. I am not completely sold on the idea of ebooks but I do like the fact that I can take them with me especially if going on a trip. This way I don't have to pack half a suitcase full of books..LOL

I think I like having my ipod to read books on for now because of all the ARC's I can get from Netgalley. :)

Zoƫ said...

I just bought one yesterday actually! I had a lot of gift cards saved up so I only paid the taxes out of pocket. Right now it's a good choice for me because I read a lot of Net Galley review copies and I hate reading at my computer. Also I am moving in a year, and I moved last year, and I'll be moving again in a couple more years, and moving my books will be extremely difficult and likely result in me having to donate most of them, so in the meantime I am trying to borrow mostly from the library and keep my personal collection down to those absolute gems I plan to reread. I agree with all the problems/conflict over ereaders but in the 24 hours I've had mine I've already fallen in love, especially with the ability to read royalty free classics at the touch of a button :)

Sarah Robertson said...

You are wrong. Let me list the reasons:

1) As far as I know, you've never used an e-reader. Sure, they don't sound that great in comparison to books in general, but we could make the same argument between paperbacks and hardbacks. However, reading something on an e-reader is a lot more organic than you probably think it is.

2) Companies are still making money on e-books. The reason they cost less is because you're actually buying a license to read the book, not the book itself. Also, e-books make up a fraction of sales anyway.

3) Wading through the slushpile is nothing new. People have been self-publishing for years and the expectations of readers has not dropped in the slightest. If anything, the need for editors, agents, and publishing houses will increase in order to combat the e-publishing slushpile.

4) I don't think that newspaper and book industries are comparable just because the people reading them are looking for two completely different things. Newspapers are for current events and books are for enjoyment/indulgence. It's easy to become apathetic about news, it's less easy to become apathetic towards pleasure. Also, e-readers actually encourage people to read more than they usually would because it's easier to browse and purchase books - I know this because several people with e-readers have told me this.

5) When thinking about it, the only people that will loose jobs because of e-books will be the people physically working in the printing warehouses. Every other position is still needed. Yes, layoffs suck, but they happen all the time.

Sorry to sound like I'm attacking you, but this is my opinion on the matter. You are perfectly welcome to disagree.

Annerb said...

@ladystorm:

I completely agree in both instances of a vacation and needing to read electronic things, an e-reader would be helpful to have. I just don't think I can give up my paper books. I enjoy them so much better.


@Zoe

I completely understand about the moving a lot. I've moved five times in the last five years, and I have two giant bags (yes bags, not boxes - I was broke and didn't have an boxes available) in the basement of my parent's house. I applaud you lightning your load. And I'm really glad you like your e-reader. I would probably like mine too if I ever got one.

Annerb said...

@Sarah

I'm slightly amused how you start that comment with a blatant "You're wrong" but then at the end you try to be nice and say it's just your opinion.

1) I've played with both the kindle and the nook that my family received for Christmas and my Uncle's kindle this summer. I've messed with them. I've even taught both my mother and my grandmother how to use them. There is something that I just enjoy about actual ink on paper.

2) Yes, they do make money on e-books. That's completely true. What I was suggesting is if it went all electronic and the prices stayed the same (which they most likely would because people would object to sudden hikes in prices). Companies make the most money off hardbacks because of the prices. That's what I'm talking about (if I even articulated that better than before).

3) You are 100 percent correct on this point.

4) I was trying (apparently badly) to draw a parallel example where changes in the industry caused changes for the worse. I wasn't actually trying necessarily to compare the actual industries themselves.

5) You're correct there too.



But what I really want to say, is thank you so much for writing that absolutely amazing, well thought-out response. I can't tell you how happy that made me.

Kate said...

Brenna,

Ok I will throw my 2cents in. I have a kindle and I do love it but that does not mean I don't buy regular books. There is nothing like a nice new hardback from an author you love, I like looking at the desk jacket, feeling the paper and even smelling it. Its purely a tactile sensation, That I won't give up. I still buy books but I buy electronic books too. I read way more now with both options. I like all the free books I can get on the kindle, they are mostly classics that I have always wanted to read.

I also used the kindle like I would a library. Sometimes I get a book at the library and I really love it so I will then go buy it. We've used the kindle this way. We bought the hunger games trilogy and we all got to read it. Then sarah wanted her own copies in hardback so she bought them. So in this case we bought 2 copies of all three books.

So I guess what I think is that there is a place for both formats. I think if the publishing industry would embrace this new technology I think they would find that there are benefits and ways they can use it to generate even more sales. I don't think actual books will ever go out of style. I hope to someday pull one of your books off the shelf.

Kate

Mona said...

I get that e-readers are convenient, especially for trips. I always take too much reading material b/c I never know what I'll be in the mood for.

But I really hope print books/ magazines/newspapers never become obsolete. I like the feeling of the physical item in my hand.

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