By Steve Weddle
So BQ took a look at ebooks yesterday. And Chris LaTray has been blogging about his Nook.
My brand new Kindle is going back next week (probably) so that I can get the new one, Aug. 27.
Let's throw all of this into the DSD blender and see what some of the ideas here are.
> Having free or cheap ebooks available online means we're swamped with lower quality works. If we don't have publishers and editors and curated bookstores, how will we find quality?
The idea is that if we have a totally open market ungoverned by corporations,our best seller lists will be filled with poorly spelled, horrific, nearly unreadable, low-quality novels instead of books by James Patterson and Glenn Beck, books in which most of the words are spelled correctly.
The counter-argument to this is: "I don't buy books based on best seller lists. I buy books based on recommendations and reviews."
Yeah, but the reviews go to best selling authors. People hear about books because they've heard about the authors. The system (oh, noes. the systems ruins everything. or is that 'society' that ruins it all?)
So what's wrong with having ebooks straight from the authors? Not enough proofreading? The book hasn't gone through corporate gatekeepers?
Look, I've read tons (seriously, I've weighed all the books I've read. Roughly 47,323 pounds of books.) of great books from big, big, large, enormous publishing houses. I haven't read as many great books that I've downloaded for free. But I'm not convinced one thing has much to do with any other. I've read big house books with typos every 10 pages and flawlessly comma-ed first drafts. Whuppy-damn-ding-dong.
Would I be more likely to read a big house book than some free PDF I downloaded from some dude's geocities site?
But I'm reading three free ebooks right now on my Kindle. And they're great.
You see, years ago if someone wanted me to read some pages she'd written, she'd mail me 20 pages. Then if I survived, maybe another 50. I'd mark up and send back.
Then folks could just email me a PDF and I could read it on my laptop, sitting at my desk or in front of the TV, scrolling through pages until my eyes hurt.
Now my fellow writers can email me a file and I can load it on the Kindle and read it just like a "real book" while I sit on my back deck, drinking iced tea and watching the sun go down. I can read a fantastic zombie novel from a future best-selling author in the exact same way I read the latest John Corey novel.
I haven't seen too many people point this out, but it's phenomenal. I don't have to take my pal's PDF file down to Kinko's for a print-out I can carry to the park. I carry the Kindle and it has the file on it, as well as "books." I dunno, this just seems so handy.
Not only that, but I do a good deal of submission reading for NEEDLE magazine. Someone sends in a 3,500 short story for consideration and I take it with me, not printed out on dead trees, but wedged between some books I'm reading. Handy.
Having this Kindle has allowed me to ignore what the book looks like. I don't know what has thirty blurbs on it and what just got emailed to me. I mean, I DO, of course, but it doesn't stick. The Kindle is the great equalizer. I can't just judge a book by its cover. I have to start reading it and see what holds my attention, whether it's a heist story for NEEDLE or the latest from Michael Connelly.
I'm reading a good deal of unpublished material of high quality on my Kindle, so the argument that the removal of barriers to publication will allow people to read more crap doesn't make too much sense to me.
Like I said, Big House Publisher puts out good books. I know, because I've read some good books that have been on the best seller lists. But you know what? When I've been out there listening to folks, looking around, bouncing from idea to idea, I find some pretty cool stuff, stuff that doesn't pop up on the best seller lists.
Does opening the flood gates to ebooks mean that we'll drown in crap? I don't think so. More likely, I'll fill up my Kindle with some stuff I wouldn't have discovered otherwise, some things I'll want to tell everyone about.
Books will get "blurbed" by email and tweets, by Facebook updates and great blog reviews.
Maybe ebooks will help us more from best seller lists to a list of good reads.