Monday, January 17, 2011

More about $ less about E

Note: Thanks to Steve Weddle for covering while my kids were all snotty all over my keyboard.

I had a more detailed and long winded post about this topic, but when it comes down to it, I have a simple point that can stand on it's own without my own blathering messing it up. Neil Smith has talked about this several times, most recently in a series of tweets about independent bookstores. This whole e-book revolution comes down to two issues:

1)Books are too hard to find
2)Book are too damned expensive.

Back when I was first examining this whole e-book explosion, particularly the popularity of Kindle self-publishing, I spent a lot of time in the forums and Kindle blogs and found that the main reason people went to e-books was not any overriding problem with the standard paper version, but rather the siren song of the $9.99 book. I know the economics of publishing are complicated, some by there own doing, some by necessity, but $25 is too much for a book and nothing is going to change that.

I still pay it once in a while, usually when I'm attending a signing at my local mystery bookstore Aunt Agatha's, but the bulk of my book acquiring has come through Borders (as a Borders Rewards member I routinely get coupons for 44% off of any book) or more increasingly, the public library. Michigan has a great interlibrary system and I don't think there's a book I've wanted that I haven't been able to get somehow through the library. And I don't really feel bad about it because these aren't lost hardcover sales. If these books weren't available through the library, odds are very good I wouldn't buy them.

So Neil said, and I agree, that the best book technology is still the mass market paperback and I wish publishers and reviewers would get over the stupid stigma of it all and work them to their full potential. A great many of my favorite authors (and current bestsellers) started off as mass market originals which is the only way I would have ever discovered them. It's a cheap technology, portable, and easy to share.

So what are your thoughts? Am I missing something here?


Anonymous said...

Reasons I buy on Kindle.

1. Convenience. No waiting, and I don't have to go anywhere. Especially convenient on vacation or the airport.

2. Price. $9.99 for a new release is pretty good. $25 is standard, but you can usually get them for $18. I recently paid $11.99 for Dana Haynes Crashers. I kept waiting for it to go down below $10, but it never happened. Eventually I just paid the extra two bucks, and I'm glad I did.

3. My eyes, my eyes! I think the Kindle is the best reading experience available. It is easy on your eyes and I don't have to shift positions all the time while reading on the kindle (I mostly read in bed).

4. I have been using the library for older books lately (Henning Mankell) but I do like to support authors as much as possible, so I do try to buy books. Bottom line is, I have to draw the line somewhere, so I do get a fair number through the library.

Scott D. Parker said...

My main sources of books nowadays are my iPod Touch (with ebook purchased books from Amazon and, (for purchased audiobooks), and the library. The neatest thing about ebooks is the sample chapters. It's the equivalent to standing in the bookstore and reading the flap and chapter 1. It's nice to be able to do that from anywhere. is great b/c high-profile books are available the day they're published and I can read one book and listen to another, getting two books read in the same span of time.

The library speaks for itself. I'm with Spencer when it comes to older books: it's the library first.

Neil said...

I think TRADE pb is the best. Mass Market is too expensive. Trade PB original will replace the hardcover eventually, for a while, with simultaneous e-pub release. Like Mike Cane said, Kindle now *is* the mass market pb.

Anonymous said...

I tend to prefer the trade PB size better. MMs run to 8 buck most of the time and trades are around 15. I get that one is almost twice the other, but trades better fit in my purse, are easier to hold (and keep in a stack, which is how I carry things around during the school day), & take up less shelf space. I can't get MMs to lie flat, they're always getting lost in my bag, the topple off piles and shelves...

Yeah yeah yeah...I have issues.

Erin said...

Honestly, I know that for me, pricing was part of what got me onto the kindle, but it's not the only thing. I've had times that my mom has lent me a paper book, and I've found that it's just too inconvenient to read after being used to the convenience of the kindle. As a result, I end up purchasing a book that I could be reading for free, since I want to read it on my kindle.

That said, I rarely pay any high prices for kindle books. Most of the books I read are sub-5$, and I read a lot of indie authors.