Readers Love eBooks. Too Bad Publishers Still Don’t Get It.

sonyIn case you missed it, in February sales of eBooks were up an astonishing 202% from the same month just a year before. To make the news even more impressive, for the first time eBooks exceeded sales of all other formats – specifically hardcovers and, the former staple of romance, mass market paperbacks.

Wow.  Just wow.  This change has happened far faster than I ever would have expected and it reflects a few things that I think are most significant for readers:

  • The enormous ease of eReading.  You want it, you got it without having to worry about whether or not a capricious bookseller will have the book you want in stock.
  • The anonymity of eReading.  While I wish it weren’t the case, women are often embarrassed or uncomfortable reading romance and with eReading, it’s your business and yours alone.

And, even more astoundingly, this growth occurred despite the lame-fisted, ham-handed, stupid, ridiculous, short-sighted, hide-bound, tradition-worshipping New York publishing industry.

You know, what I’m talking about.  The stuff that’s designed to make you feel like you’re doing a bad thing when you buy less than the hallowed dead tree book like:

  • The unabashed debacle that is Agency Pricing. I can somehow hear the Soup Nazi in my head as he repeats over and over again: No discount for you!!!
  • Delayed release dates.  What, I really mean WTF, is up with that?
  • No covers on many books.  So, I’m expected to pay full price for a book and you don’t even give me a cover?  Gee, thanks!
  • Formatting and other errors that publishers really don’t seem to give a damn about.  Think I’m exaggerating?  The eye-opening discussion here proves just how bad it can be.

I’ll be honest: I’m not big on eBook originals by authors unknown to me.  My time is short and there’s a lot of chaff I have to filter before I can comfortably invest my time and my money in the unknown.  I’m sure I’ll miss out on some great stuff, but there it is.  But for authors I do know, hell yeah!  Skip that New York thing and bring your books on home to me in a format I’ve wholeheartedly embraced.

So, let’s have a discussion about eBooks and you.  Here are my questions:

  • Do you use an eReader?
  • Have you ever missed the feel of a book in your hands – something that’s oft sighted by those who haven’t jumped on the eReading bandwagon?
  • If you are one of those who hasn’t jumped, is there anything that could be said to convince you or are you sticking?  Does library eReading now available on other eReaders and coming soon to Kindle make a difference?
  • Are you as disgusted with Agency Pricing and  late releases and…gee, just being treated like second class citizens by New York publishers as I am?
  • If your favorite New York-published authors decided to ePub themselves – as Connie Brockway recently told us she’s doing – will you follow her?
  • Would you like to see more authors go rogue?

- Sandy AAR

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76 Responses to “Readers Love eBooks. Too Bad Publishers Still Don’t Get It.”

  1. Leigh says:

    LOL, this made me laugh:

    “And, even more astoundingly, this growth occurred despite the lame-fisted, ham-handed, stupid, ridiculous, short-sighted, hide-bound, tradition-worshipping New York publishing industry.”

    So going to your questions.

    Love my e-reader (Kindle). I still read library books so I haven’t gone cold turkey on paper books. I do have to say, that it is easy to find a passage to re-read in books rather then e-books. But they are changing the e-books so that the pages are numbered like the book.

    Speaking to the choir on agency pricing.

    Of course I am going to support authors who take a chance and go directly to e-book.

    Go rogue, go rogue, go rogue. I wish that more authors would do this. I DON’T want to cause people to lose their jobs, careers etc. but the publishing industry needs to wake up. I hate feeling gouged, which is what happens everytime I buy an e-book that cost the same as a paperback.

    This last week I read a book (fourth in a series) and decided I wanted to read the first book. I have book credit at the UBS- no book. I checked on line at the library -no book. I called my local book store -no book. Check Amazon and of course this is one of the publishers that have embraced agency pricing and the e-book is the same price as the paperback. I ended up not buying the book.

  2. Doriko says:

    I have been a devoted Kindle user for two plus years, and as someone who commutes via rail for more three hours a day, find it difficult to express how much this device has enhanced not only the reading experience but also my life.

    Have I ever missed the feel of a book in my hands? The short answer is no. The longer answer is I don’t miss trying to find a spot on my bookshelf, attic or under my bed for my 4927th paperback. I don’t miss driving from store to store to find a “must have” title. I don’t miss having to shove an extra chunky item into an already over stuffed and over heavy briefcase. And I *certainly* don’t miss having to endure the smirks of others, while reading a book with a half-nekkid man on the cover.

    Yes I am disgusted and more to the point, baffled, by the red-headed stepchild treatment we’re getting from the New York publishers. I’m not sure why they are not looking to court such a huge potential revenue stream… but appreciate the love that we are getting from some of the smaller publishers.

    I will absolutely follow my favorite authors if they decide to ePub themselves, and on the flip side, have stopped looking for certain authors/titles if their books are NOT available electronically.

    As far as pricing goes, yes, of course I wish I could get my books cheaper. That being said, at this point in my life, an eBook has a greater “value” to me, than does a DTB. If I want to save money, I still have the option of price shopping and buying in the traditional format—but for me, the convenience of eBooks trumps the pricing.

  3. Sessha Batto says:

    I do have an e-reader and love the ability it gives me to try the work of so many authors I never would have come across otherwise. It hasn’t slowed down my purchase of traditional bound books though – although I’ve abandoned the mass market paperback in favor of hardcover and trade paper. There are SO many books not available (or not well suited) to the e-reader – like art and photography books or translations with dual language. Both ways of reading are wonderful, I have no urge to give up either!

  4. Great article, Sandy! For further reading on readers’ thoughts, you might check my blog post from Supernatural Underground earlier this week…it spurred a similar discussion (albeit from a slightly different perspective). :-)

    Always nice to know what the readers are thinking, to be sure!

    Here’s the link:
    http://supernaturalunderground.blogspot.com/2011/04/rapidly-changing-world.html

  5. Magdalen says:

    I’ve had an ereader for about 8 months now. I enjoy it but it’s not converted me away from paper books. But I can see that it’s the way of the future. I just wish commercial publishers saw that future NOW.

    Here are some examples:

    I’ve been told by an industry insider that one major NY publisher believes — up to and including senior management — that it costs as much to publish a book in digital as in hardcover. Ludicrous, but I can well imagine their brains been too unevolved to embrace the need, and urgency, for an entirely new business model.

    I can’t buy the entire backlist of a much beloved Harlequin author in digital. This makes no sense to me. I can’t believe the conversion would cost that much, and once done, it’s done. (No awkward decisions whether to do a fourth print run versus let a book go out of print.) Every time someone goes to buy a book — even a book they own in paper — in a digital format, that’s a lost sale. I agree they can’t convert everything all at once, but I get the impression Harlequin is releasing digital editions as though they’re the same as paper: one a month. Insanity — start churning them out, people: once they’re available, they’re available and sales will trickle in. You don’t need 5,000 sales in a month to justify this transition — 100 sales a month over 5 years gets you the same profit.

    I would have thought it would be easy to get a digital edition pretty close to typo- and typesetting error-free, particularly as it must be easy to revise the copy and refile it. So maybe there are mistakes in the first couple of weeks, but how hard would it be to collect the emails and tweets pointing out errors, fix them, and then the next person to buy the e-book gets to say, “My book was fine.”

    What all of this tells me is that not a lot of people in publishing went to business school. Frankly, dog food companies can modify their business model more efficiently than this.

  6. DabneyAAR says:

    I love my Kindle and believe it enhances my reading experience. Currently I am reading the fabulous and complex novle “The Ten Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoot” by David Mitchell. this book has a raft of characters, many with unusual names and backgrounds. When each character was introduced, I highlighted the section. One, when I encounter someone in the book I can’t remember, I click to see my highlights and, viola, there is the information I need about that person. I have also used–Mitchell is a lover of arcane words–the built in dictionary, again with just a click, to refresh my understanding of a less than familiar word. Mitchell’s book is set in late 18th century Japan, the time of the Forebidden Kingdom, and I have used the Wikipedia link many times in this book to look up information about the era of this book.

    And that’s just the beginning. When I read a series, I can search, from the page of the book I am reading, a word or name in all the books om my Kindle. I just read a the second book in a rich fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss and had forgotten some of the people and places in the first book. Here again, the search feature allowed me to search the earlier book.

    I could go on and on. I am the daughter of a librarian and love reading. My house is filled with books. But today, given a chic, I will be a e-book every time.

  7. DabneyAAR says:

    Excuse my typos. I am learning to type on my iPad and am still rather error prone!

  8. Sunita says:

    @Magdalen:

    My understanding (from Harlequin) is that they are digitizing books that they have in soft files first, as well as those for which they already have the digital rights. The Neels print rereleases (including the older titles) began before Harlequin was publishing ebooks, so while I would think digital rights were included in that contract, they may not have been (e.g., I have a 1996 contract with an academic publisher that did not include digital).

    For books from the mid-1990s and earlier, there are both format and rights issues. So it may not be as straightforward to turn those into ebooks. If the rights are easy to acquire the file may take some work, and vice versa.

    That said, I agree that it would be great if they accelerated their backlist publishing schedule. Or emphasized completing series which are now part e, part print.

    Hell, at this point I’d settle for an easy-to-find list of all the backlist releases! They don’t have one, and when I’ve asked on twitter all I’ve gotten is radio silence.

  9. lauren says:

    I am not sure I will ever embrace the eBook until I am forced to, there is something to be said about opening a book and the feel of it in your hand. But in comment to the HUGE response to eReaders…I say this…new gadgets come and go and become obsolete…but a book that is loved and cared for will last longer.

  10. Jane AAR says:

    I don’t have an eReader, but only because I don’t buy enough new books to make it worth it. Right now, my staples are library books and used books. Now that they offer library downloading, it makes it much more appealing.

    It’s not something I’ll probably get in the near future, but maybe in a year or so (once I have a full-time job!) I’ll invest in one. But I don’t think I could ever totally replace real books with the e-version.

  11. Eggletina says:

    Love the Soup Nazi / Agency comparison.

    I’m an eReader convert (own a Sony, iPad and a Kindle). My preference is for the ebook format when available, but I’ll buy print if there is no ebook edition for something I’m really keen on reading.

    Also, love it when authors go rogue and/or begin reissuing their backlist as ebooks.

  12. Karen says:

    I converted to a Kindle about 6 months ago, although I still have several hundred paper books left in my TBR pile. (I’ve converted some of them to Kindle but of course many older books aren’t available.) The cost of the books is a little frustrating. I’m not reading any less but I’m less likely to try a questionable book if I have to pay $7.99 for it. I’ve tried a few books from small presses but if you have more traditional tastes (I like angsty historicals without too much sex), it can be hard to find anything. The small presses seem focused on erotica and paranormal.

    But my bigger concern is the lack of editing. I worry that when authors switch to publishing in electronic form only, the editing will become less and less (especially if the authors are paying for it themselves) and the quality will go down. It’s hard enough to find a well written book in today’s book market.

  13. Victoria S says:

    I bought a Kindle last year and I gotta say I love it, but with a caveat. Yes, I still buy paperback and hardcovers by my favorite authors. Case in point, I have all of J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series in paper or hardcover, and will continue to buy these in hardcover as long as she writes ‘em.

    I am one who truly likes the feel of a “real” book, and I do still miss that, even with the space-saving advantage of my Kindle. I find re-reading a passage much more difficult even with the new (and only sometimes available) page numbering on my Kindle. I am an infamous “back-of-the-book” reader, and I find this process also challenging with my Kindle.

    I have 115 books on my Kindle and so far 3 of them have formatting errors so bad, the books are almost impossible to read. This is a HUGE problem for me! I mean, come on, the publishing industry has the latest and greatest technology available and they can’t get simple word and sentence structure right?

    But on the other hand, I took my nephew to a kiddie movie a while back, that was not particularly interesting to me. While I was in the movies, I was able to read my Kindle (lighted cover) and not be totally bored. How cool is that! I am going on vacation in July, and my Kindle is coming with, all 115 (probably more by then) books, and I won’t have to pay extra for a room. How cool is that!

    I don’t think anything will convert me entirely away from traditional books, there are just too many advantages to having a regular book in my hands. However, the advantages of a Kindle or similar e-reader are too good to pass up. Before I got my Kindle I thought it was a case of either or, now that I have it, I realize that it’s a case of whatever format works best for me with that particular author and book. We re truly living in the best of times :-)

  14. LeeAnn says:

    I have a Kindle. Love it. Love the chance to get sample chapters of the books I’m considering purchasing…. but the same price for an ebook as for a book annoys me. After searching for an address I wrote one of the publishing companies to complain. Of course, I received no reply. So now I refuse to purchase a book that is priced the same in paperback as it is for an e-reader….. in fact – I buy that book USED and then the publisher doesn’t get anything! It’s a small rebellion but it’s mine.

  15. Michelle says:

    I do not use an e-reader and never will.

    I have actually PULLED all of Connie Brockways books off the store shelves and will do so for any author that decides they want to go e-book only. I’m not going to sell their back list if they yank their front list away from me.

    -Bookstore Owner

  16. Em says:

    I absolutely echo what Victoria S. wrote–we appear to have the same old-fashioned love of holding a “real book” for the exact reasons she cited.
    I’m clearly not as adept at all this new technology as some, and have to reluctantly admit that I’m not sure how to find a specific section of my book, or read a book’s ending first on my Kindle. So, I do continue to buy some of my favorite authors in hard copy or PB.

    I do value my Kindle for the obvious reasons others have mentioned: I love the instant gratification of acquiring a book I want, the fact that others don’t know what I’m reading unless I tell them (I work in academia where the snobs who think I should be reading Proust instead of Putney in my spare time are legion), and that I can travel without a pile of books weighing down my luggage.

    My biggest complaint at the moment is the ridiculous pricing for some ebooks imposed by the short-sighted publishers. The irony is that I could afford it, but view it like the imposition of extra ATM fees by banks. This kind of nickel and diming negates the whole point of the exercise, and annoys the hell out of me. If the ebook is the same price as the regular book, then I too baulk at buying. My little form of rebellion, like LeeAnn, is not to buy the book in question either. I too will instead wait for it at my UBS or, better yet, read it over coffee in B & N without buying.
    It’s the metaphorical sticking out of my tongue at the publishers’ stupidity !

  17. library addict says:

    I have a Sony.

    I dislike agency pricing, but can’t say I’ve never bought an agency priced book. I certainly do not buy as many as I would if I could use those coupons or get them on sale though.

    I have never noticed a delayed ebook release. The books I tend to buy are usually available in e the day of the print release, be it hardcover or paperback.

    There are a bunch of errors in older books which have obviously been scanned and not proofread. Lots of tt for ll, [ for j, 1 for I, etc. But I think copyediting for newer books is just as bad in print as it is for the e versions.

    I still buy my favorite authors in hardcover and mmpb. Sadly for my wallet I sometimes buy the same books in e. But I don’t really have a preference for one format over the other. I love my Sony, but it doesn’t bother me to read in print.

    The no covers is irksome, but easily solved with Calibre.

    I would buy my fave authors in e if that is all that was available. I do wish more authors would get their backlists up for sale in e for books where the rights have reverted to them.

    IIRC the Harlequin backlist titles are at issue for books published prior to 1995 as they do not have e-rights, even if they still have print rights (Books which have not gone totally OOP, so the rights have not reverted to the author). That’s the reason Nora Roberts books aren’t available, as well as the early Linda Howards, etc.

  18. AAR Sandy says:

    @Michelle, Connie Brockway didn’t voluntarily go the ePub route. She went that way only after multiple New York publishers told her they didn’t want to publish what she wanted to write.

    And your point about pulling her books also illustrates my point. So, you’ve pulled her books so anyone who comes into your store who wants her books that are in print will have to go elsewhere. How does that help anyone? You lose a sale and your potential customer is one step closer to going the eReading route. I just don’t see the logic.

  19. Nikki says:

    “…not big on eBook originals by authors unknown…”

    So: Publisher takes a chance on new authors, edits, publishes and _markets_ them, pushes their books in front of reviewers and distributes into book store shelf space and onto grocery store shelves, finally turning them into a well known, “name” author.

    Then the authors go rogue and ePub straight to their fans.

    This is not a sustainable business model.

  20. AAR Sandy says:

    Nikki, I can’t imagine why an author who is well treated by her publisher would go rogue. They’ll keep the stars as they always have.

    It’s the midlisters who will have a real opportunity to shine in ePub.

    But I agree that publishers don’t really have a sustainable business model these days.

  21. Eggletina says:

    Before using eReaders, I was the type who often waited for a book to come out in pb before buying. I do stick to a budget and carefully weigh whether to buy a book now, wait or look for it used. eReaders haven’t changed that. For Romance specifically, I’m not ever going to buy a HC. It will be PB (used or new) or ebook. For other categories, like NF, I might very well want the real book in my hands and for some very specialized books, HC might even be preferable.

    Sandy, I agree with you about book stores boycotting ebook authors. It helps no one to pull print books for ebook authors off the shelves. That store would lose me as a customer (and that tactic punishes the customer). I might own eReaders, but I still shop at book stores and buy print books, particularly for children’s books.

  22. Carole Underwood says:

    I have had my nook for almost a year and enjoy reading ebooks, but more and more I am beginning to miss the real books. For my favorite authors, I will always buy the book because I hate rereading on the nook. I don’t always reread from beginning to end; sometimes I like to browse, rereading certain scenes or from a certain point. Another disadvantage is that I have about 200 books on my nook, half from B&N and half from eHarlequin. Looking at the list of titles tells me nothing – I don’t know if I feel like reading a book again. If I have the books on a shelf, I just look for one I want. Of course, I bought the nook to do away with the storage issue. I don’t know what my “happy medium” is.

    • DabneyAAR says:

      Carole Underwood: I have had my nook for almost a year and enjoy reading ebooks, but more and more I am beginning to miss the real books.For my favorite authors, I will always buy the book because I hate rereading on the nook.I don’t always reread from beginning to end; sometimes I like to browse, rereading certain scenes or from a certain point.Another disadvantage is that I have about 200 books on my nook, half from B&N and half from eHarlequin.Looking at the list of titles tells me nothing – I don’t know if I feel like reading a book again.If I have the books on a shelf, I just look for one I want.Of course, I bought the nook to do away with the storage issue.I don’t know what my “happy medium” is.

      Another thing I love about my Kindle is its organizational features. I have “collections” of books on my Home page. I keep books organized by type (“Ballin’ Bodice Rippers,” “Chic Lit I Love,” etc…) and store in those collections books I would like to read again. I also have collections, by genre, for books I’ve downloaded but not yet read as well as a collection for samples. It’s much easier than my large overstuffed bookcases.

      • DJ says:

        DabneyAAR: Another thing I love about my Kindle is its organizational features. I have “collections” of books on my Home page. I keep books organized by type (”Ballin’ Bodice Rippers,” “Chic Lit I Love,” etc…) and store in those collections books I would like to read again. I also have collections, by genre, for books I’ve downloaded but not yet read as well as a collection for samples. It’s much easier than my large overstuffed bookcases.

        The Nook has organizational capabilities that sound similar, but I’ve had technical difficulties twice with my Nook (and it’s only two months out of the box) that caused customer service to instruct me to twice re-set the device to factory settings, which eliminated all of my organized “shelves.” What a nuisance! So I haven’t bothered to set them up again, and I am in agreement with Carol, that being able to physically browse is really important to me. It’s why I’ve been so sad to see libraries moving more and more to buildings that house lots of computers and fewer books. But the times are changing, and I’ve decided to move with them, because I sure wasn’t stemming the tide. I still like having many books in physical format, but a bunch of paperback genre novels don’t need to be taking up space on my bookshelves… they are better stored in e-form.

  23. xina says:

    I have an ipad and read e-books off the Kindle app. A couple years ago, I was one that stood behind print books and often thought I would miss a paper book. While I still read paper books on occasion, I’ve grown used to reading digitally, and really like it. I like the convenience of taking my books anywhere, I like ordering on a moments notice (although that can be dangerous for my credit card. I have learned.), I like reading my ipad at night…most of the time that is the only time I have to read.
    I would support an author who went rogue. Of course.

    I think it is awful for a bookstore to pull an author’s books after publishing digitally, or going rogue like Brockway. I would not go back to that store. I still buy paper on occasion too. I buy all my cookbooks paper and I buy children’s books too. So, they would be losing my business. Something to think about.

  24. Jan says:

    I am on my second Kindle and, frankly, I don’t know how I lived without it. I travel frequently and read about 4 books a week. The Kindle allows me to have a bookshelf worth of reading material with me wherever I go.

    Do I miss having a print book in my hands? Not at all. My eyesight is aging with the rest of me and the ability to bump up the font size in my Kindle is a blessing.

    As an editor, I absolutely agree with you about the typos, dropped words/phrases and other editing mistakes. There is no excuse for this and I suspect it occurs because a) no one cares about this growing market and b) it’s an intentional overlook by an industry that is in denial.

    Bottom line – you can’t stop progress. ebooks are here to stay and will only grow their share of the market. Publishers are scared. As more authors self-publish or join together in cooperative ventures, the viability of the big publishing houses will correspondingly diminish. It has ever been thus.

  25. Sunita says:

    @Michelle:

    I’m so glad you posted this. I’m not glad that you did it, but since I’m not a patron of your bookstore your actions don’t affect me. I agree with SandyAAR that your patrons who want a Brockway print book will find it elsewhere.

    For the rest of us who want Brockway’s ePub venture to succeed, you’ve just given us a great reason to go out and buy every ebook she publishes. I happen to have her entire OOP backlist in print, but thanks to your actions, I’ll now buy the e-versions as well.

    Connie Brockway has given me and other readers a great deal of pleasure over the years. She owes me nothing more than that. I wish her every success in her new venture and I’ll do what I can to help her and other others succeed in it.

  26. Michelle says:

    Everybody takes a stance the way they see fit. Sandy has issues with Agency pricing, it’s her blog, it is her right to say or do what she can about it. Some buy used instead of new because they don’t like agency pricing. Again, that is their right. It is MY store and if I chose to pull an author off the shelves for whatever reason then I have that right. Look, I like Connie’s work but I can’t rec her to my customers and then have them want her new books that I CAN’T sell.

    There is no logic in me handselling an author’s backlist if they will not provide me with their front list. So it becomes a matter of “you need to buy all of her future books from Amazon or BN because she is not making her books available to me to sell” so either way I lose the customer. I sold Connie Brockway to people who had never heard of her because I believed in her work as an author. The issue is that authors want me to continue to do that even though I can no longer sell their front list. That is a booksellers job to get customers to read the backlist so that they can then sell the front list. Connie has now taken my ability to do that away. I’m sorry that as bloggers or as readers you can’t understand this from a booksellers point of view. She CAN make her books that her Pub refuses to buy available in print form, she just chooses not to. That is my complaint.

    I am not talking about BN/Borders, I am talking about the small local stores that everybody complains don’t exist anymore. This is just one more nail in the coffin. I’m not boycotting her books on principle, I’m just not going to hand sell her anymore and If I’m not handselling them then they aren’t going to sit and stagnate in print on my shelves. It simply costs too much.

    You gals have given me something to think about though. I’m not trying to alienate customers, I’m trying to retain them in an industry that is trying to get rid of me and make what I do obsolete.

    -Michelle

    • AAR Sandy says:

      Michelle: That is a booksellersjob to get customers to read the backlist so that they can then sell the front list. Connie has now taken my ability to do that away. I’m sorry that as bloggers or as readers you can’t understand this from a booksellerspoint of view. She CAN make her books that her Pub refuses to buy available in print form, she just chooses not to. That is my complaint.

      Michelle, not to beat the proverbial dead horse, but how is Connie making a choice not to put her book in print? The only print option available to her is Print on Demand. There are some options for booksellers there and Connie said she would be looking into it. But how is a private author supposed to print and distribute books to bookstores? It would be impossible and I think you’re blaming the author when you should place the blame elsewhere.

  27. Barbara says:

    I have a color Nook which I absolutely look. I still have their older version which I take to the gym most days. I purchase about 75% ebooks and the rest are either PB or the very occasionally HC. I have gained the ability to travel with just a small, thin device rather than 4 or 5 books in my bag. I also can get a book with just a few clicks or finger points. Ebooks have opened up a entire other world of books that I would not have seen if I did not have the ereader. There are now several ebook only publishers and I have bought several ebooks from them. Books that I would not have been able to read otherwise.

    The things that do frustrate me is publishers discounting the PB but not the ebook and most of all those that do not release the ebook the same day as the PB. Really…..I have to wait how many more days for the ebook?!?!

    I will certainly continue to purchase PB/HC but obviously in much smaller quantities. I have a lot more storage space on my shelves and keepers are right there when I want to re-read them. The nook allows me to shelve my favorites, to place bookmarks on favorite pages, highlight sections and even write notes.

    As for those authors who are going to self-publish: The quality must be high or else I will not return. Even for favorite authors, if the book is not well edited, has major format/font issues or does not display well, I will not purchase any further. That means “get it right the first time”.

  28. sula says:

    I have a Kindle now, and I read about 50/50 e-books and paperback. I’m on a tight budget, so I use my local library a lot and was delighted to learn this week that Kindle downloads are supposed to be coming soon. I still like print books, and I’m sure I’ll continue to buy some on occasion.

    As for pricing, publishers are going to have to wrap their heads around the new paradigm and change with the times or they are going to become obsolete. I’m not an expert (although I do have an MBA) but it seems as if the powers-that-be have gotten complacent with their monopoly and haven’t given much thought to the future.

    The petty immaturity of “pulling” an author’s books to punish them for going e…well, it makes me laugh. Seriously? Thanks for giving me more incentive to purchase Ms. Brockway’s work in electronic format.

  29. Magdalen says:

    @Sunita — Well, obviously I don’t know what rights Harlequin has to rerelease in digital Betty Neels’ books. She’s dead, so they would have to negotiate the rights to the books they don’t already have going to e (there’s a baker’s dozen of Neels’ titles available digitally) with her estate. Whatever the status that legal situation, I would think there’s money to be made even if they have to kick back some percentage of the sale price to Neels’ heirs. (Which they must already do in those cases where they have the rights to rerelease in a digital format. It could be her heirs would ask for a larger percentage going forward.)

    My point, of course, was not to criticize Harlequin for not acquiring the rights to certain authors’ backlists (with the hundreds of authors and thousands of titles, which backlists do you pay to release digitally?), but simply to say that if they have those rights, don’t release books one at a time. Yes, I was thinking of Betty Neels’ because I do know that they were (or are) releasing her books digitally one per month. But there have to be other authors that Harlequin can legally release digitally. And in those cases, it would make sense to me to get everything released as quickly as possible so that someone looking for one of those titles for an e-reader can buy it now.

    Incidentally, the earliest title of Betty Neels’ backlist that has been released digitally was first published in 1995. If HQN’s contract with the late Neels (who died in 2000) had boilerplate language that permits rerelease in all formats including digital as early 1995, there are at least 16 titles they haven’t released yet. So — if they do nothing else — release those 16 titles.

  30. willaful says:

    * Do you use an eReader? — yes, a Nook, Also sometimes my husband’s kindle or an ipod.

    * Have you ever missed the feel of a book in your hands – something that’s oft sighted by those who haven’t jumped on the eReading bandwagon? — I don’t consciously, but when I’ve been reading ebooks for awhile, I get a desire to switch back to regular books for awhile. The same also happens in reverse however.

    * Are you as disgusted with Agency Pricing and late releases and…gee, just being treated like second class citizens by New York publishers as I am? — Word.

    * If your favorite New York-published authors decided to ePub themselves – as Connie Brockway recently told us she’s doing – will you follow her? — In the blink of an eye.

    * Would you like to see more authors go rogue? — Most definitely, more power to them!

  31. elaine mueller says:

    i don’t have an e-reader — yet — but i recently put the kindle app on my pc and i’m delighted with it. and i applaud those authors who are going to e-publishing to have more control over their careers, more flexibility in what they write and publish, and a higher share of the profits. you go girls!

    i can understand where a bookseller might be miffed at being (potentially) deprived of their livelihood but i think the attitude of some people is pretty peevish and spiteful.

    the convenience of having lots and lots of books in a light-weight electronic device just sounds great to me. being able to adjust the size of the print, too, for when my eyes are tired. woo hoo!

    and while i love buying books that have lots of illustrations — quilt books especially — i have a feeling it’s not going to be too much longer and e-books will have all the capabilities that the WWW gave us back in 1995. when i first went online in 1991 with prodigy, graphics was still in the future, videos and youtube and hulu and all that stuff was hardly a dream.

    somehow or other reviewers are going to have to adapt, too, and start making some provision for the e-published material. maybe in addition to the a,b,c,d,f, and dik grades, dnf will have to become part of the grading scale. sometimes all it takes is a chapter or two to know it’s just not going to be worth spending time on, but if there’s the chance to find a new author, why not??

    elaine

  32. Dhympna says:

    I have a nook (which I have had for over a year) and I also read on my laptop and netbook using either Calibre, Nookstudy, or ADE.

    Most of my digital reading is for fiction. The other 50% of my reading is academic stuff in physical form. So, no. I don’t miss the physical book while reading. I only tend to miss it/them when writing because I have a post-it system. ;)

    I find myself buying more and more digital books that are not affected by agency pricing–usually from digital pubs. Given how much I read and how much I buy annually, that is a large (for me) chunk of change that NY pubs are no longer getting. I also find that the NY pubs keep publishing the same tired stuff (not always, but you know what I mean) and I can find more unique reads elsewhere.

    I already follow some of my faves who have “gone rogue” and would prefer that more do so as my wallet would be happier. :)

  33. biteythingy says:

    I was not sold over the whole e-reader idea until I got my Android. Then I got Alibris. Now any time I am waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, or anywhere I need to sit around like my time isn’t valuable too, I now take the power back and read short stories on my phone. I can get free books or purchase them from any site that sells epub. I will not pay the same price for an e-book as the paperback because I figure they have saved on the printing, shipping, store space, etc. and should pass the savings onto me. If they decide not to do so, I just by it used–I can wait and will not explode with anticipation.

    What does this mean to my buying habits? I still buy print books by authors I know and love, especially if I already own all their other books that are in a series. I also don’t want to read longer books on a small screen so until I actually buy a proper e-reader, I will not buy longer books in e-format. The real difference is in the new authors I read. I am willing to buy shorter novels, short stories or anthologies by new authors if the price is good; I will no longer pay full price for a new author I have never heard of and there is usually no need to–there are too many sites where authors self-publish or were I can get points towards future purchases or rebates to try a publishers products.

  34. Tacilija says:

    I have a nook and I love it. I still read the paper books occasionally, but I find that I prefer digital books. One of the issues – for me – is storage, which is why I scaled my paper book buying waaaay back a while ago. Before nook, I read tons of library books, but it is hard to keep track of all the books my family borrows, so I often end up paying late fees. Nook is just one device and if I am not reading, I keep it in my purse, so that makes my life easier – I always know where it is :-)

    I do not miss holding a paper book in my hands at all, they actually seem a bit heavy and awkward now.

    Agency pricing sucks rotten eggs and I do not buy ebooks if they cost as much as a dead tree book.

    It is true that devices may become obsolete, but I don’t think computers ever will, so there will always be a way to read ebooks. Converting software is available to everybody, so I don’t think that ebooks will go away any time soon.

    I would absolutely support an author who goes rogue – if I like her first book ;-)

  35. DJ says:

    Yes, I own a Nook.

    Yes, I sometimes miss the feel of physical books, and read them often as well. I don’t miss having to store a bunch of books I purchased though, or tote a ton of them around with me on a trip.

    I am increasingly enraged by the fact that e-books are not much cheaper than real books. And the formatting errors are an extra annoyance, given the price I’m paying!

    I’m also super annoyed with the proprietary aspect of many readers. I bought the Nook solely because it would let me read library books. I actually wanted a Kindle, I like that machine much better, and now Kindle is saying later this year, library books will be an option. Which somehow just ticks me off even more, because I put off buying an e-reader until a couple months ago, hoping Kindle would see the light, but now I’m stuck with Nook, because I can’t read their books on a Kindle.

    I’d give an author going out on their own a try, but if the price was higher, probably not.

    Basically, I really have mixed feelings about e-books.

  36. Victoria S says:

    A second e-book vs Traditional opinion. I am just the opposite of Sandy. I have used my Kindle to get to know authors previously unknown to me. Because of my Kindle I have read Emma Wildes, Beverley Kendall, Lisa Gardner, Joanna Bourne,Julie Garwood, Dee Henderson (Christian romance writer), Stuart Woods, Jennie Lin, Jade Lee etc.. I have pared down my shelf space to authors I am already enamored of and gotta have traditional books by; J. D Robb, Nora Roberts, Loretta Chase, Mary Balogh, Deanna Raybourn, C.S. Harris, Linda Howard etc. I am reluctant to use shelf space for an author who is new to me, as I have finally realized how very precious and shrinking is the space I will need in the future for traditional books.

    As mentioned by other posters, I love the sample chapters you can download before you buy a book…kinda like a test drive on a car :-)

    Another thing I like about my Kindle. I have learned how (finally) to download music onto my Kindle, so now, not only can I read anywhere, anytime, but I can listen to my favorite song while I do it.

    I only slightly miffed about no covers, but since the Kindle is black and white I am only slightly put out by this. Besides, sometimes I really HATE the covers of my favorite books (wouldn’t it be great if this “no cover” thing got publishers to do better and more accurate covers). What I’d really like to see is my Kindle in color!!! Awesome!

    The one thing that truly concerns me about the Kindle is having to rely on Amazon. Don’t get me wrong I was using Amazon about 90 % before Kindle, and have always been pleased with their selection and service. Now that I have a Kindle I am almost 99.999% Kindle and the other tiny percent UBS. I use traditional book stores mainly for my 7yr old child’s’ books, as most of them are still in color. But I gotta tell you, WHEN Amazon comes out with a color Kindle, and if they run another $114 special like they have out now. Everybody on my house is gonna be on e-books!

  37. Karenmc says:

    I’ve been reading on my iPod Touch and iPad for about three years. I still have a boatload of paperbacks, although most of them are from USB’s. The only time I buy an Agency-priced book is when I find it for 25% off at Target.

    I just finished a paperback last night. I enjoy holding books, and have a nice fabric cover with an attached bookmark ribbon. On the other hand, an ereader is so doggone handy, especially if I’m away from home.

    I’m sorry that Michele has chosen to remove Connie Brockway books from her store. Change can be difficult, especially when it happens as quickly as the ebook tidal wave. I’d suggest she take a step back, look at what she CAN do to keep her store profitable, and concentrate on that. Removing merchandise from the shelves isn’t going to add to her bottom line.

    As far as Brockway’s decision to strike out on her own, I’m delighted. I’m keeping track via FB and Twitter of the status of the new releases she’s working on.

  38. Michelle says:

    It’s NOT immaturity. It is a business decision. I didn’t get into a huff and strip her books just because. I sold what I had left and chose not to reorder because I am NOT going to handsell her backlist and then have to direct MY customers to an e-reader to purchase her new books. Do you go into Best Buy and they send you to Amazon because you can only get XYZ DVD there? No… that is what I will have to do. I will literally have to tell my customers to go elsewhere. That is just not something I am willing to do. Bookstores are struggling, we are struggling to compete, we are struggling to stock when we don’t get the same discounts as the Big Guys or can afford the same square footage. Now we have to compete with a new format that can deliver the book EVEN cheaper OR deliver a book that I can’t even sell. I can compete with e-books but not if the book is only available in an e-format.

    I have to do what I have to do to compete SO if that means I spend my $50.00 that month on stocking the backlist of an author who continues to print books that I can sell then that is what I am going to do. It’s not about being juvenile, it’s about doing whatever I can do to keep people coming in to my store and staying off of Amazon/BN.

    Will I sell the Brockway anthology that she is writing for Avon or ANY other author that gives me a product to sell? Of course I will and I will continue to sell “Dead Tree” books (which by the way is an offensive description) as long as I am able.

  39. renee says:

    I have a sony, nook and the kindle app on my android phone.

    I was an early e book adopter. I have had the sony for about 3 years now. It surprised me that I did not miss the feel of a book but I admit the convenience and privacy afforded me with my e-reader has totally sold me on e books. And with the wireless option, I don’t have to wait to have a new book in my hands. :) .

    I am frustrated by Agency pricing and I think publishers are not considering the big picture and the move of technology when they adopt such practices. The pricing model has caused me to reduce my purchases from some publishers largely because of distaste with the practice. Given how much I spend on books, the publishers should want to remain my friend.

    These practices plus the limitations placed on authors regarding the types of books they want to write will cause me to follow authors who decide to go the ePublishing route. Frankly if more authors went rogue maybe the “New York Publishers” would have to get a clue and start being more proactive with the new digital marketplace and stop being hinderances to the changes that are on the horizon.

  40. Michelle says:

    @Karenmc

    I’m trying to do just that ;) !

  41. Sandir says:

    I’m very unhappy with how the publishers have treated those of us who buy their ebooks. In fact I was so annoyed after the recent decision by HarperCollins to add restrictions to library lending on their ebooks that I’ve officially stopped buying ebooks and print books. Instead I bought a nook classic to read library ebooks and I buy only used print books. Before Agency Model I was happily spending $100 a month on ebooks for my Kindle but I’m much happier now and reading even more with the library ebooks. I joined the Free Library of Philadelphia as a non-resident to have even more ebook borrowing options.

    I have contacted publishers and Amazon maybe 30 times in the past 2 years about poorly formatted ebooks riddled with typos. Guess how many have updated those ebooks to fix the errors? None of them and all the ebooks are still for sale. Publishers need to stop looking for ways to raise their already high ebook prices and focus on giving us a quality product first.

    BTW, I agree about missing the cover art on many ebooks.

  42. Kel says:

    I have both a Sony PRS-505 and a Kobo reader. I love them both for different reasons. I got the Sony years ago when my commute was about 3.5 hours a day on public transportation, and the weight savings and convenience can’t be beat.

    I read a lot. I have both hardcopy and ebooks, some authors/series in both. Specifically, I’ll buy the ebook copy when the book comes out in hardcover (especially for series that started in paperback and then transitioned to hardcover later), and then pick up the paperback when it comes out. There are very few authors I’ll bother to buy in actual hardcopy hardcover anymore – I just don’t have the shelf space.

    I adore being able to check ebooks out from the library. Both the Sony and the Kobo are library-compatible, which is a joy that you poor Kindle owners just can’t experience. I can check the book out while the library is closed, and never have to worry about remembering to return it when my borrowing period is up. It’s a beautiful thing.

    While I understand loving the feel of a book, for me, the only reason to have a hardcopy is for book formats that haven’t been translated well to e-copy – text books, art books and reference books, specifically. Poetry too doesn’t fare well in ebook.

    But for the simple pleasure of words, ebooks cannot be beat – I don’t have to worry about papes coming loose or tearing from over use (I re-read) and I don’t have to carry a heavy book or two with me. The reader fits into my coat pocket, bicycle saddle bags or glove comparment with ease.

    About the only thing I find truly annoying is being told to turn my non-networked book off on an airplane; It radiates about as much signal as a digital watch, and only when I’m turning the page.

  43. Lynn M says:

    I have my Sony eReader for about a year and a half, and I’m still a mixed convert. What I usually do when I want a particular title is check for pricing differences between the printed book if I go to the store, the price if I order it via Amazon, and then if I’ll get any kind of price break if I download the e-version. If I do get a price break, then I go the ebook route. Otherwise I’m just as likely to order via Amazon.

    I love having the ebooks, but one of my biggest issues is the whole DRM problem. When I buy ebooks at the Sony eReader store, I can’t upload them on to any other device. Granted, I haven’t taken the time to figure out how to strip DRM, but I shouldn’t have to. If I buy a book at the store, I own it outright and can take it anywhere I want. But if I buy the book for my Sony eReader, I’m stuck. That’s a huge turn off for me.

    But my bookshelves are starting to overflow, and I love that I can just slip my eReader in my bag and have a virtual library of choices.

    I fully support writers who go rogue, especially if they aren’t being allowed to write the books they want to write based on publisher demands or restrictions.

  44. Carrie says:

    I have an ereader. In fact, I have two, a Kindle and a Kobo. However, I generally prefer to read print books. I like being able to move around in the book easily and find passages, check facts, re-read sections, etc. I also like t be able to pick up a book and open to a favorite scene or just randomly read sections. The ereader seems impersonal somehow. I can’t really explain it. That said, I do buy ebooks, and I’d buy a LOT more if not for agency pricing. I rarely pay retail for print books, so I’m sure not going to pay retail for ebooks. Agency pricing has definitely impacted how I use my ereaders. I won’t buy ebooks from the 6 publishers involved. Because of that, I’ve ended up using my ereader mostly for free ebooks, indies, or other bargains. Lastly, I can share my print books, but sharing ebooks is more difficult, which I find irritating. I generally buy a print copy of books I think my daugher may enjoy. I do share both ereaders with my husband, which isn’t a problem, and I share the Kobo with my kids. Because of that, I don’t buy many romance books for the Kobo reader. Mainly books I don’t the younger kids perusing if they get curious.

  45. Greta says:

    I have a Kindle. I prefer to read on screen these days. In particular, I’ve used the device to pick up reads from authors who are unknown to me. I’ve bought a number of works from small publishing houses and self-published books, too. It’s easy enough to download a sample to check on quality before committing to a purchase. Sure, there’s some awful stuff out there – but some of it is exceptionally good and much better than the franchised rubbish churned out by the big houses.

  46. RobinB says:

    I’ve had a Nook for a year–briefly considered upgrading to the Nook Color, but since I don’t have kids, and most of the books I download are fiction, I decided to stick with the original Nook!
    I still read print books, primarily because I have a HUGE backlog of paperback romances that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet. Also, when I read at night, just before turning in, old instincts kick in and I like to have a “book” in my hands as I read. However, I travel frequently, and packing one Nook, as opposed to 4 or 5 paperbacks definitely helps with the weight allowance when traveling by air! :)
    As for lack of cover art–I really don’t miss it, especially with romances. I actually prefer covers that are more subtle, rather than what’s popular now (i.e. a depiction of a shirtless male who looks like the poster boy for steroid use, or a couple in a hot and heavy clinch!). I suppose that’s because I fall into a category of reader that Sandy mentioned in her post–that is, not many of my friends and relatives know that I read romances!! Which, to tell the truth is one of the reasons why I bought the Nook!

  47. Lynda X says:

    How long do you htink it will be before an e-book reader will be sold that is compatible with all sellers, as well as the electronic books in libraries? Am I dreaming or do you think it’s a great possibility?

  48. Sandy C. says:

    1. I have a Kindle, which I bought eight months ago to take advantage of the wonderfully priced Harlequin bundles (one-click buy for eight titles a month was only $9.99!). I only got to enjoy that for a month before it disappeared, though. I’m still upset with Harlequin for doing that.

    2. I’m still buying and reading most of my books the old-fashioned way, even though I keep downloading the free or almost free books from Amazon because I simply can’t resist. I don’t think I’ll ever give up “real” books altogether.

    3. Yes, I’m disgusted with the publishers and their ridiculous pricing strategy. I’m not ever going to pay the same price for an e-book that I can pay for a copy I can hold in my hands.

    4. I might try one or two e-books from my favorite authors, but again, I can’t see walking away from traditional books. It would bother me to not be able to find an in-print edition of that particular book if I really liked it.

    5. Given how I feel about books in print, no, I don’t really wish for more authors to go rogue. I wish for the publishing industry to wake up and not be so restrictive as to what they’re willing to publish, and also to give reasonable discounts on e-books for a change!

    As for Michelle’s comments, I can see that she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, and she’s making the best business decision that makes sense to her. However, I was outraged when I went to a huge book store in England last year and couldn’t find any romances, so just on principle I vowed never to buy any books there. When you don’t carry any author’s books, you risk alienating your customer base. That’s just reality.

  49. Mark says:

    My siblings and I have had several generations of the Sony Reader since I got the first about 4 1/2 years ago. We currently have 505, 650 & 950 Readers. We all read romances & F&SF, so we have shared books for many years, and having all 3 Readers on my account lets us continue to share. Since I keep all books I buy, our physical space to add bookshelves ran out about when the first Reader came out, and now I buy 99+% ebooks, with just an occasional printed book I can’t get in ebook form. We still have the 20,000+ paperbacks, but I read new ebooks more often than the paper books because I read recent releases more often than backlists. Most of my rereading is still paper books.
    About Harlequin backlists, I’ve seen a lot of backlist titles show up in the Sony eBook Store, frequently in author-specific bursts (a bunch of titles by one author showing up at once). In fact, I’ve had better luck searching the Sony Store than the eHarlequin site. Either the eHarlequin search engine doesn’t include backlist titles or I’m missing some quirk in getting it to work.
    About Harlequin bundles, check BooksOnBoard to see how their Harlequin bundles compare to the old ones direct from Harlequin. (I know they exist but haven’t priced them.)

    About errors, this is copied from my recent posts in the Spelling and Grammar thread on the AAR Potpourri board:
    The absolutely worst formatted purchased book I’ve read to date was the ebook of Once Upon Stilettos by Shanna Swendson (Ballantine Books ebook 2006). This is the one I estimated at over 4,000 formatting problems (many per page): it was missing all apostrophes, all quotes, all em & en dashes, and all accented letters. It was so bad it was a real challenge to read and I reported it to the Sony eBook Store I bought it from, and they made a repaired copy available a couple weeks ago (months after I reported the problem). At a quick glance, the new copy looked much more readable.

    I thought I should explain what I mean by formatting errors.
    Most of these formatting errors CAN also show up in printed books, but DO so much more rarely than in ebooks.
    Extra hyphens [hy-phens] in words in the middle of lines.
    Broken paragraphs with an
    extra return in the middle.
    Shifts to/from italics in the middle of words.
    Extra spaces in the middle of words, after hyphens, en dashes and em dashes, or before other punctuation marks. [plea sure] [end-- start] [a question ?]
    Missing blank lines between scenes.
    Word-wrap failures (or margin errors) causing words to vanish off the right side of the Reader screen.
    Characters the Reader can’t map or display, producing a question mark.
    Missing accented characters, producing incomplete words. [fa ade for the version of facade using c with a cedilla]
    Missing ligatures, producing incomplete words. [ower for flower because the fl ligature vanished]
    The missing accented characters and ligatures are especially problematic. In some cases, there is a blank visible so one can tell there is a character that can’t be represented on the Reader due to the publisher’s failure to use the right character set, but sometimes there is no hint of the missing character other than an incomplete word (or an inappropriate word when the lost characters create shorter words as in my example above).
    Formatting errors aren’t common in most ebooks, with most ebooks having from zero to just a few that I notice, but a few ebooks have dozens or more and in a few really bad cases I estimated the count at thousands. (If I see too many errors I don’t actually count them, I just estimate based on the book’s page count.) I blame publishers for carelessness or use of poor ebook creation software (poor conversion from word-processor files).

    I have a strong suspicion that most broken words and extra hyphens come from bad translation of conditional hyphens used by some word processing software.
    I suspect missing quotes, apostrophes, em dashes and en dashes also come from bad translation of word processing software. Years ago Microsoft Word used special coding (and probably still does) for all four of those characters (curly quotes, curly apostrophes, em & en dashes, and ligatures aren’t in the 7-bit ASCII characters set, requiring either ANSI or Unicode), and some ebook creation software probably doesn’t handle those codes/characters right.
    I don’t even record poor word-wrapping in my error counts since some ebooks have it on every line in a book, but if the word-wrap is so messed up that text vanishes off the side of the Reader screen I count it. I don’t know what setting is messed up to cause the problem, but it is a failure to adhere to normal ebook ability to resize and reflow text.
    Ebooks have the ability to handle all accented characters, but when I used a free ebook conversion program a few years ago I found that the default English language setting tended to lose all accented characters. I had to set an obscure language choice to get accents. I suspect similar problems in some commercial ebook software explain messed up accented characters.

    Typos and mindos can usually be traced back to the author, followed by poor editing by the publisher, though I have heard stories of errors introduced by publisher editing after the author produced good text. Authors without editing can never fix mindos, since by definition they are mental errors (the author doesn’t know better).
    I blame publishers for ALL formatting errors.

  50. Dawn in Nevada says:

    I have not yet made the jump to e-reader. I would in a heartbeat if I traveled frequently or had a lengthy commute. However, I enjoy discussions such as these in anticipation of the day when I finally join the 21st century! My question to all of you-what happens when your e-reader dies? Since electronic devices never seem to last past a few years, what happens to all those books you have spent alot of money to download? Just curious…

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