Freading? The Continuing Saga of EBooks and Library Lending

I have to admit that my passion, ire and wrath about publishers and eBook pricing has been more about how it affects me as a consumer. But now that things seem to be turning around I have lost some of my tunnel vision and realize that our libraries have been through the wringer as much as we have(if not more, quite frankly), and they still don’t have a viable resolution yet.

Oh, I have talked about it before in this blog but it is not something that I followed religiously. One reason is that as a Kindle owner, library lending wasn’t an available feature for a long while since Amazon didn’t have any type of agreement with libraries. And finally when they did add this feature, I found a very limited collection of books available. Almost all major publishers such as Macmillan Publishing, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group, Brilliance Audio, and Hachette Book Group blocked libraries’ access to eBooks. HarperCollins limited the access to 26 times before the book expired. Random House reaffirmed its commitment to the library eBook market but tripled their prices. Continue reading

Cheap EBooks: Bane, Boon, or Bust for Readers?

If you follow eBook news, you know it’s often all about pricing. From complaints about high prices and allegations of collusion on prices to concerns about cheap eBooks, customers are always keeping their eye on the price. It’s annoying to find that the new eBook you want is $14.99, while the hardback often costs less (including shipping).

To avoid paying too much for eBooks, I check out bargains on the MobileRead Deals, Freebies, and Resources forum every day. The eBook Bargains thread is also hugely popular on AAR’s own Potpourri board. It’s great to find free and bargain eBooks from authors I love, or from authors I’ve been wanting to read. Not long ago, I got nostalgic and gladly bought some Newberry Award winners for $1.99 each because the books reminded me of those great trips to the school library. Of course, I also wound up buying some higher priced titles because I just had to get a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond again. Continue reading

eReading Survey

The must-have device for readers these days seems to be an e-reader whether Kindle, Nook, Sony, BeBook, or other dedicated reader. For those who want to do more than simply read on a device, there are always computer screens, tablet computers, netbooks, and more.

To test how up to date you are on eReading, I’ve come up with a little multiple choice quiz. (I’m a former teacher. Testing’s in my blood.) The answers come from the recent PEW Report on E-Readers published in April 2012. (The questions use PEW wording so that the results stay true.)

What percentage of Americans have read an eBook?

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eBook Lending – A Reader’s View

kindlebook Last week, I mentioned that certain publishers won’t let libraries lend their eBooks. To bring it home more, if you are looking for romance eBooks by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lora Leigh, Keiran Kramer published by Macmillan Publishing at your local library or Simon & Schuster’s authors such as Jayne Ann Krentz or Sabrina Jeffries, don’t waste your time looking because their eBooks are not available for lending. If that is not enough, Penguin, which only offered backlist eBook titles for library lending, announced that it is terminating its contract with OverDrive, the library digital vendor, and starting February 10 will cease to offer any of its eBooks to libraries.
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And the Saga Continues

nookkindle I must have been living under a rock. Until the advent of agency pricing, I didn’t realize the contentiousness and longevity of the thirty years’ book wars. Oh, I do remember talking with one of my favorite book sellers – a retired teacher that opened a book store in Memphis. She shared that she was having a difficult time competing with Waldenbooks. And I remember her talking in dismay about the proposed purchase of Ingram Book Group Inc. by Barnes and Noble. And sure I watched the 1998 comedy, “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks’s Fox & Sons Books putting out of business Meg Ryan’s Shop Around the Corner. However I moved away to a smaller town, and became cocooned against the bookstore closings. Then in the spring of 2010, agency pricing got my attention in a big way. Since then I’ve tried to keep up with the current changes.
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Book Digital Copies

It is now almost one year since I bought my Nook Color.  Some things have changed – I definitely access more books than I used to, and some of it (maybe 30-40%) is digital.  But I confess I’m still primarily a paper reader.  For me, it’s a matter of comfort, and I just can’t use the Nook Color as my primary reading source.

But my friend came over the other day and looked at my shelves and shelves of books.  And she said, “Wow. You have a lot of books.”  She’s not wrong – guesstimating, I’d say I have about 350-500 romance novels, depending on whether I have random stacks hidden away somewhere (which is probably a yes), and most of which I’ve accumulated in the last two years.  And I still gain about 4-5 romances a month.

Well, what if my house burns down?  Am I going to have to lose all those books?  It seems stupid not to take advantage of the digital age and just get eBooks.  I’m sure most of us agree that uniformity amongst the publishers has far to go, but the convenience, pricing, and durability of an eBook make total sense at this point.  And yet why shouldn’t I buy a paper copy if I want, especially since they’re still available, and it’s what works for me?

Then it hit me: Digital copies.  They don’t do it for CDs, because it’s legal to buy a CD then make a digital copy yourself.  But they do it for DVDs, because it’s illegal to rip a DVD, even if you own it.  So you pay a little more, get extra features or Blu-Ray, and get licensed to download a digital copy of your DVD.  And you’ll have it for all eternity.  (Frankly, the legality of ripping CDs versus DVDs doesn’t make much sense to me, but whatever.  They’re both on their way out.)

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Big Changes in the EBook Market

kindle It is no secret that I am a big eReader fan. I’ve talked about it here and here. And from the very beginning I have been a loyal customer of Amazon. With the introduction of the Kindle, I knew I wanted one but waited until 2009. The Kindle Two had just been introduced, giving me the security of a second generation device, plus the slight decrease in price from $399.00 to $359.00 helped.
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How EBooks Save Me from My Own Decluttering

bookbox I know that for the readers that just love holding the actual paper book in their hands, it is going to take a lot to convince them to change to eBooks. But this week, a recurring dilemma of mine brought home one reason I love them.

An AAR reader mentioned wanting to read an out of print book, but the least expensive copy available is selling for $40.00. As I read the message board post, I realized that I had read the book. Continue reading

Free and Bargain eBooks – Blessing or Curse?

kindle I have caught a new addiction: I hunt the net for free and bargain eBooks. Thanks to the delightful folks at Mobileread and here at AAR Potpourri Forum, and thanks to special discounts offered by ebookstores like Fictionwise or Kobo, and by publisher sites like Harlequin, Avon or Carina, I pick up loads of books for comparatively little money. Let’s take the last two months: In April, I acquired 66 new eBooks, and altogether I paid $ 70. In May I acquired 171 new eBooks, and I paid $ 210. On average, that’s $ 1.18 per book, and considering I still paid full price for a number of them, you can see how many came completely free. Before I started to gather my numbers, I was going to write that I now bought more books than usual, but paid less for them than I had done with paper books. Faced with the exact numbers now, I must concede that while this is certainly true for April, in May I spent more on books than usual, ending up acquiring far higher numbers than in any other month before.

I made extensive use of Kobo’s delightful € 1 off discount for a lot of books, especially books from Smashwords and Harlequin that were cheap to start with, and with the discount came free, or virtually free. Similarly, in May there were very good discounts and bargain prices offered from Fictionwise and Carina Press. I want to point out that I acquired all of my new books legally, respecting geographical restrictions and never pretending I was from anywhere but Europe. And I want to add that were I a citizen of the United States, I would have had even more books available, and were I prepared to read books on my PC with a Kindle App, even more.
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The Best of Both Worlds

booksebooks Development is a natural part of any civilization, but I think most people accept that the past few decades have blown the other millenia out of the water.  I swear, I blink and my cell phone grows another set of eyes.

However, I’m also hearing observations about trends in reverse – call it part of the back-to-basics movement.  I think it’s already in full force with our overt concern for the environment.  Line-drying, not drying machines; cooking at home vs. eating at Applebee’s; stay-cations vs. vacations.  And it crosses over into family values and education – I’m hearing a lot of calls for tough love, rather than cosseting.  (And in the meantime, our grandparents slap their foreheads and think, “Duh.”)  The recession undoubtedly played a big part; history shows that generally, in tough times, people get nostalgic and want to do what their gramps did, politically, socially, and economically.

And culturally, what did gramps do?  Well, for one thing, he listened to the radio, and if he could afford it, he listened to LPs.  A decade ago, CDs were in, cassettes were out, and LPs were absolutely dead.  Now the music aficionados are pumping their fists in the air, because LPs are Cool with a capital C.  They’re no longer relegated to secondhand and niche music stores – HMV, the biggest Canadian music chain store, carries a significant section of LPs, and artists like Radiohead and Coldplay release new albums on those crazy 33 ½” vinyls.

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