How do you read?

By Allison Brennan

 

E-books and e-readers are topics of conversation everywhere, and no place more so than among authors.

 

I could discuss any number of things related to e-books, but the topic could fill a novel—far more than I want to write on a Saturday night!

 

I think that there are two truths that most people can agree with, to differing degrees. One, e-books are here to stay and they’re a growing market. And two, print books will continue to sell.

 

I honestly don’t care how readers read my books. If they enjoy them electronically or in print or listening to them on tape or download. Truly, my job is to entertain by telling a good story.

 

At some point—when, I have no idea—there’ll be a balance between e-books and print books, just like there is a balance between hardcover and paperback releases. This unknown is one of the reasons that publishers are in a tizzy—it’s nearly impossible to plan print runs and create marketing plans when readers are all over the map. When an author like myself—a mass market commercial fiction author—has a book out there was a plan. But those plans are constantly in flux because of the unknowns.

 

We can say that ebook sales are increasing exponentially, but every author—with a particular eye to format and genre—is affected differently. My ebook sales are still in the single digits of total books sold. I know a lot of people who are selling upwards of 35%–most, if not all, of these authors are published in hardcover. Some of my mass market friends are seeing low two-digits—10-15% e-book sales, but most mass market authors aren’t getting the near half sales electronically.

 

So there are a lot of unknowns!

 

One of the problems everyone is having is with statistics. Numbers mean something, but methodology is crucial when looking at the stats. We’re hearing that Amazon is selling more digital books than hardcover books—but the problem with that statement is that they don’t tell us whether they’re selling more digital copies of books that are also available as hardcover, or are they selling more total digital copies than hardcover books.

 

I’m not discounting the quantity, because I know that hardcover authors are selling very well electronically, but we need to compare apples to apples if we can possibly plan for future books as well as know our audience.

 

For example, according to “Self Publishing Resources,” the average POD (which I am assuming includes self-published books, but I can’t be certain based on the wording) sells 75 copies, and Author Solutions reports that they sell on average of 150 copies of each of their self-published novels. According to a New York Times report in early 2009, when Bertram Capitol merged with Xlibris, they published six times more titles than Random House—the worlds largest publisher.

 

Quantity of titles doesn’t equate to success. Well, the vanity press companies are certainly successful, for one article on the Self Publishing Resources website states that 81 percent of the American people believe they have a book in them. And with the ease of getting that book published, there are now over 480,000 titles published today (2009.)

 

But the vast majority of those titles are selling less than 1,000 copies. One report I remember reading (but can’t find though I searched!) is that only 25,000 titles have a print run in excess of 5,000.

 

My point is that the big sellers are driving the digital train just like they drive the high print runs. I think when the New York Times starts their ebook bestseller list, that’s going to prove that it’s still the John Grishams and Lee Childs and Nora Roberts and Stephen Kings of the world that are dominating the sales. There will be new up and comers for certain, just like on the traditional print lists, but as more digital titles are available, readers will still gravitate to their comfort reads and proven authors.

 

I’m certain that there will be a lot of changes to come, some exciting and some scary. We don’t really know what’s going to happen, only that more people will move to reading some or all of their books digitally. And because this is technology based, it happens faster than other changes.

 

Decisions based on fear and not fact will only hurt authors—and, in the long run, readers. We need statistics that make proper comparisons, such as comparing e-book sales to print sales on those titles that are available in both markets. Unknown authors who think that they can break into digital publishing and make it big have a lot of work ahead of them—just because you can keep more money from each book sold doesn’t mean it’s the right decision. Or the wrong decision. Because of the potential for entrepreneurs who have both talent and marketing sense, there will be success stories. It’s inevitable. And I think that’s great.

 

But none of that means death to print publishing. 8% of the reading public owns an ereader—and that is expected to double within the next six months. And those who own ereaders are more likely to read more books. But there are still a lot of people who state they will not be buying an ereader in the next year. According to Harris Interactive (which I hesitate to quote because it’s an opt-in poll of people who are online and thus not a cross-section of all readers) the two demographic groups least likely to own or buy an ereader in the next 6 months are the 65+ group and the 18-33 group. That these are people who are active online and not moving over to ereaders is significant—I only have my unscientific poll of my teenagers who, when I offered them an ereader, said, “Hell, no.” (And I have an iPad, so I’m not opposed to ereaders!)

 

Their reason? They spend so much time on the computer, they don’t want to read books on it or any electronic device. Their textbooks are on the computer. They have assignments on the computer. They text and facebook and chat on the computer. Is there going to be a small technology backlash in the younger generation? Maybe. Maybe not.

 

But that’s the point—everything is changing so rapidly and data is incomplete. That’s why taking in the big picture and making smart, strategic decisions—both for authors and for publishers—is so important.

 

One experiment that my publisher is trying is releasing an exclusive electronic novella between the first two Lucy Kincaid books. Love Me To Death, the first Lucy Kincaid book, will be out on December 28, hopefully everywhere books are sold. Then on January 24, 2011, a novella Love Is Murder will be available everywhere electronic books are sold. Then Kiss Me, Kill Me, the second Lucy Kincaid book, will be out on February 22. I’m very interested in seeing the numbers—whether having an e-exclusive story increases e-sales of KMKM over LMTD, among other things.


Yesterday, my editor sent me two printed copies of Love Me To Death. When I opened the package, the same warm, happy feeling came over me that I had five years ago when I received the first two copies of my debut novel The Prey.

 

So to celebrate the pending publication of my fifteenth book—which happens to fall on the five year anniversary of the release of my debut novel—I’m giving away a set of my first trilogy: The Prey, The Hunt and The Kill. If the randomly chosen winner already has those books, I’ll send them any set of my trilogies that they want. In print—because I have the copies.

 

So tell me . . . have you converted to reading ebooks and if so, are you mostly reading books published exclusively as ebooks; ebooks that are also available in print; or a mixture of both?

 

 

73 thoughts on “How do you read?

  1. BJ Wanlund

    Currently, because the publishing business is in such a state of frenzy over the whole idea of having all their books, even long out of print titles, on an ebook repository such as the Kindle Store or the iBookstore, I am a "hybrid", which means a little bit of both, depending on the price and the convenience (or even availability in many instances because some titles are totally unavailable, even in the Kindle Store). Once all titles, whether they are out of print or not, finally make their way to the digital plane where they are as available on-demand as paper books (and I'd probably keep all of them as offline copies, which is why I like the iBookstore so much for that very reason), I will probably transition fully to ebooks to save not only shelf space, but also to have a nice repository of reading anything that I personally want to read, totally on demand. Bibliophiles like myself need to save some serious shelf space!

    BJ

  2. Grace

    When travelling, e-books are the answer for me. I've lugged too many heavy suitcase, carrying bags in my life to airports, trains, cottages not to want to take advantage on reading on a kindle. At all other times, I return to reading from the printed page.

  3. heyjude

    I hope your ebook exclusive does really well!

    I read a mix also, depending on price and where I'm going to read the book. I just can't take my nook to the beach. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Dru

    I read more printed book than I do e-books and I have two e-readers. I use my e-reader when I'm traveling and when I'm reading short stories. I still prefer to buy, hold and turn the pages of printed books.

    Pricing plays an important role in whether I buy an e-book or a printed book, especially for new-to-me authors.

    Normally, if I already have a series as e-book, the next book in that series will be purchased as an e-book, of course that depends if the next book is in hardcover format because then I'll wait for the paperback version before I buy the e-book version. Pricing matters.

  5. Karen in Ohio

    Allison, this is a timely question for me. I read about 300 books a year, most of which are purchased. Our house is literally bulging with books. A couple of years ago the public library backed in a truck and took my donation of more than 1,000 books, all of which have since been replaced, I'm ashamed to say. (You guys–writers–like it; my husband is horrified.)

    On many levels I've recently begun to think about buying an e-reader. Here are my concerns: A) the limited formats available on each e-reader, B) the death of bookstores when actual books are less prevalent, C) the already endangered forests becoming even more so by book printing, D) more quickly-obsolete electronic junk in the landfill, and E) future generations being less likely to stumble across a reading experience when actual books are no longer found in nooks and crannies. A lot of pros and cons there.

    However, the new Nook Color really appeals to me, and that is most likely what I will get, if indeed I end up getting an e-reader. In addition to a wonderfully responsive touch screen and brilliant color screen that does not require a reading light, I can also access my public library instantly for borrowed titles. The one drawback to this is the limited availability of "copies" of books available for download; for some reason there are only so many allowed to be circulated at once. This seems wrongheaded to me. If the copies are electronic I don't see why MORE copies are available than print copies, instead of fewer. That's kind of bizarre.

    The Nook also allows for Internet access and email reading, which I guess would be handy. I thought I'd access my email through my LG Chocolate Touch phone, but it's way too clunky of a platform for email. Just using that teeny tiny keyboard with one fingernail practically sends me screaming into the abyss. How do people write actual email with those things? Too frustrating for me.

    By the way, I really thought I would use my netbook to read books, but that has not happened. Oh, well.

  6. Lois

    I'm also a hybrid. I was given a Sony reader two years ago, and only bought a couple ebooks that year. In 2010 I bought somewhere in the two digits, and my library started loaning ebooks. For travel I STRONGLY prefer ebooks, and just finished selecting what I will take with me on our Thanksgiving trip. I also like to be able to download short stories onto my reader instead of print them out. Other times choices are based on cost or availability – twice for the mystery book discussion group I'm in, it was easier to get an ebook than in print. So for me it still varies. But I seem to like talking about it, as I comment here vary rarely ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Vicky

    I'm in a dither over e-book readers. I'd like to buy one, but can't decide which. I go through all the research and finally decide on one and then a newer model comes out with a feature I like or an older model drops their price. Back to the drawing board. With all the readers available, I can't seem to find one that delivers all the features in one and I refuse to buy two. I'm also at a disadvantage being in Canada as B&N won't ship the Nook here. So for now and until things settle down, I'll stick to paper.

  8. Allison Davis

    Cara Black lent me her Sony e-reader on a recent trip to Europe. I am the one who usually lugs hardcover, soft cover books stuffed in every pocket of my luggage because I am deathly afraid of being somewhere without a book. And I never check my luggage (another story). So, I decided to try out ebooks for the first time. Confession, I also now have a notebook comptuer instead of a laptop so going smaller, slimmer all the way around (except for my hips). I had six books loaded up on the reader and really enjoyed having the security of all those books in one slim volume.

    So I took the plunge and bought a Kindle…but now I realize that the book format is different on each volume (so have books in two formats now), but have loaded up the Kindle and brought it on my Thanksgiving travels to NY and New Orleans. While I looked longingly at my hardcover books, which I will always love, the slim Kindle fits in my purse along with my notebook, and it's just great for carry on.

  9. JJ Dennis

    I'm like your teens in that everything I do is on a computer & the last thing I want to do is read on one. I have nothing against them (I work in a library & constantly have to help people w/ their ereaders & our ebooks), but in the end, I just want to hold and smell my book. Those sensations are so tactile and tangible that my reading experience isn't as fulfilling w/o them. I won't be switching teams any time soon.

  10. Laura Jane Thompson

    This whole ebook think irritates me. I don't have a Kindle or any other reader because I know I won't use it. I like to hold actual books in my hands and I like to shelve them when I've finished reading them.

    The problem for me is these exclusive ebook offerings. I know that they make good business sense, and I certainly don't begrudge an author taking advantage of an opportunity, but I hate reading books on the computer.

    Dean Koontz released an ebook exclusive as a prequel to his forthcoming hardcover. I purchased the ebook in October but I still haven't read it. Usually I read a Koontz novel the day it comes out, but I spend too much time in front of the computer as it is. I can't print the ebook or even purchase it in paperback form, so I'm stuck hoping I eventually have the energy to sit in front of the computer and endure further eye strain in order to read it.

    Whining aside, congratulations on your fifth anniversary, Alison, and on the publication of your 15th novel. Your books are a delight to read.

  11. Becky LeJeune

    I haven't been converted. I'm still not planning on buying an ereader and am still perfectly happy with my print books. I will admit, though, if I received some sort of ereader as a gift (and hubs has been asking about them lately, so I know he's considering the possibility), I would read on it. But I think I would still buy most of my books as physical books.

  12. billie

    I have said for years I would never not buy hardcovers. After one weekend with an iPad and Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, I was completely converted. The test was when I downloaded the original Winnie the Pooh and there it was in full glorious color. I LOVE turning the pages on the screen.

    That said, I just spent a weekend with a Kindle and given the price difference and the non-backlit screen of the Kindle, that's what I will end up buying myself for Christmas. Will probably get an iPad later on.

    I've been buying e-books for about six months now, but on my Kindle for Mac, on my big desktop. That method is perfect for books I'm using for research – not as satisfying for my fiction fix.

    I just yesterday bought a trade paperback novel – if I had my own Kindle in hand, I'd have certainly purchased it as an e-book.

    The thought of clearing my house of all but my favorite hardcovers and signed books is a huge incentive – and the portability of what I'm reading, easy purchasing, etc. I never thought I'd be in the e-book camp, but here I am. Interestingly, the person whose Kindle I used this weekend is 68. She absolutely adores it.

    I think many of us who consider ourselves hardcore print book lovers don't realize how absolutely easy it is to make the switch once we have the e-reader in our hands. I know a lot of folks who went through instant conversions – more of those than folks who tried it and hated it.

    I'm just glad there are new and exciting options for writers who don't want to go through traditional publishing and don't want to go through iUniverse. I love the possibilities for new voices.

  13. PK the Bookeemonster

    I'm in both camps. I love everything about using the Kindle. I also still purchase paper books in both hardcover and paperback. It depends on the book — sometimes I don't care whether I'm going to keep it "forever and ever" and I just want to read the damn thing right now or it's a favorite author that down the road of whom I'd like their collection in order to perhaps re-read. But this is the kicker: What has changed in the year that I've had the Kindle is my use of my library. Last year around this time my library changed to a new catalog system that is truly user un-friendly and I received the Kindle as a Christmas present. I also got back into a state of employment at that time. These three things have led me to purchasing nearly 100% of what I read in the past year. That's a lot of books since I am not a casual, every-once-in-while-best-seller-only reader. That has to be fantastic for the book industry and probably not a statistic they've counted.

  14. Steve

    Iโ€™m one of those multitude of people who hope to have a novel on Kindle in the near future. I donโ€™t have an e-reader, but have read a few e-books on my computer. To be honest, I prefer to have the hardcopy book in my hands. I can see an advantage to an e-reader when traveling, and Iโ€™ll probably get one eventually. Good luck on the electronic novella.

  15. Allison Brennan

    BJ, I have beautiful built-in bookshelves that two years ago were half-full (when I moved, I donated about half my books to the library or gave away to friends.) Now, my bookshelves are near bursting and I am lamenting that I didn't make them floor to ceiling! (There are cabinets underneath.) However, I've bought three novels for my iPad and haven't read them yet, including the latest Stephen King. I'm staring at my Stephen King bookshelves and am sad that I can't see his latest there (I probably have about 25 of his books–maybe 70% of what he's published.) So I'm thinking of buying a hard copy, too. But I have bought several research books and have read parts of them (using the search function) and I now wish most of my research books were available electronically. Unfortunately, most aren't.

    Grace, you and many other seem to prefer ereading for travel. I've been watching other people and have noticed an increase in ereaders. Few Nooks and others, but lots of Kindles and iPads.

    heyjude, thanks! I hope so too–I'm hoping to find new readers. It's a little different than the books in that it's a straight mystery, and of course shorter. (25K words compared to 110K). And aside from the beach, you also can't take an ereader into the bathtub. Replacing a $7.99 paperback or $25 hardcover is still cheaper than a $139 Kindle or $500+ iPad.

    Dru, interesting about pricing. My mom buys her books at Costco or Walmart for the hardcover bestsellers, and then paperbacks at Walmart or Target because they're 25% off. She's retired and buys a lot of books at the used book store. She rarely buys a book at cover price, since she reads a book a day. She's already extinguished the mystery and romance sections of her library. But she hates the idea of reading on an ereader, and her books are part of her decor (like me!)

    Karen, you bring up lots of excellent points! (BTW, I've given away hundreds of books to the library–it's hard to part with many of them, though!)

    I will address the limited availability of titles at the library. They can only loan out copies that are purchased, just like a physical print book. If they only purchase one copy, they can't replicate it because it's illegal. And it needs to remain illegal otherwise piracy will continue to grow. It's already a huge problem for authors, and is going to get much worse as more people start reading digital books. Libraries can't copy a print book and loan it out, so they can't copy an electronic book, either. I know it's frustrating, but it's just like waiting for a coveted title if it was in print.

    Lois, I think digital books is going to help authors sell their backlist. When a book becomes scarce, they can almost always get it digitally. So if you read the fifth book in the series, but the first is in no bookstore, you can buy it digitally in many cases.

    Vicky, I completely understand your points! For me, I got the iPad because I can use it to write, get email, read (though that's rare) and a bunch of other things. I rarely travel now with my laptop. But I still carry a physical book.

    Allison, a lot of people love ereaders for travel. I'm wondering if the airport bookstores of download capabilities now . . .

  16. Fran

    I see the attraction of an e-reader for travel, oh boy don't I just! But I don't have one and I don't know that I will any time soon, and it's not just because I work at a brick-and-mortar store that makes its livelihood out of selling your lovely work.

    There are so many types of readers and they all offer different things. So which one to get? I'm selfish, I want it all, and with print, I can do that. I don't have to worry about what's available on which platform.

    Then too, when I buy a book, it's mine. No one on the other side can come in and strip it out of my library. I understand that Kindle is going to allow folks to "loan" their e-books to other folks, but if I want to loan out a book, I don't have to worry if the person I'm loaning it to has the proper equipment. I just hand 'em the book. Simple.

    There's something psychologically reassuring to me about having physical books around. A while back, Lillian and I house-sat for some friends, and I was antsy and anxious the entire time. It wasn't until I was back home that I realized they had only one bookshelf in the room that held the ironing and boxes of stuff, and that it had maybe — maybe — two shelves worth of books.

    Books, physical books, soothe me. They give me insights as to the people I'm visiting. I love perusing other folks' bookshelves to see what we have in common and where we diverge. It's an introduction without words.

    But I can, in fact, see the convenience of an e-reader.

  17. judy wirzberger

    Friends gave me a Kindle before going into the hospital for knee surgery. I truly enjoyed it. However, I am slow to purchase e books when I can get a book for just a few bucks more. I do believe, however, e-books are the way to go for traveling and perhaps for picking up reading material that is a few years old. Like you, I believe both are here to stay.

  18. Dudley Forster

    I bought my Kindle in January. I was initially motivated for two reasons โ€“ coffee and reduced bookshelf space. Coffee? Yes, coffee. I like to drink coffee while I read. Holding a paperback with one hand is awkward to say the least and one handing a book the size of Kingโ€™s Under the Dome for more than a few minutes could rip a tendon. The Kindle is made for one hand reading. It also lays flat without using anything to keep the pages open. The other reason is self explanatory. I had 39โ€™ of floor to ceiling book shelves and had to reduce the number of bookcases so a lot of my books are now in storage and I have NO shelf space.

    I too, was apprehensive about giving up the feel of paper books, but it took me less than a day to become a total convert. I read faster on the Kindle and after a couple of hours, it just feels so natural. I have to have โ€œsecurityโ€ books when I go out of town. Before the Kindle, I would take two or three books plus the one I was reading out of fear that after I finished the current book I would have no choice in what to read next.

    There are few drawbacks to the Kindle. I read more books (not really a drawback except to the wallet). Impulse buying runs rampant. Read about a new book recommendation, cool, have it on your Kindle in two minutes. I currently have 84 books in my TBR folder on my Kindle. Though a number of those are classics and cost a couple of bucks or were free. Almost all the my books by Rati authors are on my Kindle. Another problem is you canโ€™t loan books to a friend and say โ€œRead this!โ€ The Nook has a checkout/loan feature but you have to have a Nook to use it, so even if a friend uses an ereader if itโ€™s not a Nook too bad. Finally, thereโ€™s the problem of book signing. I am not excited about having my Kindle signed. I have read that there a number of solutions in the works. Most involve a signed title page digitized for the Kindle. Not sure I like that either.

    As for reading print books, only if they are not available for the Kindle and nonfiction where the books has illustrations, like maps. The other reason is signed books. If I went to a book signing, Iโ€™d buy a copy to get signed and a copy for my Kindle. I also think that ebooks have the potential to be a good marketing tool. I have found a number of new authors whose ebooks were on sale for a few bucks. Most of those prices only last a few weeks. I have also noticed that publishers are offering free or dirt cheap backlist book when an author releases a new book. There are also the free samples. I have downloaded a couple of those and ended up buying the book.

    As for self publishing ebooks, that is still a big question. Currently, there arenโ€™t many J.A. Konraths out there.

  19. Karen in Ohio

    Allison, you bring up another point that concerns me greatly: If every book you own is on the e-reading device, and you lose it, it's stolen, or is broken, losing every book could be a catastrophe akin to having the house burn down with all your books inside. I guess you could replace them via insurance, but the potential loss would totally freak me out!

    What's needed, I think, is a way to backup the content on the device. Does anyone know if that ability exists? It would greatly ease my mind.

  20. Dudley Forster

    Karen – Amazon keeps a library for you of all your books so you can download them again. Also, you can back up the Kindle to you computer via USB and just copy the files. If you are using proper backup practices on you computer all is well.

  21. Louise Ure

    I haven't taken the e-reader plunge yet (except that I have a couple of books on my iPhone for those unexpected long waits in the doctor's office). Maybe if I was traveling more.

  22. kim

    I love my Kindle. I've had it a little over a year and have downloaded over 140 books.

    Most of the books I'm buying are also available as paperbacks or mass market paperbacks. I'm still buying a few print books here and there, mostly those not available of my Kindle, but also a few that I like to share with my mother once I've read them. I don't foresee that changing. I've always purchased a lot of books, but I do believe my purchases have gone up 10-20% due to the Kindle.

    I love to read in bed and find the Kindle easier to handle in this instance. I don't have to worry about balancing the book or pages flopping over. I can lay on my side and prop the Kindle up on a blanket, roll over and readjust, pay due attention to my puppy and never worry about losing my page. I also love the fact that, since it syncs with the Kindle app on my Mac, I can sneak a chapter in at work when its slow and no one is the wiser. =) However, that is rare and mostly I avoid reading on my computer or iPad. The screen kills my eyes after a bit, which is why I opted for the Kindle, the lack of a back light is what sold me.

  23. Scott R

    I have partly converted to e-book. I like the e-format for traveling, since i can take a bunch of books with me and they don't weigh down my baggage. I also still read physical books. there is nothing like the feel of a book in the hand. Plus, when shopping for print books, you can scan various pages and see if you like the book, where in e-books you can't always read parts of the novel to see if you like it.

  24. Karen in Ohio

    Dudley, I have rejected the idea of a Kindle, mostly because it has a proprietary format. But also because of the way Amazon has treated authors, publishers, and customers.

  25. Judi L

    I have always been strictly a paper copy book reader. Until this year when I bought an Itouch and discovered I could read books on Amazon, Stanza and Kobo apps and it was so easy and convenient. I will admit that I wasn't entirely sold on digital e-reading and I don't believe I would ever buy a dedicated e-reader, but the ease (too easy with one touch click buying) with which you can order books and always have a book at hand ready to read can't be beat.

  26. Pam Asberry

    So far, it's been print books all the way for me. But I just downloaded Kindle for my Mac. And I am hoping to find a Kindle under the tree on Christmas morning. Although the only way that will happen is if I put it under there myself! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  27. jamie schaedel

    i prefer the good old paperback books. but i'm going to give an electronic reader a try. although it may be easier to keep all my books in one place, i like coming home at the end of the day and picking a book from my book case and reading. i feel like since society is so technology driven that its nice to keep things basic and grab a good paperback book.

  28. Beverly Vick

    I have not made the swtich to ebooks yet, but I am thinking about it. There are times I can not go to the store to buy a book and with the ebooks just hookup to a computer and read away….

  29. Lex Valentine

    I'm not allowed to buy anymore paperbacks. Every closet in my 960 sq ft condo has at least one box of books in it. My floor to ceiling bookcase is overflowing. My nightstand is full and the top of my dresser has huge stacks of teetering books. If it's free, I can have it otherwise my hubs get ticked off. If I come home with a bag of books (cause seriously, who buys just ONE book?) I will be in deep doo doo. If we moved, half the boxes would be books which will irk him to no end because I knows I can replace many of them with electronic versions. So I'll probably start doing that and take most of the paperbacks to the Goodwill, cept my signed copies, my own books, some treasured faves, and those I can't get in e-format.

    I read almost solely on my desktop, Nook, netbook, or Android phone anyway. I rarely pick up a paperback. But I do treasure signed copies of books.

  30. michael

    I prefer e-books but view it as just another format.

    You mentioned your sales are in single digits. Have your print sales been affected by those sales? Do you have more readers because of e-books or the same number of readers but just using more formats?

  31. Dudley Forster

    Karen – The Nook is also a proprietary device, granted you can read epub books, but there a number of free converters to convert epub into Kindle format. Also, the Kindle supports the mobi format. Mobi has a done a lot to make classics available in an excellent ebook format. My daughter has a Nook and is a big Oz fan. She would have to spend a lot more money to get the complete collection of Oz books for the Nook than the Mobi collection for the Kindle.

    As for the belief Amazon treats everyone badly, I have not read of many complaints from customers, I have been using them from practically day one and have never had any problems whatsoever. The only customer gripes I have seen are aimed at the change in eBook pricing of new releases. That was not Amazonโ€™s fault. The blame for of the ebook pricing issues gets laid squarely at the feet of Apple and five of the Big Six. You should read the WSJ article here – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704271804575405181858061108.html . The agency model flies in the face of the retailer being able to set any price they want for a product. The manufacture is not forced to sell the product at a price that allows the retailer to make a profit. Thatโ€™s what a loss leader means. Have you ever wondered why products say โ€œSuggested Retail Priceโ€. Imagine if grocery stores had to sell their goods on an agency model โ€“ talk about price fixing.

  32. Heather Keen

    I'm still old school. I red about 3 or 4 books a week. I've had to take a whole room in my house and use it for a library, it drives my hubby crazy because it's like an addiction. I'm hoping my children will enjoy my collections when they get older so I have kept every book I've ever bought. I probably should catch up with the times but it seems more intimate abouit curling up on the sofa with a book.

  33. Melissa Cutler

    I mostly read ebooks these days, which is perfect for a busy mom who loves reading romance and suspense. For one thing, when I'm watchinig my kids at the park or in the front yard, the often-salacious book covers aren't on display. Secondly, I don't have to try and sneak in time to visit bookstores during business hours. My time with my family is precious and it's such a relief not to use it up to browse for new book titles to read.

  34. Robbi Hudgens

    I haven't gotten into the e-books yet. My daughter keeps trying to get me to jump in. I have read all of your books and just really enjoy them. They always keep you guessing and have so many twists and turns you can't help but be sucked in from the beginning. I read 3-4 books a week usually but so far I'm still reading paperbacks. I'll be surprised if I don't get a Nook or Kindle for Christmas!! My daughter is determined!!

  35. Lulu

    I am a paper dinosaur. I love the smell, the touch, the feel of a book in my hands. I love sitting in my special reading chair and snuggling in with a good read. I love breaking out my book light and reading "under the covers" late at night.

    Now I recently received an e-reader as a gift. I have to admit that it is a convenient tool when waiting for an appointment. Just whip out a small device and start reading – no lost bookmarks. But I hate the idea of spending $ for books that get stored on a device. I would rather spend the $ on a book and then either put it on my bookshelf or donate it.

    I'm definitely in the pulp camp, with only one big toe in the e-reader camp.

  36. Edie Ramer

    Lately I've been reading more on my ereader but I still have a pile of print books. When I'm reading while I'm eating (a bad habit, but I've been doing it since I was a kid), I'll grab the ereader because it's easier to turn the pages. A friend has a family property with a pond. She was lounging by the pond this summer, reading, and so were her adult daughter and niece. My friend was reading a print book, her daughter and niece were reading on ereaders.

  37. Denise in AZ

    I read print exclusively. I do not have an e-reader. I love the feeling of having a book in my hands and turning the pages.

  38. Susan W.

    I just got my kindle last week, so I am still a newbie to the e-reading world, but so far LOVE IT!!! I can bounce from book to book (I usually have 2-3 books going at a time), it is lightweight and easily portable, i can take notes and don't lose my place because it turns off and stays on the same page I left it on. If this week is any indicator, I will probably go more e-reader, but not entirely because I do miss the sound of shuffling pages. Maybe they can add a white-noise background of pages shuffling as an app. lol…..

  39. Shanae

    I read in both formats. Earlier this year I finally bought a Sony Pocket eReader and I do enjoy it, there is some power to having access to over 300 books at the push of a button. But I will never give up my paperback books. I love the smell of books and the feel of turning the pages . So while eReaders are the new thing, I don't think holding a book in your hands will ever get old.

  40. Dudley Forster

    Melissa – The book cover thing is also a good reason for an ebook reader. I was converted to reading romantic suspense being challenged to try a few. Every so often I like knowing there will be a HEA. However, as I have said in posts on the MSW blog, publishers are shooting themselves in the foot by using the covers they do. 22% of romance readers are men. There are some great books out there that most men would not pickup because of the cover and if they did buy one they would either never read it in public or put some kind of cover on it. My Kindle solves that problem for me. So when I start reading CARNAL SIN I won't have to worry about the cover <g>

  41. Zoรซ Sharp

    Hi Allison

    Interesting subject. I spend a long time looking at a computer screen, so I find it very difficult to sit and read a book that isn't print on paper, but I can see the advantages of an e-reader for travelling.

    I just worry about future compatibility. The manufacturers do like their 'built-in obsolescence' a little too much for my liking. A book is a book, now or in twenty years' time…

  42. Melanie Kuziemko

    I would only ever read books in print, it is not something I would ever negotiate on, regardless of technology, I adore each and every book I own and am proud to display them all on my bookshelf because my book collection, while not huge or anything is a special part of me ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. Jeanne in MN

    I read both. The Kindle is not the best venue for illustrated books, so I continue to buy those. Like many of the respondents, I have too many books in my house, so I justify buying books in e-format as not adding to the clutter and being easier to travel with. I still enjoy visiting bookstores and buying several books per month. The Kindle has the advantage of suggesting other books the reader might be interested in. This used to be the province of independent book stores, but so many stores now have clerks who don't read themselves and have no idea how to refer readers to other authors they might also enjoy.

    The price of e-books does bother me. Many of them are priced just a dollar or two less than a hardcover copy of the same book. But I find by waiting for the paperback to be released, the e-book price drops to be equal to or less than the paperback.

  44. Reine

    It's not that I don't like printed books or anything. They seem more permanent. Just an illusion, though. They break down, turn brown, get lost, tossed, all that. Ask my teaching fellow 'Nathan Goldberg.' He kindly met with me for a pre-Reading Period coffee break at Au Bon Pain one day. I didn't have the strength to climb upstairs to his office. He told a really bad – and hugely funny – crip joke. Coffee went flying from my mouth to his open copy of a $67 paperback textbook. 'Nathan' didn't speak to me for over a year, and I didn't take any more courses he was effing TF'ing.

    For a few years now I've been unable to hold a book open, so I started using a special book stand that holds them open for me– mostly. Page curvature sucks, though. Can't get it to turn pages very easily, either.

    Listening to books is the best option for me, so that's what I do, most often. The biggest problem with this is the expense. Libraries, including the LOC, don't have all books available on Talking Books. Some volunteer readers, while all are angels, are really bad readers that make brilliant books intolerable to listen to.

    Reading ebooks on the computer is great. Very visible. Beautiful. Easy to use. Doesn't give me eyestrain. Adjust brightness, tone, and/or size if you have eyestrain problems. I got eyestrain just trying the Nook and a friend's Kindle. Too dark and lacking sharpness. But now my MacBook Pro system is too outdated and really old (in computer years) to be updated to a system that will support Kindle and Nook Apps for Mac. Most of the ebooks I've purchased are stored online, however, or on an external device.

    Because I would rather read than own books, I am – very, very reluctantly – selling my bound books to buy an iPad. In the meantime, however, I have ordered Cornelia's INVISIBLE BOY, which is not available as a recording for some totally fucked reason, and I will risk the death of many motor neurons to read it 5-10 minutes at a time. DO YOU HEAR ME, CORNELIA'S PUBLISHER… AGENT… WHOEVER IS RESPONSIBLE, DAMN IT???

  45. allison brennan

    Guess I'm old fashioned, but there's nothing like holding a real book in your hands and enjoying the read! I also like to collect them. It just makes me feel good looking at my books!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. Karen in Ohio

    Reine, look at the new color Nook. It's brilliant, you can adjust the screen brightness and type size, and you don't need to squint at the durn thing in the dark. Plus, the colors are amazing.

    Or the iPad, which works just about the same way, and has a lot of cool accessories. ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. Cornelia Read

    I have no interest in e-readers yet, don't know why. If I were to get one, it would be an iPad, since you can do so much else with it. This just feels like the early days–eight-track tapes and Betamax and what have you.

    And Allison… FIFTEEN BOOKS IN FIVE YEARS!!! Wow. I have to go faint now.

  48. Reine

    Cornelia, yes- they're pretty expensive, too. I sweat a lot over making the investment for the same reasons you and others mention.

    Allison, 15 books in 5 years – wow! Amazing! Enjoyed your post today – very much. Thanks.

  49. Lynnette

    I have yet to jump on the electronic (for book reading) bandwagon. There's a couple of reasons. The first being that I have two children, 3 and 5, and while I get upset if something happens to destroy a paperback book (which, luckily, doesn't happen often at all), I would go completely ballistic if something were to happen to a reader. Second, I like curling up with my book on the couch or in bed and the readers don't seem to be that versatile. Can you imagine what would happen if I fell asleep reading and then rolled over on it? Yikes!

    I imagine at some point I will get one, but I'm just not ready yet.

  50. Jen C

    I am definitely a mix of both. I have a LOVE of books, bookstores and libraries that goes back to being a child. I have a large collection of my favorites, and am having a hard time thinking that in the future books would be stored on an e-reader or computer instead of as a real book. That being said, I recently downloaded the Kindle app for my phone and LOVE it too. I have purchased one book, and downloaded some of the free classics so far. I enjoyed the book I purchased and would purchase in the future as well, but I am still torn as well.

  51. Diana

    I read only ebooks due to ease and comfort of using my KINDLE. I spend alot of time looking for my favorite authors to make sure their books are available. I've also found some new, amazing authors as AMAZON does offer various books free. I quit reading James Patterson books as the publisher refuses to decrease the price of his ebooks when they are released in paperback. I wouldn't spend $15 on a paperback. Anyways…Since the invention of ereaders I find myself reading more and more….I love it!

  52. Dudley Forster

    Speaking of Kindles – Just found out that OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon is currently free. It is on my TBR list, so it was a nice surprise.

  53. Patricia Brow

    My grandmother was a voracious reader and she taught me how much a book can enrich your life. I am never without a book, whether it's in the drive-up line at the bank, waiting for my granddaughter at gymnastics or at the end of the evening when I bring a book to bed to relax and unwind. My absolute favorite thing to do is, after the grandkids are in bed and things are done for the evening, to run a hot bath and climb in among the bubbles and relax with a good book for an hour or two — now that would be hard to do with a Kindle or any other kind of ebook. There is just something so tactile about having a book in my hands, I can lose myself amongst the pages. I think it will be a long time before I buy a Kindle or anything like it.

  54. chey

    I haven't got an ereader so all the ebooks I read are on my computer. I read way more paperbacks than ebooks as I don't have to sit in front of the computer to read them. To me some of the ebook prices seem artificially high.

  55. Allison Brennan

    Michael–It's really hard for me to compare books, my sales are up and down a bit, but my gut feeling is that people who are reading me on ebook are my readers changing formats. People find me first in a bookstore, then switch over the ebooks at some point and now buy me electronically.

    One very interesting statistic is that while my first six books have fewer copies sold than books 7-12, my electronic sales are virtually identical. This means to me that people who discover a newer book, will then go buy my backlist electronically. This could be because it's harder to find older titles or they have converted to ereader or whatever, but THE PREY (my first book) has as many electronic sales as CUTTING EDGE (my most recent romantic suspense) even though CUTTING EDGE sold over all more copies than THE PREY.

  56. Allison Brennan

    Thanks Reine! I'm so glad you enjoy them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Chey, you should read the article I posted later today about the cost of ebooks. I don't think they're artificially high–I think that Amazon made them artificially low, using bestsellers as a loss leader in order to sell their Kindle. But that is a blog for another day!

  57. Allison Brennan

    Dudley, I don't blame the publishers or Apple for the pricing of ebooks–Amazon artificially lowered the price of bestsellers using them as a loss leader in order to sell their Kindle. They couldn't sustain that forever because THEY were losing money on every sale. Publishers generally wholesale the books at 50% retail price (sometimes less for bigger orders.) So when Amazon made that decision, they knew exactly what they were doing. Then they turned around and said $9.99 was what people were willing to pay for a book, even though they created that price point to begin with. That MAY be true, but honestly, if they had priced them at $12.99 (and made a very small profit) I think then they'd say that was the price people would be willing to pay. I don't have the answers, but there are a lot of costs that go into ebooks that people don't consider. Read that article I posted later on, it was very good and had some terrific information.

  58. P.I. Barrington

    I agree there will be a balance between print and ebooks at some point although people have not been receptive when I say that. I'm sure that someday (soon or not) the generations who will have grown up wite ebooks will no longer require print books much as the vinyl records gave way to CDs which have now given way to digital downloads and flashdrives. I grew up with print books but now a lot of my books have been published by epublishing houses with only one of mine actually in print. Ebooks have the advantage price wise over print because they do not have the overhead of actually producing the printed product whereas print can provide physical product that can be immediately accessed for reference.
    P.I.

  59. Debbie

    Hmm, 15 babies in 5 years, congrats!
    FYI, J.A. Konrath once mentioned on his blog some kind of waterproof protector for the Kindle.
    Just a thought about e-book pricing. Eventually e-books may come to subsidize the print industry and should they ever outsell paper books, the authors will still need to be paid. There will still be designers for covers, editors, people responsible for the conversion, IT staff, and the maintenance of the storage and distrubution, along with the marketing and the business personelle.
    I tried the e-reader ap for Kindle and discovered that the text to speech is disabled. Guess what people? So am I! I'm blind, so that was truely unhelpful! <grin>
    Currently, I read Daisy books. They are a format that protects the copyright and allows users with a Daisy player or software to listen to books that have been recorded to a CD. Best part, I can speed up the CD to listen at a faster speed. Yes it becomes distorted, but reading out loud is slower, even for a voice actor. It's funny but I now think of books in terms of hours not pages.

  60. Mandi in TN

    I love printed books and if I had the extra space I would collect them. So when I get some extra time to read at home (1 book in 2 months) I'll read a printed book.

    E-books are not my favorite but they are easy while on the go. I read one every few months while dealing with doctor appointments, soccer practice, lunch break, and so on.

    Printed books are my favorite but audio books are what I listen to everyday while I'm at work. So my average is about 2 1/2 books a week but I get these from my local library because I don't have enough money for all of the audio books I want to listen to. The library allows me to tryout different authors.

    I hope this helps. Happy reading & Happy Thanksgiving!

  61. Reine

    Debbie, I often speed up my Talking Book player, too. Some readers are super slow– hate that. The reader of Harley's books was very fast though, so I was glad to be able to slow it down. I just got one of the new digital cassette players and I don't hear any distortion. It looks like the pics I've seen of the Daisy Player. Are they the same?

    Karen, thank you for all the references. I'll sort through tomorrow.

    Allison, those online shorts have introduced me to a number of authors, and when they sound good I always buy them if they're available in formats I can read. I don't always link to buy, through the author's page/website, though. How does the publisher determine the effectiveness of the short on number of purchases– just general increase? I love when there are author readings from their books. Interviews, too, have influenced my decision to purchase and have introduced me to genres I might not have tried.

  62. Reine

    Correction: I meant to say that the reader of one of Harley's books was so fast I had to slow it down. Now I'm thinking there might have been something wrong with the digital cassette.

  63. Debbie

    Reine, I'm not sure if the two technologies are the same. Mine uses CD's that are encoded in the Daisey format. They spin at a slower speed, allowing you to speed up (chickmonk style) the speech. My machine is rather old now, probably 10 years and it was paid for by a banks donation to the CNIB. At the time, the machine was around $500 so I'm glad big corporations support charities.
    One of the other advantages is all but the brutally long novels (Les Mis) fit onto one disc. The biggest disadvantage is that I cannot speed up regular CD's, so when I buy a book and it's read at a regular speaking pace, I must take my time. I read of the volumes some people here are able to read and it's a little discouraging. There was a time…but it's passed.

  64. Allison Brennan

    reine, I don't know how to quantify whether the shorts help future sales or not, I'd think it would have to do with a percentage increase after the release of the ebook across other books in the author's backlist. That's how I would do it, but I don't have access to daily numbers.

  65. Reine

    Alison, thank you. It's really interesting how books today are marketed/promoted – I don't have a good vocabulary for that yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Debbie, the new LOC Talking Book digital cassette players are totally different from anything I've ever seen, but they look a lot like one of the players on the Daisy site- can't write today… blah yuk eesh… later.

  66. Robert Carraher

    Personally, e-books just mean I have three options now. Hard Back, Paper Back and eBook. Until recently, I bought probably 10 paper backs a month. If it was an author I like a lot, I'd buy the hard cover right off. If I bought the paper back and thought I might want to reread the work in the future, I'd look for it in Hard Back and buy it again. Now, with the eBook, and especially since I got my 2nd generation Kindle, I don't buy nearly as many paper backs. Especially if it is available in eBook. The only real draw back to eBooks is the ability to share them, and I do know that with some formats, you can share them with other friends. Years ago, I started collecting my favorite authors in Hard Back, preferably signed firsts, and I learned quickly not to lend these, so I would often buy the paper back just to pass on. Not being able to always get the sharable eBook, I'll still buy a paper back to share, but usually only for that reason anymore.

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