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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The eBook-haters Meme (SF Signal)

SF Signal recently posted a little meme about eBooks, and I've obviously decided to drag it over here for your entertainment.  Obviously, I'm not much of an eBook hater anymore, since I own a Barnes & Noble Nook, but there are still things I don't like about eBooks, thus giving me some right to actually talk about them here.  Feel free to keep it going by posting it to your blog, leaving a comment on the SF Signal thread, or leaving a comment here.

  1. Have you ever tried reading an eBook? If so, on what device?
    Yes, I have.  I've tried reading eBooks on my computer and on a Barnes & Noble Nook.
  2. What's your single main reason for not reading eBooks?
    I like physical books more than digital ones.  That's a fairly simple reason that doesn't need more of an explanation, I suppose.
  3. Are there any other reasons you don't usually read eBooks?
    Plenty.  They usually cost more than I'm willing to pay ($6 is my cut-off price, and that's pushing it for me).  They're often formatted poorly, and DRM makes it hard for me to edit the file so it is correct (I only read full justified text, because ragged margins make me feel like I'm reading a paper I need to grade).  That pretty much sums up my apprehension.
  4. What would it take to get you to read eBooks?
    I'm going to read this question to say "read more eBooks," since I already read some eBooks.  To get me to read more, they would have to be priced better, formatted better, and generally more appealing than regular books.  I would also need software that makes highlighting and making notes easier, which is not something I can do in a Nook.  Right now, I use the Nook for fun reading only.  Lastly, I would need a better search engine for finding books that are released by actual publishers, since I am not willing to spend even $0.99 on a book by a self-publisher (sorry, folks, but I can't do it).
  5. What do you think is a fair price for an eBook?
    I'm going to answer this by saying what I think is fair in general, rather than to me personally.  I don't think any eBook should be over $7.99 when the hardcover is the only copy out, and it should get progressively cheaper as newer formats are released (sort of like the agency model, I suppose).  So, the prices would drop to $5.99 alongside trade paperback, and $3.99 alongside mass market.  Again, I'm not willing to pay over $6, but I'm even less likely to pay $6 for an eBook that has a mass market edition.  Why?  Because I'd rather run to the store and get the real book for a little extra.  Real books smell nice and fell good on your fingers.
There you go.  To be fair, I really like my Nook, and I do like reading books on there.  I'm less against eBooks than I am against the crappy eBook practices by publishers.  I understand them, but it's a big leap to go from "understanding" to "I'm on your side."

So, what about you?

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  1. $3 and $6 is generally far too low a price for an eBook if the publisher wants it to be profitable. Though I agree that the eBooks price should always be in line with (read: lower than) the print edition.

    Would your opinion change if an eBooks was exclusively an ebook? With no print counterpart? Having just finished researching an writing an exhaustive business plan for a digital publishing venture and handling all the sales forecasts and profit-and-loss blah blah blah, I can tell you than $9.99 really is the best price for all involved if the author is getting the proper 35% percent royalty of list price (50% of net profit). Cheaper can be better in some cases, but it IS unprofitable in a simple covering costs sense.

    The publishing world is already ridiculous in their inability to offer proper rates to (most) authors and/or promotional support. Digital could change that, but not if the prices are too small.

  2. No, my opinion would not change if it was only in eBook. I won't pay over $6. Most likely, I will avoid an eBook-only book simply because it removes the possibility that I can use it for my research (in the event that I want to).

  3. You are missing out on a great many books by not considering "self-publishers" - particularly nowadays when many good authors with great stories are going straight to e-books and skipping the middle man.

  4. You mean I'm missing out on having to waste either my time or money sifting through miles and miles of garbage to find the good stuff? No thanks. My money and my time is better spent dealing with material that is guaranteed to be edited (and when they default on that guarantee, I can at least be legitimately pissed about it).

    I get it. There are good self-publishers out there. But the SP community still has yet to find an appropriate way to filter out the garbage so readers don't have to. I'm also tired to death of the really bad arguments about traditional publishing out there, and people who make those arguments (and, thus, make their living partly on bashing an industry they know almost nothing about) are people who won't get money from me. I don't buy Apple products for the same reason. Smear campaigns are not endearing.