Book VS E-books

DaveK's picture

The publishing world is all abuzz about e-publishing vs paper and when or if electronic formats will replace paper. The electronic proponents like to point out the music business and how that is now largely electronic. And with that, all the problems of pirating. The problem with that comparison is that books and music are used quite differently. A book is used like a movie. It will be read/watched once or maybe a few times and in a setting in which you are not doing much else. Music on the other hand is often played over and over and often in a background context such as driving or reading.

A second difference is that while a book can be read with no other supporting devices except for light, music always needs a player. Now suddenly along come e-readers (I own a Nook). There are similarities between the two. Ease of duplication and distribution come to mind. But the fundamental differences in usage remain.

Movies have a different similarity with books. Movies first play in first run theaters. Then perhaps in cheaper theaters and finally show up on DVDs for rental or purchase. Books had come out as hard covers, then paperbacks then as remainders. I'm not sure when they show up in libraries.

How do e-books fit in this progression? First I'll comment on the differences between e-books and paper ones. E-books are harder to lend, borrow, or give away and require a dedicated reader. But they are more convenient to purchase, and read if you need to change the font size or convert to audio.

This leaves the two knobs the publishers have to work with: price and timing. These do interact. Early access is always worth something. What surprises me is that publishers think e-books should have one price for all time. To me a book should be released as a hard cover and e-book at the same time. The price can be a bit lower for the e-book to reflect the slightly lower production costs. Then as the title ages the e-book price drops until it is comparable to a paperback when that version is released.

There is one more difference that should be mentioned: longevity. It is much easier and cheaper to keep a file on a server than to keep a stock of hard copies in a warehouse. This is a bit harder to account for because when books go out of print the rights often revert to the authors (so I'm told).


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I've got a Kindle (his name

I've got a Kindle (his name is Gizmo), and we're getting along nicely; but I'll never stop reading the dead tree variety of books.

CONGRATS on reaching your Write1Sub1 goals this month! 

I have a Nook and I love it

I have a Nook and I love it very much. In one corner of my bedroom, I have a little folding endtable, the kind that comes in fours and hangs on a rack when not in use. It holds about a dozen of my books in a 18" x 24" space, and due to weight and stacking, it's nearly impossible to move without losing one or more books over the edge. 

My Nook currently holds a dozen more books, and it does so in a space only slightly larger than my hand. 

There are drawbacks, of course; sometimes navigation is tricky, and, well, I've never had a "real" book lose its charge. But I think the reading experience on an erader--provided it is of the quality of a Nook or Kindle, is every bit as enjoyable as that of a paper book. And you never have to worry about bending the spine or wearing an edge down. My cat has ruined several covers in her time, but she's yet to chew on my ereader. 

For me, if it's available on the Nook, that's the version I'll buy. Not because it's so much "better", per se, but because it's so much easier and practical, every bit as enjoyable, and doesn't kill any trees in the process. Books will become to me what vynil became to my parents--nostalgic collectibles of superior beauty and craftsmanship. 

Oh, and as a fellow Write1Sub1 particpant, congrats on reaching your goals for April!

Hi, Dave. Congratulations on

Hi, Dave. Congratulations on winning April Witch, Wirte1/Sub1. As for e-pulishing, well. Hmmm, I can see myself publishing there (I'll go where there's an audience), but reading the stuff? -- nah. It's not for me.