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Four Reasons Why Ebooks Are My Preferred Reading Format

I mentioned recently how much I would love for publishers to move to e-arcs as it would be so much cheaper, allow for more copies to be distributed, and create a smaller ecological footprint. Another reviewer asked me the appeal of ebooks as she wasn’t quite there yet.

I think that becoming e- acclimated takes time and an open mind. If you aren’t prepared to allow yourself to take a chance with e-reading, I think that you’ll not ever like it. And I think that each reader has to be ready for the e-reading experience because it isn’t just for technogeeks like myself.

Each person’s entry into the e-market will be different. There will be some readers who will never go, tied too strongly to the paper and glue. Other readers will make the transition gradually due to various reasons, but I’ve seen, time and again, that those who do make the transition using a decent e-reading device often become e-vangelists.

Readers who read on the desktops/laptops alone will never be ebook aficionados. The constant flicker of a monitor screen tires ones’ eyes and it might seem to much like work with so many of us tied to our computers during the work day. Only those readers who can go untethered from the laptop/desktop will truly feel the joy of the ereading experience.

So what are those joys? I’ve talked about them before, but they bear repeating.


Possibly the number one reason that I love ebooks is the convenience of them. I think that is partly why the Kindle has been a success. It provides instantaneous access to your library and to a bookstore, no matter where you are located (provided you are within the coverage area). With an eBook reader and a digitized library, you are never more than a few clicks away from any book you care to read. Recently I went on a Susan Mallery glom. This was made possible by the fact that nearly every single title book by Susan Mallery is in eform from either Pocket (The Marcelli sisters) or Harlequin (Buchanan Brothers and the Bakery sisters).

I finished Irresistible last weekend sometime in the later evening hours and was able to hop online and download the other two Buchanan Brothers books. And later in the week, when I had gorged on nearly everything that Harlequin had to offer I moved onto the Pocket ebooks. I don’t know that would have been possible in a bookstore. First, it’s questionable whether the bookstore would have had the entire backlist available. The Marcelli sisters books were first released in 2003. Second, the bookstores weren’t open when I purchased the books either because it was late at night or early in the morning. Third, I was able to buy them without leaving my house, changing my clothes, or spending gas. A trip to the bookstore would have cost me at least a book.


Which leads me to another reason I like ebooks. The price of ebooks, while higher than I like, are almost always discounted. Generally speaking, I don’t pay more than 75% off the cover price of an ebook (unless I am buying straight from an epublisher like Samhain or Loose ID). I know that for some readers this actually seems like a detraction because ebooks, overall, may cost more money given the lack of resale. However, two things come into play for me here. First, I only have the Half Price Bookstore to send my books to. I think that they give me 25 cents to a dollar for each book, depending on the format. My ebook discount makes up for that. Second, I tend to keep my books. I am always afraid that I might want to re-read them.

The non returnability of ebooks is frustrating for books that I am not happy with and I don’t like that there is no secondary market from which I can purchase. Lowering ebook prices could go along way in changing reading/buying habits. I noted, though, in more than one article about the Kindle that the $9.99 price point for hardcovers was a big plus.

Integrated Lighting Source.

A third reason I really love ebooks is the nighttime reading environment. Probably 75% of the reading I do is in bed. With a job, my family, and other obligations, I rarely have time to sit down during the day time hours to read. The lack of an integrated backlight is what prevents me from wholeheartedly embracing e ink technology. Booklights are just as intrusive, in my opinon, as a lamp. A backlit device such as the iPhone or eBookwise will not disturb your partner and it makes the eBook reading device available to you in all lighting situations such as subway tunnels, planes, and cars (or at the movie theatre as your daughter watches Happy Feet for the 5th time).

I asked Ned what he liked best about e-reading and he said that it was the convenience but also the nighttime reading environment. He falls asleep reading and his e-reading device goes to sleep with him after a period of inactivity.

Reducing Clutter.

The fourth reason I love ebooks is the declutterization (is that a word?) of my home. I’ve got hundreds of paperbacks vying for storage. I have books under my bed, in the basement, on a wall to wall bookshelf in a guest room. There was a time that it seemed like we couldn’t turn around without stumbling over a pile of books. With ebooks, I’ve managed to take a bit of control over the disarray and reinstitute some order.

There are more reasons that I love ebooks but these are four good ones. At some point, one of these will drive a commenter here to ebook reading and she may never go back to paper. What are some of the reasons that you like ebooks and what are some of things that hold you back?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Ann Somerville
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 04:52:10

    Readers who read on the desktops/laptops alone will never be ebook aficionados

    Uh, though I strongly agree with all your other points, you’re wrong on this. Possibly because I was well-trained by fanfic, but I do 99.99% of my reading on my iBook now. I find it physically painful to read paper books, and I used to adore book stores and libraries. Now I think, god, the typeface is too hard to read, the book’s dirty (from libraries), where will I store the thing (our house is crammed with books of all kinds), and so on. My Mac is all I need for reading pleasure :)

    As an author, ebooks are great – the process of getting a book through the editing/publishing process is faster, epublishers will take the genre I adore to read and to write, and readers will take a chance on a new author because they’re not being stiffed (usually) on the price. I’m convinced dead tree books are not the way of the future, at least not for entertainment reading.

  2. Ana
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 05:25:56

    I always thought I would never go e-reading. I love the feel of books, I love seeing them in my book shelves. But since I started the booksmugglers, I have been receiving more and more e-ARCs and the need for an e-reader grows. But suddenly I find myself not only needing it but also WANTING an e-reader. Mostly for reasons 1 and 4, although let me say this, reason 3 had never occurred to me, I never knew that an e-reader had integrated lighting and with that bit of information, I am completely sold – my main problem with my partner is me wanting to read in bed and he wanting to you know, actually sleep LOL. So, I will definitely look into this seriously now.

    So yes, thanks Jane, for the amazing post.

  3. Maria
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 05:27:29

    >>Readers who read on the desktops/laptops alone will never be ebook aficionados.

    Actually, I am a fan of ebooks despite the fact that I am forced to read off a PC. But I do agree with all your other reasons. My home is bloated with books, this despite the fact that I donate to libraries and women’s shelters regularly.

    The bottom line is cost. I need the readers to come down in price a little more, then I will gladly lighten the load in my house even further. I am more than ready to read ebooks over paper.

  4. eggs
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 05:44:04

    I also read mostly on an imac and sometimes on a palm and, if anything, I find the palm to be harder on my eyes than the mac screen. I can’t take my mac with me to read on the bus, but with our wireless network I can read the ebooks in any room in the house which is enough mobility for me.

  5. Sarah McCarty
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 06:39:12

    I agree for all your reasons, and I was terrified of ebooks. It took me six months to buy my first ebook. I kept putting it in the cart and then, well, running away. I was illogically convinced I couldn’t possibly manage buying, opening, and reading an ebook. When I finally clicked on the buy button, the whole experience was anti-climatic. And easy! LOL!

    I soon bought a few more, and a few more, and then well, I had an inventory of a hundred, so I decided to buy an ebook reader. That freed me up even more, and I realized it really was possible to take my whole library with me where ever I went so I had endless choice as to what to read while at the kids sports practices, doctors offices, etc. With that much inventory, I could read to suit my mood at the time rather than trying to predict it. That was the turning point for me. When that realization hit, I became a dyed in the wool ebook fanatic. Pretty much, if I can’t buy a book in eformat, I don’t buy it.

    Last November I upgraded from my ebookwise 1150 to a Kindle and now I have a bookstore with me wherever I go. *happy sigh* My ebook love affair continues.

    I am currently working on getting my reference library converted. That’s a little harder but slowly, but surely getting there.

  6. Tracey
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 07:10:20

    As for me, I prefer the low tech of printed books. I don’t doubt that e-books are the wave of the future, but I hope that there will always be room for books that have weight and solidity. Here are some reasons why.

    1. Books made of paper are convenient. You don’t need to buy an e-book reader or a Kindle to read a book made of paper–and for me, that’s definitely a consideration. I can’t afford $359.00 for a Kindle (the current reduced price for one). Nor can I afford to keep buying upgrades for e-book readers as they keep getting more complex.

    The tech of a paper book, on the other hand, is simple. You pick it up and you open it, and voilá, it works–without spending hundreds of dollars to make it do so. You don’t have to know what buttons to push or how to program a printed book. It doesn’t have to be in a particular format, as e-books do (e-books not sold by Kindle don’t work on Kindle, for example). If you can open the book and you can read, a paper book works.

    Furthermore, a paper book will still function without being charged up, or indeed if electricity is unavailable. I live in an area that is subject to many storms and frequent blackouts. I’ve already had the experience of having no lights, microwave, refrigerator, stove, TV, computer/Internet and medical equipment for days, even weeks; I would prefer that my books were not dependent on electricity as well. (Not to mention batteries, a power adapter and a USB 2.0 cable.)

    2. The cost of e-books, too, is a problem. I love books; I’d fill my house with them if I could afford it. The fact that I can’t restrains my buying habits. But what I’m hearing from users of e-book readers is that they buy lots of e-books at once, because the e-books are relatively cheap. Of course, if you’re consistently buying a great many books (in whatever format), eventually the expense will mount–and you will end up spending more, not less.

    Nor is there a way to avoid the expense; currently, e-books are only available for first sale. They cannot be re-sold at garage sales or bought from secondhand stores. And they certainly cannot be found at the budget-conscious reader’s first and last refuge, the public library. Therefore, there is only one place to obtain the e-books in a format compatible with the user’s e-reader–the online stores. And I do not think that the prices for e-books will remain low indefinitely.

    3. As for the lighting, I don’t find it pleasant. There are days when the glowing screen of my computer monitor hurts my eyes; on days like that, I don’t want a backlit book as well. Flat, un-glowing paper, lit by sunlight or lamplight, is easier for me and causes less eyestrain.

    4. As for storage…there is less clutter involved with e-Books, yes. To me, that’s not an advantage. My house is comfortably cluttered with print books, and I like it that way. (After spending months convalescing in nursing homes where clutter and books are frowned on, you might, too.) I like being able to stretch forth my hand and pick up a book anytime I wish.

    I also worry about the storage of e-books. After all, the space for them is not infinite; Kindle says that their device holds about 200 books. (This is probably not two hundred big fat books, either. Most likely, it’s two hundred average-sized books.)

    That speaks of a finite memory. What happens when the Kindle is full and no more books can be stored? Should the owner delete some of the e-books to make way for new ones? Or should the owner get a new Kindle and start all over again? That would grow hideously expensive, and yet the idea of deliberately erasing a book is an abhorrent one.

    Then, too, if the e-books are in an electronic format, I suspect that it’s possible for the text to be corrupted. It can happen online and with word processing documents, for instance; I don’t see why an e-book couldn’t suffer the same fate. A print book doesn’t experience that sort of problem.

    I know that many people enjoy e-book readers, and that’s fine. But for me, the devices seem inconvenient and expensive. Moreover, I like being able to hold a book, to feel its cover and its pages, even to smell it. I like being able to feel the weight of it, to watch the play of sunlight on an illustrated page, to open the book in the middle or at the end without having to go through an electronic middleman. I hope that print books will remain an option for a very, very, VERY long time to come.

  7. MoJo
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 07:55:21

    Jane: Preachin’ the Gospel of the E-Book. Amen and Hallelujah and all that.

  8. Keishon
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 08:23:18

    I’m one of the readers who moved to ebooks after reading one of your articles – Let’s Talk Ebook Tech. You had listed a LOOX 720 device that I bought and still love to use today. As an aside, it was foreign made with no US support except from the website that sold it to me and it is now discontinued. Heh.

    I’ve been using the LOOX 720 exclusively for ebooks and I have not had any problems with the device. The battery life is amazing and with uBook on there, it renders my ebooks perfectly, allowing the reader to adjust the look and feel of the book.

    I think if more readers had a device that they enjoyed reading ebooks on then yeah, it will be their preferred format, too. I can’t for the life of me see reading ebooks on a laptop (never did it and never will).

    The only time I buy books in paper format–today– is when I am forced to do so because I really, really, really want to read the book, otherwise, ebooks are #1 with me. Some books I won’t even buy UNLESS it is in ebook format otherwise, I won’t read it.

    I love reading ebooks for all the reasons you stated. I remember my attitude about ebooks when they first started to come out and I think even Stephen King at the time supported it, only having his books come out in e only. Anyway I had a huge aversion to the format, wishing it would die, die, die – but once I had a device that was a nice reading platform for ebooks that I found reading your article, I took the plunge and ended up embracing this technology. Of course, I started off with MSLit and then moved onward from there. Hey, I was new, what did I know.

    I think the cost of ereaders are prohibitive as is the cost of most ebooks for potential readers – I am still shocked and angered when I see a hardcover price for an ebook when it is also available in paperback. What is the deal with that I ask you? But those books are few and far between, thank goodness. I have noticed that while the hardcover is not released in ebook, the paperback version is usually available in ebook for the paperback price. I’ve started noticing this trend. Anyway, I’ve rambled and gushed enough this morning.

    One other thing – another advantage of ebooks is that publisher’s are starting to use them to promote books! Julia Spencer-Fleming’s publisher made the ebook versions of her first two books free to readers. That was awesome. We should probably see a lot more of that.

    Whatever reasons that keep people away – a lot of the time it is cost and the technology seems to be intimidating and too much work to implement which is a far cry from the truth (the implementation part).

  9. Jennifer Estep
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 08:26:22

    Readers who read on the desktops/laptops alone will never be ebook aficionados. The constant flicker of a monitor screen tires ones' eyes and it might seem to much like work with so many of us tied to our computers during the work day. Only those readers who can go untethered from the laptop/desktop will truly feel the joy of the ereading experience.

    Yeah, it does seem like work. I read/edit/deal with tons of stuff on the computer at work, and then I go home, sit back down in front of the computer, and write/edit my own stuff. So when I read for pleasure, I want to curl up in a chair with something that does not have an electronic screen.

    Also, I think there’s an aesthetic to paper books that’s just impossible to replicate with an e-book. The rustle-rustle of pages, that faint musty smell, watching the progress you make by how thick or thin the remaining pages are, being able to flip back to re-read a favorite section. That’s all part of what made me fall in love with books in the first place.

    I also worry about buying an e-reader and then finding out the books I want to read aren’t in a format my e-reader supports or just not available at all. Or is that still a major hassle anymore?

    I also worry that the reader will be obsolete in a year or two when the powers that be come out with the latest, greatest thing. It seems like just yesterday folks were buying the original iPhone and now a year (or two?) later, you can get an even better, cheaper version. Frankly, if I’d bought the original iPhone, I’d be ticked that there was a new version out already — and that I was expected to pony up another $400 for it.

    That being said, I totally agree with you about the e-ARCs. I’ve done them for all my books. Much cheaper, much easier, and much better for the environment than trying to do paper copies. Plus, people always have the option of printing out the pages, if you send it as a PDF.

  10. Keishon
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 08:39:57

    That speaks of a finite memory. What happens when the Kindle is full and no more books can be stored? Should the owner delete some of the e-books to make way for new ones? Or should the owner get a new Kindle and start all over again? That would grow hideously expensive, and yet the idea of deliberately erasing a book is an abhorrent one

    Please do not brush all ebook devices with one stroke here. You have your dedicated ebook readers and then other devices that can read ebooks as well like my Pocket PC among other things. As for memory – I have over 200 ebooks on my device with a little over 1 GB of memory left. I’m not a Kindle fan and will never buy the device because – well that’s another topic/rant altogether for another day.

    also worry about buying an e-reader and then finding out the books I want to read aren't in a format my e-reader supports or just not available at all. Or is that still a major hassle anymore?

    That’s a problem and always has been and I don’t see it going away anytime soon unless the format wars end (wouldn’t hold my breath on that).

  11. Evecho
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 08:42:01

    I enjoy books and magazines in both dead tree and e-format. The interaction involved in reading a print book and reading with online access is quite different. For the present, neither format satisfies EVERYTHING we are used to with EVERYTHING we want it to be. As with any infant industry, teething problems are to be expected.

    If I may add one more point to Jane’s list, e-format allows readers to access books that may be prohibited by governments. For the fringe readerships of LGBTIQs or any communities with limited access to their literature, this is a strong argument for making more e-books available.

    As to why I like e-books:

    I’ve been actively reading online and onscreen since 2000. I really enjoy the literature available to me at a click of the mouse. I have never had more to read or to learn, and it only costs me time. Reading is part of my lifestyle, format is irrelevant.

    I am not married to my shelf of books although I would never part with them. It’s just that those books were hard sought and much wanted. And in those days there were no alternatives. Today, they serve more as a display of my reading history than actually being read.

    Due to the explosion of e-book discussions in every reading group I’m in, I dusted off my PDA (Asus, WinMob with five reader formats inside) to see if I enjoyed using it again. (I had stopped using it when I got a new laptop) Yes, I did. I use my PDA while commuting. It is such a pleasure to read one-handed, standing up, then slipping it into my pocket when I’m done. No muss no fuss barely any weight. If I really like an author in e-book, I’ll take the time to buy a print copy of said book. I can save all my e-books in a storage drive and tuck them away. Space is premium when you live in an apartment.

    Whether it’s a dead tree book or e-book, what matters to me is the experience of reading a particular book – how it affected me. Because ultimately, substance should be more important than form when it comes to literature.

  12. Peggy Pennell
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 08:47:15

    I’m a Kindle fanatic – I have never once regretted the cost of the Kindle or the cost of the books – it has changed my reading habits forever. I have arthritis in my hands and to physically hold a book for any length of time was impossible and to try to angle it on my lap or on the arm of the chair was frustrating and awkward(and paperback books are the worst…they won’t stay open). If you’re young or unarthritic I’m sure this sounds like a petty issue (and 10 years ago I would’ve agreed) but Kindle has made it possible for me to read comfortably for as long as a I want…priceless!

    Prior to Kindle I read ebooks on my laptop which was good but not perfect and until something better is invented I consider Kindle perfection. Plus I’m really hooked on sample chapters…some of the samples are so long I’m well into a book and just have to buy it or I know right away this isn’t the book for me.

    Storage of books will never be a problem with Kindle, I bought a 2G card for mine and haven’t even begun to use it – it will hold thousands of files and I can keep buying cards and filling them…but Amazon stores all my files also, all the music I’ve bought plus the books are available to me anytime through my Amazon account.

  13. katiebeez
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 09:18:29

    I agree with you on most points. I have always felt like I must be some kind of monster because I don’t really like shelves and shelves of paperback books (even though I do really enjoy reading). Even when I give books away I accumulate stacks, and no matter how I arrange them I don’t find them pretty to look at on a shelf (especially when they are jammed together for lack of space). Sigh…

    I do not worry about storage space on the devices – it’s just like an mp3 player, you can store them on your pc hard drive easily.

    The only thing I don’t like is that if I get an e-Reader I can’t lend my books to friends and family as easily. This is one aspect of paper books that I really enjoy.

    I would also like my potential e-Reader to read every format under the sun so that I can use it for work documents and whatever else I can think of that I’d want to read on it.

  14. Terry Odell
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 09:46:21

    I’d hardly been aware of e-books or readers until I started writing for primarily electronic publishers. I’m definintly not a techno-geek. But I found a lot of advantages to e-books, and agree with the points made in the post and comments.

    I, too, wish the formatting issues would be resolved. I got my reader before the Kindle came out (but after the Sony, I recall). It’s the eBookwise which has its own goods and not-so-goods. I love the back light. I don’t mind the screen; it’s easier on my eyes than both paper and the computer monitor (and since I’m a writer, if I see a book on a monitor, I immediatley start editing). I only paid about $130 for my reader. It doesn’t have the selection of the other readers because publishers aren’t all keen on offering the formats it accepts (although this is another strange one, because sometimes I can find two out of three books in a series in the right format, but not the third).

    It’s great for catching up on backlists — I’m currently filling the reader with J.A. Jance’s Beaumont series. It’s great for travel. It’s great for reading in bed. It’s great because I can read one-handed and enjoy a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate (and the pages don’t get dirty)

    And all the books are stored on line, so I can delete them from my reader without ‘losing’ them.

    Will I stop reading paper? No. They’re different media, and there are times and places where one works better for me than the other. But I sure appreciate the choice.

    And I know my publishers would be happy to provide you with e-ARCs.

  15. Erastes
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 09:57:15

    I’ll never be convinced. Here’s my reasons for sticking to Old Tech:

    1. I am careless. Mobile phones last days, weeks, months with me. I get them wet, I drop them, I lose them, they get stolen. I now buy the cheapest phone I can because I know it will be dead before the year is out. There’s no way I could have any sort of Reader until it can be as bomb proof as some of the digital cameras around.

    So – I’m careless with books too. I read in the bath every day, and have destroyed many books over the years this way. However – what do I do? I go and buy another book – which is good news for the author.

    2. Someone said to me – “oh but a Reader is so convenient! you can read it in the doctors or the dentist or on the bus…” I blinked and pulled my book out of my handbag. The ONLY reason I can see why a Reader would come into its own would be for travelling. I travelled around the world a few years back and was forced to manage with Lord of the Rings. A Reader meant I could have taken 100’s of books with me.

    But then, we are back to point 1. It wouldn’t have made it intact as far as Cairo.

    3. Pirating. You have a paper book and you lend it to a friend. If I don’t get it back, I buy another one. However – if you have a ebook – it’s capable of being sent to everyone with a PC. Not good for royalties at all. Look at Harry Potter, the book was pirated before it was out on the shelves. Sure – JKR ain’t hurting, but a lesser author would feel it. Katiebeez says that isn’t “so easy” on a Reader, which I didn’t know – so that’s good news.

    4. Visual Impairment. Many people will say “oh Audio Books!” but many blind and visual impaired people PREFER Large Print and Braille books to audio. They want the same immersive experience as the rest of us.

    I do have some ebooks, I get them for review purposes mainly but I print them out.

    What about recycling, too? How recyclable are dead Readers? Plastic takes 100s of years to degrade (if ever) and paper is made into new books. – plastic is dependent on oil (isn’t it? I think?) for production, and trees are a renewable resource.

  16. Cindy
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 09:57:45

    I love books in both formats too..paper and electronic. I read on my desktop and when I finally get a laptop, I’ll be reading on there as well. When they come up with an e-reader I can afford (around $100) that supports PDF and memory cards, I’ll buy one. But this suits me fine…I’m too prone to falling asleep while reading in bed. And that’s generally where I read, since my purse is too small for a paperback. The only books I currently keep are ones to be read…I haven’t the space for keepers. But having them on memory card, in the pc or on cd to back them up (for myself only) takes little to no space and I can keep all I want.

  17. azteclady
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 10:21:38

    I don’t think I’ll ever be an ‘ebooks only’ reader, because I enjoy having a book in my hands. It’s not just the content–the words, the rhythm, the world created, the story–it’s the sensory input of having something tangible, with heft and weight to it.

    However, in the past six months or so, I’ve gotten a fair number of ebooks and/or eARCs, that I have been reading off my desktop monitor. Not fun for me, because if I am enjoying the story I’ll end up sitting up for six or more hours without moving, and by the time I surface, I’ll be stiff and achy and cranky–which is the opposite of what I’m looking for when reading.

    So I would like to get a simple (read cheap) e-reader that would allow me to read pdf and perhaps Word–but with every one out there costing hundreds of dollars, it may take a good long while before I actually get one.

    Even then, I don’t see myself changing my buying or reading habits all that much–my book buying budget is tiny and that won’t change if I do get an e-reader, so it makes much more sense to go to a UBS and hunt for out of print books than to pay full price for an e-book. Plus, as it is, I have a tottering mountain of TBR books because there are only so many hours in the day–having thousands more books in electronic format wouldn’t really give me more time to read them, only a longer TBR list.

  18. romsfuulynn
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 10:39:06

    I love ebooks, and will continue to buy paper books. I want both!

    That said
    1. Visual impairment – on the PC screen my low vision spouse can have ebooks with half inch high type.

    2. Number of ebooks – I keep the primary copy of my ebooks on my PC, which is backed up regularly. I’ve been buying ebooks since at least 1999. The ones I’ve bought from Baen, fictionwise & ereader (last two now one company) sit peacefully online as well as on my computer and if my house burned down I’d still have them available.

    3. I own well over 1000 legitimately purchased ebooks – and I can have them all with me on a secure digital card the size of a postage stamp.

    4. I do have concerns about format obsolescence. I bought books from Embiid, which did not stay in business. I chose (in order to support the authors) to repurchase them from Baen, but I maintained the books and encryption locally and can still get at them.

    5. Piracy/unauthorized electronic editions. If I have purchased a legal electronic edition, I only feel slightly guilty about finding an electronic version that is not DRM’d. I feel slightly more guilty about finding electronic versions of things that I own in paper that aren’t available in any electronic version, but only slightly if I have it in paper. And I can and do buy authorized (and much cleaner and error free) versions of these if they become available. I do feel somewhat more guilty about unauthorized versions of things I don’t own in paper. But I think about the public library and the fact that the author wouldn’t benefit if I bought it second hand and it passes.

  19. AnimeJune
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 10:41:45

    I dunno, I hate, hate, hate reading off a screen. I need to turn the pages, see how far I’ve come (it’s irritating reading the “page 34/100” at the bottom of a screen.

    Plus, books are an object as well as a medium, as Stephen King as said. They’re furniture. They have beautiful covers, they are fun to hold, and they make a library look awesome. Most of the e-book covers I’ve seen are absolutely hideous and turn me right off.

    I don’t have to download a book. I don’t have to wait for it to boot up. They won’t suddenly crash or develop bugs the longer I have a book. Yeah, sure, the Kindle can hold a 100 books – and if you drop it in a mud puddle, you’ve just LOST a 100 books.

    Reading is a material as well as a mental pleasure for me, and with my ADD brain I skim computer screens too much. I think I’ll stick to physical books for now.

    Plus – buying physical books has the physical pleasure of browsing. I occasionally buy books I know I want off Chapters and Amazon, but there’s such a pleasure in walking down a bookstore and looking at all the covers and picking them up and testing their weight that would all be lost if I just had to scroll down a computer screen looking for an e-book.

  20. katiebabs
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 10:43:10

    I enjoy reading ebooks because of cutting back on the clutter of print books, but after awhile my eyes get a bit tired from staring at the computer screen. Does this happen to anyone else?

  21. Emmy
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 10:52:23

    many blind and visual impaired people PREFER Large Print and Braille books to audio

    E-book readers generally allow one to increase or decrease the font size to comfort. This would actually work out BETTER for a visually impaired person because they don’t have to look for special books to meet their needs. They can buy any e-book they like and increase the font.

    Readers who read on the desktops/laptops alone will never be ebook aficionados

    I read almost exclusively on my laptop, and my ebook library is outpacing my print library ATM with well over 1000 e-book titles at last count. My Sony reader is for work breaks, as it’s smaller and more easily transported. I enjoy reading on my laptop’s 17″ HD widescreen, and my HP is cool enough that I can put it on my stomach to read. I like the fact that I can hop online and browse when I want a break from reading books as well.

    Pirating…blah. We’ve beat that one into the ground multiple times lately. Let the horse have some rest already.

  22. che
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 10:52:48

    I would love to have an e-book reader, but I simply can’t afford it. Then there’s the fact that I buy and sell a lot of my used books on eBay, which you cannot do with e-books. I live on a limited income, and though I never make a profit off any of the books that I sell, every little bit I get back helps. So, that’s the main drawback for me.

  23. Jody W.
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 10:53:27

    I like both formats, paper and plastic! I’m waiting for the perfect ebook reader to upgrade from my handy little backlit PDA. I’ve started to choose ebooks instead of paper when they’re books I’m willing to buy new, though I still buy discounted and used books in paper. I rarely buy paper new unless they’re books where I have the rest of the series in paper, and only if the series is a keeper. Having an ebook reader doesn’t mean you have to eschew all paper books!

    But you’re right about one thing — I wouldn’t and don’t read ebooks on my computer unless I absolutely have to, like I’m critiquing a friend’s manuscript or something.

    The main thing that frustrates me (besides the format wars) is when people turn their noses up or even get hostile about ebooks. I don’t snob off about the fact they DON’T like them…to each his/her own, man.

  24. Emmy
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 11:00:49

    the Kindle can hold a 100 books – and if you drop it in a mud puddle, you've just LOST a 100 books

    Those of us who are smarter than the average bear have learned to save e-book files in multiple places. I have mine on my reader, my laptop, my computer backup file, and a thumb drive. If I drop my reader, all I’ve lost is the reader. There are several other ways I can still read my books until I get another reader. If I drop my print book in the same mud puddle, I may or may not be able to salvage that either. There are handy dandy waterproof holders for most e-book readers.

  25. Tamar
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 11:11:09

    Well, I just finished reading my very first ebook. I was nervous about the small screen (I’m using an iPhone) and whether I’d become as wrapped up in the story, if the reading experience would be lessened. I’m entirely hooked. I doubt I’ll go ebook-only, for various practical and emotional reasons, but I was pleasantly surprised. I got very involved in the story and stayed up far too late last night reading. And I can already see a lot to love about reading on my palm-sized device.

    I love that I can now carry around, not one, but ten books in my bag without adding any weight. (When I’m finishing one book and not sure which one I’ll pick up next, I often try to cram three paperbacks into my bag, along with juice boxes for the kid, sunblock, advil, etc. Needless to say, I destroy bags.) This will be especially useful when I head to RWA; I can leave room for books I’ll buy there and lug back with me, but still have plenty of choices for the rest of the wait-in-the-terminal, sit-on-the-plane-for-hours journey.

    I love that I can read in the dark without disturbing anyone (my son, last night).

    I love Jane’s idea of setting up a bookshelf where authors can submit free ebooks or partials, so I as a reader can get a larger taste of a writer’s style than I could either from Amazon’s “look inside” feature or from standing in a bookstore flipping through pages.

    I love that I can buy and read a book that’s not in the library, a book that I know I’ll only read once, and not have to worry afterwards about how to get it out of my already overstuffed house.

    I love that I’m not adding to the accretion of waste product that already overwhelms the environment.

    And I love that nobody will be sneering at the ridiculous clinch cover if the book is a romance — because they can’t see the cover!

  26. Kerry
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 11:44:52

    Nor is there a way to avoid the expense; currently, e-books are only available for first sale. They cannot be re-sold at garage sales or bought from secondhand stores. And they certainly cannot be found at the budget-conscious reader's first and last refuge, the public library. Therefore, there is only one place to obtain the e-books in a format compatible with the user's e-reader-the online stores. And I do not think that the prices for e-books will remain low indefinitely.

    I’m a librarian and a library user, and I just wanted to mention that the public library may indeed offer access to digital media. We’re very interested in reaching people in this way, and there is a large demand. I’m familiar with Cleveland Public Library’s digital collection, which includes e-books in Adobe and the Mobipocket format, as well as audiobooks, digital music files and video. The digital collection allows you to check out 20 items and they expire after 21 days. It’s very convenient for my needs.

    Even if your community doesn’t offer something like this, it may in the future.

  27. cecilia
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 13:22:06

    I would also like my potential e-Reader to read every format under the sun so that I can use it for work documents and whatever else I can think of that I'd want to read on it.

    I just discovered by accident that Mobipocket can read Word and PDF files, so I can transfer almost anything onto my newly acquired e-reader (a long-desired upgrade from a Pocket PC). I’m not crazy about the page-changes, but the quality of the “print” is fantastic.

    Plus, books are an object as well as a medium, as Stephen King as said. They're furniture. They have beautiful covers, they are fun to hold, and they make a library look awesome. Most of the e-book covers I've seen are absolutely hideous and turn me right off.

    I love physical books as much as anyone, but the vast majority of the books I read are not worth much in their physical presence. I have over 2000 ebooks on my computer, which I devoured like junk food and quickly forgot, for the most part. If I’d bought them in paper form, not only would they have cost more, but I would have schlepped them out to the UBS to add to my massive store credit there, which I can never use up, because they rarely have much that interests me. I’d never be able to read them again, and by taking them to the UBS, I haven’t actually gained much. On my computer, they take up no space, and I’m rediscovering some of those forgotten stories (since the happy accident with the PDF files). I have a room full of tree-books that I value, but it’s overflowing onto the dining room table as it is, and regardless, there’s no way I’d want to store the mountains of mass market, tacky-covered paperbacks that I go through, and I certainly wouldn’t consider that they add anything to my decor.

  28. Leah
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 13:42:33

    I’m kind of a neophobe when it comes to electronic stuff, but when someone here or on another website mentioned the Kindle’s storage capacity and its possible impact on clutter, I suddenly became very interested. I have a limited amt of space and an unlimited desire for books. Just now, my keeper shelf is pretty much full, and I know that I will have more books I would like to keep in my lifetime! I would say abt half of the books I would be happy to have in an e-version only. And I would have very little trouble buying fluff fiction and then deleting it later–I swap most of it now. I do like writing in books, though, so I would probably still buy history, bio and religion in paper form. Also, as I am a person who takes way too many books on vacation (I have a horror of being bored), this would help me pack as well. I think I’ll give it another yr or so to come down in price, and then jump in.

  29. Steph
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 14:10:32

    I have a YA review site and, living abroad, some publishers don’t ship here — they take to sending me electronic copies instead. I’ve stopped accepting those because I absolutely abhor e-books — I’m what I call a sentimental reader, and I like marking up the page, rereading and just getting the physical experience of reading books. The clutter doesn’t bother me at all (hell, I’m a teen, I love clutter).

    So I do hope publishers won’t transition to e-ARCs. While I can see the benefits to this, which you outlined above, I just can’t wrap my mind around it. I don’t think e-reading will ever be as prominent as bound-book-reading is now.

  30. Jessa Slade
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 14:27:03

    I remember years ago, THEY promised us by 2007 we’d have “e-paper”: something that looked and felt like paper but the words on the page changed. I guess they decided a screen was good enough, even though it doesn’t capture the tactile sensation.

    Of course, THEY also promised us personal transportation jet-packs by 1967 and look where we are. Technology changes so fast and yet sometimes nothing’s really different. Go figure.

  31. Kerry D.
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 15:14:17

    I’m probably about a 50/50 ebook/tree book reader. I still tend to buy my keepers in paper, but anything I’m less sure about I’ll buy as an ebook.

    I read on a Palm TX and love it. As mentioned above, the backlit screen is wonderful for reading at night after my husband has turned out the light and I love being able to vary the font size. I often find myself struggling to read mass market paperbacks these days as big books get squeezed into as small a package as possible and the font gets smaller as a result. Once I could read those tiny fonts, but as I get older I find it harder and harder.

    Like the poster above with arthritis, the weight is also an issue for me. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and holding a little screen rather than a heavy book where I have to hold the pages open is so much easier, especially if I’m lying down.

    I’ve said this before, but cost is a really major factor for me. I live in New Zealand and with the exchange rates and shipping, the local cost of books is prohibitive. By buying an ebook I’m usually paying a bit less than half the amount it would cost me in paper, so authors and books I want to try out get bought as ebooks.

    Although, with that said I admit to being inconsistent. If I want a book immediately it’s published and it comes out in hardcover, I’d rather buy the paper book. I’m on a budget and if I’m going to spend that much money I want something more tangible for it. Also, I’m more likely to want to lend those books.

    So yeah, I’m probably about 50/50, but I really do love ereading.

  32. Mad
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 16:21:08

    I used to say I would never read e-books…couldn’t see myself sitting at the computer reading them, you know? I went so far as to print out the few e-books I had at that time then last year I bought an eBookwise and I think it was the best money spent on an ereader. I love it. That’s not to say I’ve given up on print books…I still buy in both formats and go through phases of reading in both formats. If you asked my husband, he’d say he loves the eBookwise more…I can read in bed in the dark without disturbing him as I usually do when I’m reading a print book. *G*

  33. roslynholcomb
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 16:28:10

    I like e-books very much and I read on a desk top computer having neither a reader nor a laptop. I wish e-book readers weren’t so expensive I would probably buy one in a heartbeat. I like being able to sit in the den with my husband while he watches tv and I read. As things are now, I can’t do that. With some luck, maybe this time next year I’ll have a laptop as it’s my most pressing need. But I’d really love an e-book reader.

  34. Shanna
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 16:48:32

    I used to have a Compaq handheld PDA that I used to read ebooks on. I liked it because they were simple to download and great for traveling. Also, it was easy to whip out during a boring conference and start reading plus people would think I was working. Once I got rid of the PDA I stopped reading ebooks because I didn’t like using my laptop for that purpose. Now that I have an iPhone I will definitely be reading ebooks on it. However I don’t think I will completely forgo paper books.

  35. Bonnie
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 16:57:20

    Jane, I agree with everything you’ve said.

    I have a Kindle, and for my lifestyle it’s the perfect solution. I live in a big city, take mass transit to get around and am never without a book. Having a paperback in my bag isn’t going to help me when I’m finished with it. I want the next book. Now! I read like it’s my job, so being able to buy one right from my Kindle is important to me.

    I also don’t have the space to store the hundreds of books I’ve read over the years. I just had to get rid of about 500 books when I moved. Not anymore!

    Best money I’ve ever spent.

    But, it’s really a personal choice. I feel completely liberated not having all of those books laying around collecting dust and dirt.

  36. KB
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 17:15:45

    For me the convenience trumps everything. I use my PDA, wich was expensive, about $250 if I remember correctly, but it is my cellphone, calendar and address book all in one, and always with me. Add in the fact that I could have as many books as I wanted with me all the time, and the price was easy to pay. I very rarely read on my laptop, with my PDA I can read on the couch, in bed, waiting for someone at the doctors office, restaurant, whatever. I can read one handed in the bath or no hands at the table if I am eating alone. I make sure I always have a couple of good standbye’s loaded, plus whatever I am currently reading. I still get paperbacks, from the library (and hardcover, when it is a book I’ve been waiting for – I am a sucker for a series), but for buying, I am almost exlusively ebooks. At some point (hopefully soon) whatever system that the library is using for ebooks will be compatible with my PDA, but right now they don’t have a large selection so I haven’t worried about it too much.

    The downside is the cost of the books, since I used to get most of my books from the library and never bought hardcover. Author’s have definatley benefited from my ebook habit! Also, not being able to share is sometimes annoying, but doesn’t rate nearly as high as the convenience of never being without a book, being able to carry a small purse, and being able to buy at any time of day or night without leaving the house. Of course, the fact that I’ve memorized my credit card number is a bad sign about purchsing ebooks being TOO easy! Having my library fit on one flash drive rather than having to constantly go through my paperbacks and decide which ones I had room to keep is awesome, though I am looking forward to some better library software someday.

  37. Melisse
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 20:06:17

    I do almost all my book purchases and reading for my Palm z22. I know the small screen drives many crazy, but I have no issues with it.

    I do work on a computer, and can have eye fatigue from the monitor, but I don’t get that with the Palm, probably because I can change background colors and font size, and read without glare, which is not always possible on the computer.

    I really like the backlight and autoscroll function for reading in bed.

    The Palm holds about 35 books, and I store the rest on my hard drive or zipdrive. I buy mostly from Fictionwise which carries prc, but if I want to buy from a small publisher I can always get PDF, which can easily be converted to Mobipocket on my desktop. Most books now come out in eformat–right now I’m reading JR Ward’s latest.

    I can also put my own WIPs into PDF, convert them and read them on my Palm, which can come in handy while revising etc.

  38. Nicole
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 20:23:55

    I have a Sony Reader and really enjoy it. Before that I used a HP iPaq 4150(?). I love to read ebooks. So convenient to have hundreds of books at my fingertips.

    And yes, many libraries carry ebooks now. As well as e-audiobooks (not that that has anything to do with this article). And increasing the print is a definite plus for the visually-impaired. Or hell, just when you get tired late at night but must finish the book.

    I do miss my backlight a bit with my Sony Reader, but I do like the booklight I found as it gives me plenty of light yet doesn’t bother my husband.

    Working in a used bookstore, I do still read plenty of paper books, but since my demand for books definitely outpaces my space in my home, ebooks are a definite plus. Helps in the “you have too many books” discussions with the husband, too.

    Yes, I do like the physical quality of books, yet there’s just no way I can afford (as in space) to keep as many books as I want. Ebooks allow me to do that.

    And if the iPhone wasn’t AT&T exclusive, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. As it is, I do want an iTouch.

  39. orannia
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 20:27:50

    My problems are two-fold: 1) I borrow most of my books from the local library – I only buy what I term ‘keepers’….things I want to read immediately (although saying that my copy of Lover Enshrined went missing ‘in transit’ while the library’s copies arrived shortly after publication) so I can’t see e-books being cheaper than the library…although I think the library may be branching into digital media. Which leads me to 2) I don’t know where to start! There just seems to be so many different formats of books and readers…and when it comes to knowledge about such things I’m kindergarten level :) I just don’t know what to pick. So I guess for know I’m fence-sitting…. I haven’t even tried to read an e-book. A friend lent me her e-book reader to try but…it just seemed like a lot of effort. Saying that, I’ve only read one book this month so I think I need to, as Jane said, try it again when I’m in the right frame of mind :)


  40. K. Z. Snow
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 20:47:48

    You go, Jane! (I’ve been sorting through, for probably the 386th time in my adult life, the books I have in four separate areas of the property. It’s freakin’ hot and humid and stuffy around here, the books are often musty and dusty, my back is aching, I’m covered in filthy sweat . . . and I am, at the moment, all for saving trees.)

  41. Phyl
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 22:14:40

    What KB said. I love my Treo–phone, calendar, and ebook device that’s always in my pocket. I can read whenever and wherever.

    I’m also a heavy library user. I can’t afford to buy every book I read, but I do buy about 40% of what I read. My favorite sites are Fictionwise and eharlequin.

  42. Angelia Sparrow
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 22:25:39

    I read both e and paper. I buy e-books. The only paper I buy is very hard-to-get out-of-print stuff (the novels of Errol Flynn, for example). I read my paper from the library.

    With e-books, most of the time I know the person the money is going to as well.

  43. Robin
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 01:09:32

    3. Pirating. You have a paper book and you lend it to a friend. If I don't get it back, I buy another one. However – if you have a ebook – it's capable of being sent to everyone with a PC. Not good for royalties at all. Look at Harry Potter, the book was pirated before it was out on the shelves. Sure – JKR ain't hurting, but a lesser author would feel it. Katiebeez says that isn't “so easy” on a Reader, which I didn't know – so that's good news.

    While I understand the piracy argument, I find it deeply ironic, because ebooks that are DRM’d contravene the longstanding copyright limitations grounded in the First Sale Doctrine. In other words, they’re technically more protective of publisher/author copyright than paper books. Which means that I have to swallow the undermining of what I believe is fair in copyright (the limitation of the First Sale Doctrine and the unfair restrictions of DRM and the DMCA) every time I buy an ebook. Which I do. Often. Because of the convenience, the portability, and the lack of bookshelf space in my house. It took me a long time to take the plunge to become an ebook lover, but once I took the plunge, I haven’t turned back (and I’m one of those who feels perfectly comfortable reading on my Treo or my Mac). I totally understand those who prefer paper books (I love them, too, and can’t imagine a world in which they would not be available), but believe that I make a sacrifice as a reader every time I buy an ebook by bowing to the DRM and the DMCA, even though it goes against everything I believe about the essential balance of rights reflected by the First Sale Doctrine and copyright limitations more generally.

  44. SonomaLass
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 02:31:27

    Count me with the people who read e-books and dead tree books both. I buy some new, some used, get some from my library. I started with e-books when a)I got offered some free ones (yay Tor!) and b)I read some killer reviews of things that were only or more easily available as e-books. I read on my Mac laptop, and I don’t mind it; I sit in the same comfy chair either way, in my living room in the evenings.

    I have had some problems with certain e-book purchases, trying to get Adobe Digital Editions sorted out, but those seem to be fixed now. (When I first bought the second epilogues of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton books, available only as e-books, it took numerous support e-mails back and forth to get them to open — very frustrating. The last e-book I bought from that same site, Quinn’s Secret Diary of Miss Miranda Cheever, the process was fairly smooth and no help necessary.) I haven’t tried backing them up onto my external storage drive yet, and there may be more trouble waiting there, I know.

    My biggest issue with e-books now is the inability to lend them. I have gotten several friends and both of my daughters interested in certain authors or series by loaning them one book; they have then gone on to purchase subsequent books, because they liked what they read. I can’t do that with e-books, without loaning them my computer (not likely!), so while I’ve made recommendations, it hasn’t had the same domino effect. My family is a close one, and sharing books is special to us, so I would miss that without paper books.

    I also agree that cheaper isn’t always cheap enough, especially with things like my Borders discounts/coupons/”bucks” to spend. I have yet to buy anything in e-book format that I thought would be readily available in paper at my local store; I’d rather have the greater freedom of a paper book. My e-book reading is limited to things I would have to order from the publisher anyway, things that are free, and things that aren’t available in another format. Perhaps that’s why I don’t see myself investing in a dedicated reader; my laptop is enough for the e-book reading I do.

    If my library system starts making digital versions available, that would make a big difference. However I’m a format-phobe, having had technology go defunct out from under me before. Until the e-book version of “Beta-max versus VHS” is resolved, I won’t be spending money on a reader that does one format but not another.

    Thanks, Jane, for keeping the conversation going on this timely issue. And thanks to so many in this forum who have adopted a non-judgmental attitude — one reason I love this community is the number of people who can accept differing opinions without getting their knickers in a twist!!

  45. Kristie(J)
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 06:09:02

    I can’t see me ever being an ebook convert for many of the above reasons by other regular book readers.

  46. Azure
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 07:50:17

    I hesitated before buying my first ebook reader–the eBookwise. I wasn’t sure I would like the experience, and I didn’t like the selection the eBookwise store itself had. But then I read about how you could buy books in MS Reader format and convert them–and suddenly, the selection improved quite a bit. In the two and a half years since I bought my reader, the selection has continued to grow.

    Why do I love ebooks? Because I live an hour and a half from a decent bookstore. Because I’m able to carry sixty books in my purse on a long road trip instead of one. Because I’m able to read at night on that same trip without irritating the driver. And because now I can buy and read romance/erotica books without people giving me That Look (I think we all know what I’m talking about).

    Is it perfect? No. I get frustrated when something is released in formats for the Sony Reader or Kindle only–St. Martin’s Press, I’m looking at you!! As tempting as the Kindle is, with its’ “get-it-now” technology and ever-growing selection, I will never buy one because I trust as far as I can throw it. If I buy books for one Kindle, will I have to buy them again if I buy another one?

    And as many people have mentioned before, you can’t loan ebooks out. My mother bought the latest J.R. Ward book not realizing she needed to read the other books in the series first. When I told her this, she asked if I had the other books. While I did offer to loan her the reader, she said she’d buy them on her own but she was disappointed that she couldn’t start reading them right away.

    But overall, I’m very happy I bought my eBookwise.

  47. KMont
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 08:04:32

    I think there are good and bad points for both sides of this discussion and everyone has made some great observations. This kind of discussion is very helpful.

    I am one of those, though, that will likely always prefer a paper book to an ebook. Pretty much the only time I will take an electronic format these days is for ARC reviews and even then I am usually getting too far behind (like I am now with Shades of Dark) because I have to print the thing out.

    YES, I take an environmental step backwards and print the whole thing. I simply do not have the time to read on my computer and I hope to get an eBookwise one day simply for ARC PDFs and such, but right now, with a three-year-old and a still young and energetic husband, any time I sit down at the computer is instant mayhem of “Whatcha doin’?” and “Mommy, I need another popsicle” followed by the cat wanting to cuddle in the middle of it all. I can barely get an ARC printed before I’m besieged by normal, everyday life.

    The eBookwise would be great, I could lug that thing around and contribute to global health, but even at it’s much more reasonable price, I’m still at a point in my life when items like that are a luxury and I get it at Christmas or birthdays. I have an iPod (very old, 3rd Gen.), but the thought of reading from its tiny, too faint screen is a migraine waiting to stomp all over my brain. The thing was not made for reading books, clearly, and that wasn’t what I wanted it for anyway.

    Even if I do get an eBookwise one day, I will likely still purchase books. I agreed with a lot of what Tracey said. Books simply work. There’s nothing to download, plug in, recharge or fight with technologically – one less dang thing with a set of freaking cords ( and speaking of – what about all this old computer type equipment that is no longer used…how good is it for the environment?)! I can go into the store, smell all those wonderful pages and get the entire experience of reading. I might get a few ebooks for my reader, but I will always prefer a paperback. Who knows though. In the wise words of “never say never”, my preferences could certainly change one day.

  48. XandraG
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 09:18:35

    The transition of the majority of readers from print books to ebooks will not be televised. Probably because most people won’t be–and aren’t–aware that it’s actually happening to them. Think about how much you read online–newspaper articles, blog postings, rss feeds, even looking up instructions on how to do something, make something, or visiting a manufacturer site in the hopes of finding a copy of that manual for the blender you bought six years ago that tells you how to hook up the sausage grinder you never used. You already do read electronically. A lot.

    What’s likely to happen is that your reading habits will change. And so will many authors’ writing habits (story format). I would bet good money that as iPhones and iTouches (I use am, ahem, liberated iPod Touch to read many of my ebooks, but I read just as many on my laptop), and smartphones with larger screens trickle through the marketplace into more and more hands, we will begin to see more and more content offered up for delivery that suits these ways of reading.

    Wouldn’t it be an exciting time right now for the re-emergence of the serial? ;)

    You may never really glom onto reading a story told in the traditional novelized format that we expect today when we think of the word, “book.” But I bet you’d end up reading upwards of 100k of words in something that’s delivered in shorter chunks (like, say, a hard-hitting series of investigative journalism on the lack of chest haired men on romance covers ;) ).

    Ebook reading as we know it is picking up speed, and as the readers grow more technologically advanced, their value will become more apparent. In addition to these new-technology readers, never doubt that there is a thriving aftermarket for seemingly “obsolete” technology. In the open source community, there are hundreds of thousands of people using Linux and other open source software to give new life to old computers thanks to the ability of the open source community to streamline code to retrofit old hardware.

    Nothing will ever replace a print book in your hands. This is as true today as it was when the radio/TV/videogame/computer first found its way into the public’s imaginations. But it’s more about your mind. And your mind is plenty capable of expanding to make room for ebooks and whatever else comes along.

  49. Christine Merrill
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 09:39:09

    Wouldn't it be an exciting time right now for the re-emergence of the serial? ;)

    Actually, has been doing these for quite a while, with their Daily Reads. Approx 500 words a day, for 20 days. So, enough of a story to read on break at work. I just wrote one for September. It was a real kick.

    And they do some sort of phone download serials as well, but I don’t know much about that. Frankly, my eyes are old and tired, and reading on a cell phone would drive me totally bonkers.

    As far as the ebook/paper debate goes? I do not see the need for a technological revolution. There are many good reasons to get some things electronically, and it’s fine for people who enjoy it to move the majority of reading in that direction.

    But until the entire world (or even the majority of the world) has electricity, computers and reliable internet, ebooks will be a niche market.

    For large segments of the world population, paper books work better.

  50. Angelia Sparrow
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 10:02:21

    Xandra, Torquere Press runs a subscription serial service called Turn of the Screw. You get a new chapter of 4-5 different books every week. On week one, you might get the pirate novel, the fantasy novel, the gambler novel and the fireman novel. On week two it might be cowboys and sailors and musicians and spacemen.

    At the end of an 11 month run, the book is put out complete for download. After that, it’s available for purchase as a regular novel.

    My first novel came out that way.

    I personally don’t like the serial format. But that’s me, who can’t maintain interest in a TV show for a whole season either.

  51. karmelrio
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 11:39:56

    Best reason for e-books? No embarrassing clinch covers. Or if there IS one, I’m the only one who can see it.

  52. Ann Bruce
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 13:02:18

    I was reading one of Diana Gabaldon’s monstrous hardcovers in bed. It slipped from my hands and bonked me on the forehead. I decided then and there e-books are the way to go.

    But I still occasionally buy dead tree if paperbacks are 25%-50% off.

    As for someone mentioning libraries not having e-books, mine does. If your library doesn’t have e-books, that’s what the suggestion box is for.

  53. Jane
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 13:06:44

    I loved hearing both sides because I think it provides some tips to publishers and those developing ebook technology as to what works and what needs improvement.

  54. Mel
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 13:20:16

    Like Kerry D., I’m also a 50/50 reader. I love both formats and tend to carry my Palm as well as a print book. That way, if the print book’s a dud, I have a light weight back up. :-P

    The lack of a backlight was the e-ink deal breaker for me. I LOVE being able to read after dark on the porch, in bed after the hubby goes to sleep, in the car on long road trips.

    My library system also has access to PDF e-books as well as digital audiobooks, and that just makes e-books that much more convenient.

  55. Tracy
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 13:53:22

    I love ebooks! I love print books just as much though. I tend to go in cycles….ebook then print and back and forth. I never thought I’d love ebooks as much as I did when I finally started buying them but they’re wonderful. So much so that I broke down and bought an ebookwise and that has made me love them even more!

  56. Janine
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 14:22:35

    I still prefer paper books. I find it much easier to flip through them, and they are also easier on the eyes than my PDA. Plus I am not that good with technology. Though I understand why publishers use it, as a reader, the whole DRM thing puts me off.

    I have a lot of positive associations to paper books, too, and that’s a big part of it for me. Like others have said here, I love their weight and their feel and their scent. I love them as physical objects, and it’s hard to let go of that.

  57. Mireya
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 14:29:55

    No argument here, I LOVE ebooks and am a very vocal advocate of them. :)

  58. Lynne Connolly
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 18:28:27

    When I first started selling to e-publishers, I rather guiltily thought that I’d better start trying to read my books in e-format. It seemed a bit hypocritical not to.
    I have shelf after shelf of books, the dead tree kind, and I was running out of space.
    My first e-reader was a Palm V, an old monochrome pda I bought of ebay for a song. Even on that I could carry around 15 books. And it was backlit. I loved it. I bought another one. Again, for a song.
    Then I got an ebookwise, and this is my primary reader, although I have others. I read on my phone, on my pda and on my new Asus eee, the mini laptop. If I use the FBR reader, I can rotate the screen and hold the Asus like a book.
    So yes, I prefer the ebook format. Part of it is the convenience – I live in the UK and I can’t always get the dead tree book as fast as I want. The reading in the dark thing is a huge plus for me, as is the space saving. I just haven’t the room for all my books, and I’ve had a big clear-out of dead tree ones recently. The way you can alter the print size, the nice ergonomic design of most ebook readers – they are much easier to hold than a paper book, and the way I can carry a couple of hundred books around with me all help enormously.
    But it took a bit of perseverence, working through the readers until I found the ones that suited me best.

  59. Jessica
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 18:46:28

    Wow. I read four or five books a week and can’t imagine buying an e-reader. This does mean I haven’t read some of my fellow author’s (in my local RWA chapter) books from EC or Samhain. I get most books from the library (at my pace I could scarcely afford the bookstore) or from swaps. If my library had ebooks, I would definitely consider a reader to speed up the process of requesting, waiting, obtaining, and returning. For the books I do buy, I eliminate the clutter by donating or giving them away as soon as they’re done. I don’t have more than 10 or 20 books in my house at one time.

  60. Castiron
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 18:54:33

    I like ebooks, and for some purposes I actually prefer them (software manuals being a prime example). However, having gone through three Palm OS devices in eight years (device failure, not just wanting newer & spiffier), I’m not inclined to buy a dedicated ebook reader until someone comes up with one that’s designed to last and be usable for at least ten years while still being reasonably inexpensive.

    And without that small and portable ebook reader, it’s more convenient for me to read dead tree books. I do read ebooks on my computer, but that ties me to one place.

  61. Megaera
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 21:17:29

    The main reason I haven’t read ebooks is the upfront cost of an ereader. I spend too much time in front of my computer as it is, so without a reader it’s just not going to happen. And do you know how many paperbacks I can buy for the cost of an ereader???

    Also, I have a heck of a time learning new hardware (new software isn’t a problem), so any new device is an uphill thing for me.

  62. Vivienne Westlake
    Jul 22, 2008 @ 21:17:26

    I was slow to move to ebooks. Part of the reason is that I love the feel of holding a book in my hands. Books are my friends and I like being able to highlight them and mark them (at least my non-fiction books). My main reason for not switching to ebooks was the fact that I had to read them on my desktop and I found that irritating. I don’t want to sit and read for hours on my desktop unless I’m writing or editing my own book or editing my critique partner’s books.

    I finally bought the ebookwise because I wanted something inexpensive and I couldn’t afford the iRex Illiad or the Sony eReader. Once I got used to it, I loved reading on the ebookwise. My only problem with it is getting books onto the machine. I can’t save books onto the memory card as others seem to be able to do, so I have to buy all my books in HTML (the ones I can’t get from ebookwise directly), convert them to .doc and then upload them to the ebookwise website and download them into the machine. It’s not as horrendous as it sounds–after you’ve done it a couple of times. But, I seriously wish I could get Samhain and Ellora’s Cave books from the ebookwise website as it is totally annoying sometimes to have to convert several books and put them into my machine. Once they’re in my machine, it’s great!

    So, I think I’d become more of an avid ebook reader if downloading books was simpler. But, I do enjoy the convenience of having many books with me when I’m on the go and being able to go back and forth between several books, if I want.

  63. XandraG
    Jul 24, 2008 @ 10:34:39

    I’m also a big crusader for ebooks because I have elementary school-aged children and our average elementary schooler here in my district carries a backpack weighing anywhere from twenty to forty pounds. Having recently gone through a back injury full of screaming hell-pain (and this thing was minor–I have serious respect for anybody who’s had a moderate to serious back injury), I do not wish a lifetime of chiropractic misery on my kids, or anyone’s kids. A single (durable, flameproof, gumproof, juice-box proof) e-reader (that had its own jet-pack to follow the right kid home) is a crusade I’m willing to ride to war for.

    Seriously, the technology is emerging and it will shake out to something that works for enough of a majority. My dream is to see a business model that lets the reader pick their own format–either instant download (whether it’s from shopping at home or at a kiosk in a bookstore or coffeeshop or something), or print-on-demand format of choice (either MM, trade, or something durable like library bound or hard cover. There would be price adjustments for the print versions, and bookstores could choose to print up a set number of copies to have on hand in small numbers.

    Yes, I know there are holes in it, but nothing insurmountable to an industry properly motivated.

  64. Blog Kindle · Sunday Night Links: 27 July 2008
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  65. Amy Wolff Sorter
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 18:48:55

    This is a fascinating discussion. As an author, I submitted (and published) with an e-publisher because I wrote erotica and, at the time, not many of the mainstream publishers accepted it. But this was several years ago and trying to market it was a nightmare. People equated e-books to “crap.” :-)

    This is why I find it so interesting that, these days (thanks to eReader devices), ebooks are becoming more popular. I like them too, for a lot of the reasons here; cost, filling in a backlist, finding different authors and so on.

    Incidentally, I continue with my epublisher because my particular brand of writing is outside the publishing mainstream. My trade paperbacks sell okay, but I’m finding it’s the eBooks (through Kindle) that are doing quite well.

  66. BooksOnBoard
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 14:53:18

    We are glad that so many readers recognize the significant advantages of eBooks. The eBook market is growing rapidly, and more new releases are being released immediately as eBooks.

    Yesterday, Stephenie Meyer’s publisher advised the eBook industry that the eBook release of Breaking Dawn, her much-anticipated latest novel in the Twilight series, will be delayed a day until August 3rd. The hard copy release will still go forward August 2nd. This lag in release time has to do with concerns about eBooks getting to eBook customers in certain time zones before the hard copy book is available.

    We have been heavily promoting the Breaking Dawn eBook (we're even giving away a free Cybook ebook reader!). We will continue with this promotion. As a champion of eBook readers, we’re not happy about this delay in release time, but we’ll make the best of it for our customers.

    We're interested in hearing what eBook readers have to say – what do you think about eBooks being released after paperbooks? How can we get publishers to acknowledge that eBook readers are a significant (and growing) segment of the reading public?

  67. freecia
    Jul 31, 2008 @ 18:25:47

    As BooksOnBoard alluded to, I love being able to browse the new releases late Tuesday nights or early Wed. mornings, far far before I’d be able to make it into a bookstore. I can grab the sample chapter before I go to bed at 1am and read a bit, then sleep on the sample to see if I want to buy the book.

    In this way, I’ve purchased books I decided were worthy “keepers” which is nicely balanced by my weekend impulse purchases. I try to curb that by heading to the library for the impulse reads. Forget checking out the new books at the library. I have to put it on hold and wait more than a month at times.

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