Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Share your thoughts on ereader hardware, software, and purchasing

Sarah Wendell and I were invited to give a presentation this week at Tools of Change on the end user experience of ereaders. We want to share your thoughts so please leave a comment on what you think of ereader hardware, software, and the purchasing environment. What you like. What you don’t like. What you want changed. What you want to stay the same.

We anticipate that there may be some publishing representatives as well as programmers and developers of ereader gear.

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. Jennifer
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 10:11:54

    I’m new to the EReader scene but have quickly become addicted as I find I’m able to read much more quickly and love being able to get books at the tap of a button. I love being able to order a book for my Nook and have it in-hand in under a minute. Love that I can go to a different vendor and 90% of the time, not be able to tell the difference between a book I bought through the “official” store and one from Elora’s Cave. Hate it when the book arrives in PDF format and the formatting is all wonky with page breaks in the middle of a paragraph, bad formatting, odd hyphenation and small font. I’ve bought about 50 books on my reader and it’s happened for 4 of them. Not a bad batting average but I almost want to buy a paper copy of those 4 books so I can re-read them without the interruptions caused by wonky formatting.

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  3. Joy
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 10:56:54

    @Jennifer: it’s not the PDF formatting itself that is the problem with the small font/hyphenation/dehyphenation issues, it’s the reflow. PDFs are just horrible formats for ebooks unless you read them on a fullsize screen (open them in ADE, they look fine, for example).

    So it’s a software issue–smarter PDF reflow please! Or do an e-book PDF that is formatted for a 6″ screen!

  4. Carolyn Jewel
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 10:59:20

    I have bought 2 eReaders, both as gifts, both Kindles. One was for my 83 year old mother so the main criteria for the purchase was that the device be dead easy to use– including the purchase of books. I did quite a lot of research before my purchase decision and it was very quickly clear that the Kindle was the ONLY device that satisfied the “easy” condition. The device with the most complaints about ease of purchase: Sony.

    I, personally, read books on my iPhone and iPad, using either the Kindle App or Stanza. The iBookstore is, I’m sorry to say, pretty much a joke. Did no one over there talk to actual readers? Apple’s recent decision about requiring in App purchasing scares me and I’m thinking of buying a Kindle for myself in case Apple has just killed Amazon’s ease of purchase or worse.

    As a reader of eBooks, my experience so far is that formatting issues are slowly improving but need to improve more. I have NEVER successfully made a purchase from the eHarlequin site even though I have really, really wanted to. I’m not the only person with this problem, I tweeted about it once and got number of “me too” responses. My emails to Harlequin about their website failures have never been answered. So, alas, I never buy from them. I get them from Amazon instead, whose website does work, but I don’t think all the titles I’ve wanted have been available.

    Price is another HUGE issue. I have elected not to purchase some eBooks because the price is the same or more than the paper copy. I don’t care to be ripped off and the current pricing scheme for many eBooks is, pure and simple, a rip off. No thank you.

    Another issue is backups. When I bought my iPhone 4 and restored my data from my previous iPhone, ALL my eBooks vanished. In the Kindle app, I’ve been able to re-download some, but does that count against the threshold for when the book becomes unavailable to me? It shouldn’t. In Stanza, unfortunately, every single book I had in that app is just gone and I had dozens and dozens. I want purchase and data preservation.

    As an author, I get a truly distressing number of emails from readers outside the US who can’t get an eBook version even though it’s supposed to be available.

    I cannot stress this enough: If an English language reader located outside the US wants to read a book in English, publishers should be falling all over themselves to make that possible, easily and at a price comparable to what US readers pay.

  5. becca
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 11:15:40

    1) no drm.
    2) no geographical restrictions
    3) a universal format would be nice. Failing that, a universal reader (reading both epub and mobi)
    4) better copy editing of eformat books. Often times, the free books from Project Gutenberg are better formatted than so-called “professional” books that I paid for.
    5) more realistic pricing. An ebook shouldn’t cost as much as – or in some cases more than – a printed book.

  6. Jane Davitt
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 11:48:20

    I’m in Canada so I opted for a Kobo for Christmas after dropping many hints. I wanted to put some of my favorite fanfics on there and was pointed at Calibre as a good way to make that easy. It comes with 100 classics on it and I’ve added a load from Gutenburg (lots of 1905 vintage Wodehouse school stories and a stack of E Nesbits went on it today).

    When it comes to buying, I discovered that Chapters/Indigo have a much smaller selection of e-books than Amazon. I experimented and bought a Kindle e-book just to see if I could do anything with it. Amazon let you read it on your computer even if you don’t own a Kindle, but I wanted to read it on my Kobo, so I googled a fix, added the plug-in to Calibre, and now I can buy a Kindle e-book and read it on my Kobo, so I’m happy with the expansion of what’s out there for me.

    I’ve also successfully borrowed an e-book from my local library for the usual three weeks.

    I wish e-books were a little cheaper and I still have this vague feeling that unless I own a book actually on paper, I don’t have it, but I adore my Kobo and its Tardis-like ability to hold entire shelves within it.

  7. RachelT
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 11:48:59

    What she said – on every count!

    I am a very experienced e-reader. I have a Sony prs505 (my favourite), a kindle and an iphone and I do read on all three (less so the kindle because I can’t make it skip around the book as easily as I can my Sony). Calibre is wonderful and enables me to move my books around my different readers.

    However, I now feel I have been criminalised – not a pleasant feeling. Because of drm and geographical restrictions I have resorted to underhand methods to purchase and read books. I ‘fix’ my address in e-bookstores (but now have problems between two Amazon accounts because of it) and I strip the drm (for my own use only). However, everytime I want to encourage a friend to try and read electronically, I am so aware of how complicated a process it is, and it takes great commitment as well as cash to go down this road.

    I now buy most of my books from small, independent publishers such as Dreamspinner, Loose Id, Smashwords, author websites, or through sellers like Allromance E-books. I haven’t bought a book from one of the agency publishers since their war.

    None of this sounds like good business to me, let alone good customer relations!

  8. Perry
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 11:53:23

    I read on one of two devices. I like my iPod Touch because it is vendor neutral and I like my Kobo reader because it has a long battery.

    I think the big ‘want’ for me is to have the geographic restrictions removed. I won’t do as others have and pirate books because I can’t buy them legally, but I think if a book is available as an ebook in Canada, I should be able to buy from rather than from Kobo.

  9. Deborah
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 11:53:30

    My main complaint is that I want to buy an ebook, not a “license agreement” to read a book on the seller’s proprietary or stipulated devices/software. This means no DRM. And no cloud–I don’t want to have to use a password and connect to the internet to read a book I’ve purchased.

    I’d like to see ebooks released at the same time as print–no windowing–and be available globally.

    A standardized format would be great.

    Ebook prices should reflect the lower production and distribution costs over print version.

  10. GrowlyCub
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 11:53:44

    I love my Sony 505 (although I wish it were faster, because now that it’s full of books it’s a bit sluggish to start up). I love that nobody can remotely delete books off of it and I happily trade the instant buy gratification for no sticky-fingered retailers deleting my purchased content remotely.

    Things I want:

    – e-ink

    – no DRM

    – no geo-restrictions

    – files that I can manipulate (i.e. increase/change fonts besides what device allows); I personally would prefer .rtf and devices that can read those files

    – reasonable prices (my e-buying has significantly dropped off since Agency 5 came into existence, which btw, doesn’t mean I read less on my 505, just that I search out freebies and reasonably priced books from other venues such as Smashwords)

    – absolutely no more than $1 per 10k for shorter works (preferably less) and no more than $5-6 for 90k+ novels (after all I get fewer rights and less value, so I’m not prepared to pay more than I do for print copies which I purchase new only with coupons for between $5-6)

    – an understanding and appreciation that retailers are not their main customers in the e-market, but that readers are

    – and last but not least a wish for the future:

    a device and corresponding book files that will allow me to read on e-ink or listen to audio output in situations when reading is not possible

  11. Jennifer (An Abundance of Books)
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 12:25:58

    I own a Kindle 2, am a huge e-book reader (almost 300), and because I spend most of my time outside of the US e-books are the way I can consistently and conveniently keep up with my reading. I love Kindle’s ease of use and the ease of purchase and variety at Amazon is awesome. I occasionally purchase e-books from other companies but as Carolyn pointed out, not all sellers are able to keep up with demand/technology like Amazon has. While I love the e-ink reader the best, I can read e-books on some of my apple devices or my desktop, which is nice. I don’t like feeling so dependent on Amazon for product.

    What I see as a big hurdle for publishers is that people don’t really feel that they have an actual product in their hand with an e-book and therefore feel it should be cheaper. While I understand that authors/editors/agents still work just as hard to create a book, the burden is on the publishers to convince/make it clear to the public that an e-book can’t be practically free. That being said, I disliked Amazon’s tussle with publishers last year that resulted in some of my Kindle pre-orders vanishing. I’m a big girl, I can decide if the price is right or not. I certainly compare prices when it comes to purchasing a physical or digital book. E-books are definitely going to change how books are sold as well as affect pricing for the whole market.

  12. Karenmc
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 12:43:58

    What Carolyn Jewel said.

    I read on my Touch and iPad, so that means my books are scattered over different apps eReader, Kindle, Nook, Stanza, Kobo, Bluefire). The neutrality of the iThing is a big plus, but sometimes I have to search my libraries because I KNOW that ebook is in ONE of them.

    I tend to buy from Barnes & Noble over Amazon, and iBook doesn’t interest me at all. I used to buy and buy from Fictionwise before the Agency pricing debacle.

  13. helen
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 12:47:38

    I love, my Nook I love that I can be in bed at midnight or at the airport finishing up a book and buy the next book in the series right then. I love that I can lend and borrow from friends and from the library.

    I would change Geo restrictions, drm and make sure there was some kind of universal formatting (as most everyone else on here has mentioned).

    Also, I would make more bundles at lower prices available particularly for authors who have an extensive backlist that stretches back years (for example Deanna Raybourne's series is a great one that I managed to get bundled for only 9.99-more like this please!)
    I don't want to pay full price for a book I have owned in PB format for 10 years, yet I'd like to stock my Nook with my favorite books. For example if they had an option to buy all of the back titles of the In Death series all at once for 100 to 200 bucks I'd do it, but I am not paying 7 dollars each!

    AND my biggest want…How about renting??? There are few authors whose books withstand the test of time for me, I’d love to be able to rent a book for a week or two, read it and have it disappear. I’d be willing to pay on a fee basis or per book basis for books i usually would not pay full price for, just to rent them and see what they are like. If the author ends up on my must have list, I can guarantee I’ll buy every one by that author.

  14. Estara
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 12:57:22

    My biggest beef: I want to be able to buy books in the language I want from wherever I am – and not jump through the hoop of geographic restrictions.

    Also, DRM sucks. The dedicated pirates aren’t bothered by it and when I want to add a cover to my ebook (what’s up with selling ebooks without covers as the first image?) I need to jump through some more hoops until I can get Calibre to add a cover (and a summary at the front) as well as raise the basic fontsize to something my dodgy eyes can live with (I know I can raise the font on the reader, but it eats energy).

    Have the layout of an ebook be vetted as carefully as a printed book – no extra spelling mistakes for us, or words running into each other and whatever else.

  15. Lori
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 12:58:02

    I had a Sony and gave it away to my SIL because the formatting was driving me wonky. Now I have a Kindle and it’s the difference between night and day.

    Please though, no drm. I’m not smart enough to figure out how to strip it so all the books I bought for my Sony are sitting in Calibre unread. I want to read them.

    Pricing also. I passed up a book I really wanted to read at a $12.99 price. that’s just absurdity to me.

  16. Kristen
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 12:59:39

    What Becca and Deborah said. :)

    Add to that, I find it especially insulting when the ebook edition is the same price as the paperback edition, yet I’m expected to wait a week or two for the ebook to be released.

    Then there is the issue of coupons. Before, booksellers would say that coupons were not applicable for ebooks because the customer was already getting a discount. But if the publisher offers an ebook and paper book at the same price, then why can’t we use coupons to purchase an ebook?

    Such tactics make me feel like I’m being penalized for purchasing an ebook. Which doesn’t make any sense from a customer relations standpoint.

  17. JenM
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 13:02:39

    I own a Kindle so my primary purchases are through Amazon, although I do also have an iPHone and have the Kindle, Kobo and B&N readers on it. For ease of purchase and ease of use, Amazon beats everybody hands down and they are far more customer focused then any of the other companies. I’ve yet to hear of a single horror story regarding Amazon CS and every time I’ve dealt with them they’ve been helpful and efficient. Add to that the fact that Amazon has far more ebooks available than any of the others (not counting free, public domain books) and you’d have a hard time convincing me to switch from my Kindle.

    Regarding ebooks in general, DRM drives me crazy, but since the publishers seem determined to ape the failed model and death throes of the music industry, I don’t see that situation resolving itself anytime soon. It’s really sad since the mark of intelligence is to learn from other’s mistakes. Obviously then, we are forced to conclude that there is no intelligence whatsoever within the Agency 5 publishing companies. Since they’ve forced the Agency pricing model on us, I’ve gone from buying 25+ ebooks/mo from them to buying one or two. They’ve forced me to seek out other avenues to satisfy my book habit and I must say that I don’t really feel the lack. Sure, there are many books they publish that I’d love to read, but there are so many alternatives out there that I’m easily able to find substitutes to satisfy me.

    Regarding the hardware, for many people, myself included, ebooks have been absolutely wonderful in a physical sense. I have repetitive stress injuries in both of my hands and I find it quite uncomfortable to hold physical books for any length of time. Hardcovers are too heavy, and paperbacks are hard for me to hold open. Ebooks have totally solved this problem for me and many others. Yet the large publishers treat us like dirt beneath their feet for choosing ebooks over physical books. This insults and annoys me and makes me even less likely to want to buy any of their product.

  18. Kristi
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 13:19:23

    I have a Sony and I’m generally happy with it. No, it doesn’t have an Easy button. I do wish it were more streamlined and speedier (ok, so my laptop’s old, but we’re not talking about computation-heavy processing here folks), My device decision wasn’t based on ease of purchase of books.

    For wonky formatting, I run books through Calibre. It does a nice job of fixing flow problems and making them read nice. That’s especially important as I tend to up my fontsize so some ebooks that look great at the default font give me a paragraph-break at the end of every text line.

    I don’t quite get how the ebooks are stored on the file system (and I’m in software…you’d think the layout would be intuitively obvious to me, but every frigging app does something differently stupid with their files), which makes it annoying to manually move things around between 3 computers, smart phone, and Sony reader and I would like to know exactly which files to zip up and move over where to be able to sync things up. Nope, can’t install calibre on every device and not going to trust any cloud-type arrangements (I’m looking at *you* Google and Amazon).

    Also, I wish more devices offered a stylus for marking up books (mine does, and it was a huge selling feature). There’s a lot you can do with a keyboard, but more that is possible with free-form doodling. Like having authors sign books and taking notes. I doubt higher education will fully embrace e-books for textbooks until the students have an option for a 8.5×11 page size AND note-taking/highlighting abilities built into the devices.

  19. Brian
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 13:33:09

    I’ve been digital only (for fiction purchases) since October 2007 and for the most part have no regrets.

    As others have stated Geo Restrictions and DRM both suck and it would be nice if we could do away with them. Right now publishers want DRM to prevent casual sharing (they know it doesn’t work against piracy) and retailers want it to maintain device lock-in. Hopefully we’ll get to a place where it can be eliminated soon.

    I don’t have as huge an issue with pricing as some, but I absolutely will not pay more for a digital book than the pbook costs. IMO eBooks with a mass market equivalent should cost about 25% ($2) less than their print counterpart. As to things out in print as hardcovers it’s tougher. Since the physical book is wholesaled ‘old style’ it’s ‘street price’ is often less or within a buck of the eBooks price even though it’s list price is a lot more. This makes it tough to go ahead an fork out for digital. Yes, I can wait for it to hit mass market status, but I may have forgotten about it all together by then. I’ve even run across some titles where I can buy the audiobook cheaper than the ebook which makes no sense to me. Since Agency pricing my purchasing of titles from those publishers has decreased about 50%.

    Errors, Ahhhhhhhh. Lately errors have become a big problem for me. Of three experiences only one has been taken care of satisfactorily by the publisher or retailer. The first was a purchase of six harlequin titles from Kobo. I emailed both Kobo and Hqn pointing out the errors months ago. Hqn has said that they’ve sent Kobo new files twice (the titles are fine at other stores), but they still aren’t fixed and Kobo is still selling them. After two months I also got their VP in charge of content, Michael Tamblyn, involved and still nothing has been done. The second was also a problem through Kobo with a Samhain title. I emailed both Kobo and Lindsey Faber at Samhain in November and have gotten no response from either. The third was a title from Avon that I bought through Amazon (Hungry for You by Lynsay Sands, same cost in paper and digital). This book had enough errors in it to fill eleven pages in Word! (Checking samples other places showed the same errors Amazon had). Also this was a first run title, not some backlist title with OCR screw-ups (not that there’s any excuse for those either). I emailed the author, Harper Collins CS and Erika Tsang (Avon Exec Editor) and although it took two months that book was fixed. I’m unsure it would have been had I not been able to find Ms. Tsang’s email address though. Of course I’ve been offered a refund on all the titles from Kobo, but since I bought them with a coupon I’m not that worried about the money. I’m more worried about the fact that they seem to be unable to fix something after five months of communications AND the fact that they’re still offering the books for sale with the errors.

    I think it’s great that more and more public libraries are offering eBooks. It’s too bad that Amazon/Overdrive haven’t worked something out to make them easily accessible to Kindle users, but as Amazon is in business to sell books I’m not surprised. It’s also to bad some pubs (like Macmillan and S&S) refuse to allow their books to be a part of the library programs. Something like Netflix for books could be great if done right.

    Hardware wise I currently use a Kindle 3 and when I’m out and about a Samsung Epic 4G. I also own or have owned and used various PDA’s and Smarrtphones, a Sony 505, a Kindle 2 and a Cybook Opus. All in all I’ve never had an issue although eInk and larger than PDA screens has been great for me, before that I didn’t read eBooks very much at all. When it comes to ease of use, selection, customer service & overall experience Amazon wins hands down for me. The Kindle “Just Works” and even my mother, who only has very basic computer skills, has no problems using hers (reading, buying books, receiving gift books, etc.).

  20. SAO
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 13:53:57

    I’ve used Adobe on my computer and Kindle and iBooks on my iPad.

    In both cases, I find page flipping to be a pain. Some of the books in Adobe have poor page turning. I have to put the pointer on the exact tiny spot.

    I’m okay with DRM, but hate, hate, hate geographic restrictions. I move a lot internationally and am worried that a book I bought will suddenly become out of region. I have many DVDs region encoded to a region where I no longer live.

    In every country I’ve lived, there’s been a huge number of locals who want to practice their English, hungry for English language books. Most of them have turned to piracy, as the culture is not as disapproving of piracy and the difficulties of obtaining legal e-books high.

    I don’t want to read in the cloud, either. My internet connection isn’t that reliable.

    The reason I haven’t bought a dedicated e-reader for myself and my daughter and son is sharing. I don’t want to buy 3 copies of Harry Potter at 10$ each, nor do I want to be stuck lending out my reader (and entire library) for the time it takes for my son to slog through a book.

    I’m pretty sure I could figure out how to evade the DRM and make an illegal copy, but I don’t want to do all that work. If I’m paying full price, I want to be able to share. I wouldn’t mind paying 2$ to share a book, if the book cost, say 3$.

    I’m all for renting, book clubs, or other ways to make e-reading a suitable replacement for my used bookstore spending, borrowing from friends and libraries. A monthly fee for all you can read? A few bucks per book and a week or two to read it?

  21. Steph
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 15:55:19

    I just bought my Kindle a couple of months ago and it’s like walking around with a bookstore in my purse. Financially maybe a little dangerous but other wise… I’m in heaven.

    Only DEATH will separate me from my Kindle.

  22. Andrea K Host
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 16:21:45

    DRM and Geographical Restrictions are the big issues for me. I thoroughly dislike the idea of ‘leasing’ a book rather than buying it, and I like even less being told I can’t buy the book because I live in Australia.

    Price comes in third – I won’t buy an ebook if it’s significantly more expensive than having a hard copy shipped to me from The Book Depository.

    I really like Smashwords approach (no DRM, no geographical restrictions, multiple formats available). Most of my purchases have come from there so far.

    [Was also extremely pleased to receive the entire Vorkosigan series on a cd in the back of my copy of Cryoburn.]

  23. Andrea K Host
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 16:24:36

    DRM and Geographical Restrictions are the big issues for me. I thoroughly dislike the idea of ‘leasing’ a book rather than buying it, and I like even less being told I can’t buy the book because I live in Australia.

    Price comes in third – I won’t buy an ebook if it’s significantly more expensive than having a hard copy shipped to me from The Book Depository.

    I really like Smashwords’ approach (no DRM, no geographical restrictions, multiple formats available). Most of my purchases have come from there so far.

    [Was also extremely pleased to receive the entire Vorkosigan series on a cd in the back of my copy of Cryoburn.]

  24. Barb
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 16:33:21

    I haven’t bought a dedicated e-reader because of the unnecessary limitations publishers are putting on e-books.

    Just let people buy books. Period.

    Play nice with libraries. Library users buy lots of books.

    Let me share all my books with family and friends. This is another way I discover new authors. And then I buy their books in the future.

    Ditto to what everyone said re standard format, DRM, and geographic restrictions. It frustrates people and forces them to resort to piracy. And does nothing to stop actual pirates.

  25. Keishon
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 16:58:36

    What I don’t care for:

    1) DRM
    2) Geo restrictions (!)
    3) NO COVERS (!)
    4) formatting errors (no indentations, etc)
    5) agency pricing (pricing digital higher than paper is ridiculous
    6) Unavailability of a complete series or authors backlist

    That’s off the top.

  26. Sunita
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 17:37:06

    More of the same from me:

    No DRM
    No geo restrictions
    Proper formatting and editing
    The more ebook acquisition resembles a licensing deal, the bigger the price break
    No cloud-only access.

  27. Jane Davitt
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 17:45:37

    Forgot to mention that I would give anything for the first waterproof e-reader. I have to keep a ‘real’ book on hand for the bath and that’s frustrating if I’m at an exciting part.

  28. orannia
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 17:46:47

    I find it fascinating (but not suprising :) that the same issues keep cropping up, particularly geographical restrictions and DRM (although I’m still not sure I know what DRMs are exactly).

    Add me as another who finds geographical restrictions incredibly annoying. My friend explained the lengths she went to to purchase a legitimate eBook (Archangel’s Consort) by an author who lives in the same city as she does – my head hurt at the end it was so convoluted. Just publish eBooks in all English-speaking countries and at the same time! (The UK/NZ/Australia release was a couple of weeks behind the US release IIRC. Why the delay?)

    And then there is format. If the multiple formats are here to stay (although a universal one would be preferable) then for goodness sake release a book in all the main formats! I went hunting for a book the other day, which I won in PDF format, but which I couldn’t read because converting it to ePub format using Calibre resulted in massively wonky formatting, which drives me batty. (And the RSI in my wrists won’t allow for endless formatting changes to ‘fix’ the problem.) It wasn’t available in ePub, so I queried the publisher who explained they just don’t release eBooks in ePub. Hmmm. (Mobipocket does convert in Calibre, but not perfectly). The book was available in Mobipocket so I went to purchase it only to see the price tag – US$12.99 – so no sale :(

    Which leads me to formatting in general. I just finished reading an eBook (in ePub format) with hard returns in weird places. *shakes head* Does not instill me with confidence. Please publishers fix the formatting. If you are pricing the book the same as a print copy then do I not deserve clean formatting?

    *gets off soapbox* Thank you Jane and Sarah!

    When I bought my iPhone 4 and restored my data from my previous iPhone, ALL my eBooks vanished.

    The same thing happened to me when I had to replace my iPhone 3GS (under warranty) over Christmas. Very annoying. I had to replace the books manually…and kept crashing Stanza! I still don’t have all the books back on.

  29. GrowlyCub
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 19:55:11

    @Jane Davitt: Jane,

    ziploc bags work beautifully; I use a sandwich sized one for my Sony 505; keeps it safe from sprinkles and I am careful not to immerse it, but have been told by others that if you get the good bags, even that is safe.

    I took mine to the beach in its bag, and reading through the clear plastic was no issue at all.

  30. Roob
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 20:05:16

    What they all said.

    1. Geographical Restriction – I bought me a Sony Reader rather than kindle because of this. Now, I have to jump through hoops and underhanded means to legally buy the books. And then strip the DRM because, hey, I don’t want to be caught unawares if (when) they deny access to my books.

    2. DRM – Nothing more to say. Please get rid of it.

    3. Formatting – Project Gutenberg formatting rocks. Others, not so much. I had to redo most formatting for some of the books using calibre. Time I could have spent reading the books.

    4. Price – I will not pay a cent more for ebooks than the price of Paperback. You’re just losing sales.

    Even though my libary has ebooks, it does not have the books I want because of the geographical restriction. I am not able to utilize this feature as much as I would like to.

  31. Jane A
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 20:14:29

    No DRM – though it’s not like I haven’t figured out how to strip it in just about every format. And now I’ve got each book I own safely saved on a couple of flash drives. I’ll be darned if I am going to lose my library!
    No Agency 5 pricing – I hate this scheme and my ebook buying from those publishers has dropped off considerably. Sadly, I understand that the Agency 5 pricing has not diminished their bottom line so I guess my personal boycott has not had a significant effect.
    Finally – I love the Smashwords model. Low prices and no DRM. I buy quite a bit from them, they have the right idea.

  32. KB Alan
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 20:39:29

    DRM is the thing that most often keeps me from purchasing an ebook.

  33. Jane Davitt
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 20:58:10


    Oh, what a great idea; thank you!

  34. becca
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 21:06:19

    Price is the thing that most often keeps me from purchasing a book (being in the USA, I don’t often have to worry about geographical restrictions). I won’t pay more for an ebook than I will for MM paperback, and it’s the rare book that I’ll buy when it’s priced the same as MM. If you’re going to sell me crippled files with poor formatting, don’t make me pay premium prices for it!

  35. Vi
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 21:37:19

    1) Pricing- I want to through money at the publishing houses to get the backlist list of beloved authors like Lisa Kleypas, Loretta Chase and Nora Roberts. However, I refuse to pay $7.99 for an ebook that I already own in pb. Most of those paperbacks were bought with some sort of discount too or bought used.
    2) Geographical restrictions- I’m fortunate to live in the USA. I’m disappointed that my online friends and fellow passionate booklovers can’t buy an ebook as easily as I can.

  36. Tabitha
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 21:58:12

    My $0.02 is nothing new from what others have said but I want to add my thoughts anyway.

    REMOVE DRM – if Amazon crash its backup server/storage/or whatever you call it *KNOCK ON WOOD* or decide to remove my books for whatever reason they deem appropriate I’m going to cry because I don’t know how to strip the books and have my own backup copy.

    UNIVERSAL Formatting – I purchase my ebooks mostly from Amazon with few exceptions but even the books purchased from Amazon have wonky formatting (paragraph return, split words, etc) that have tempt me to stop reading because it is insane to follow.

    CHEAPER Pricing – it is ridiculous to have an e-book copy cost more than a print copy. I can’t justify spending $9-10+ on a book that I can’t share with others. Also, why are there no sales or coupons to be used with ebook purchases? I used to love Amazon B3G1F or Borders B4G1F on their print sales but I rarely purchase prints anymore. Why are there no such sales or coupons for ebook purchases?

    COVER IMAGE – The reason I stuck it out with paper books for so long was because I like the feel of holding a book. Also, some of the covers are so pretty. But with ebooks I’m lucky if there’s a cover with an image. It is not too much to ask for to have the same cover image from the paperback be on the ebook.

    BOOK BUNDLE – I would love to have ebook versions of my favorite books but some authors have a really extensive backlist and I would go broke paying full price again for each book. Having a book bundle would be awesome for new and old authors who have a backlist. (i.e. Karen Rose, Linda Howard, Julie Garwood, J.D. Robb/NR, Judith McNaught, et al)

    I have a few more complaints but these are the major ones. Thanks for asking for our input!

  37. Kerry D.
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 22:08:16

    What I’d going to say is really just “ditto” to what everyone else has already said, but if the number of comments add weight, then here’s another one.

    No DRM.
    No geographical restrictions.
    Sensible prices.
    Universal format.
    If no the the above, then permission to format shift as required.

  38. sarah mayberry
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 22:17:28

    I think I am a pretty unsophisticated user as I am still just getting over the afterglow of owning my first ereader. For what it’s worth:
    *The instant gratification of buying a book on line is great. Getting books from a series one after another without having to wait is great.

    *Geographic restrictions are not great. In Australia we are offered a tiny percentage of the books the US have access to. It’s deeply frustrating and publishers need to work this shit out because the internet is here to stay. eharlequin has been the biggest beneficiary of my ebook purchases because I can buy all their books, no worries. Would love to buy more, publishers, but you won’t let me.

    *The PDF issue sucks. It does throw you out of the book. It would be nice to have that smoothed out.

  39. MikiS
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 01:32:10

    Everyone else has hit my dislikes, for the most part. DRM, “renting” vs. purchasing, being made to feel like a criminal when I want to share my books with the same friend I share my print books with, Agency 5 price-fixing…

    I have a Sony PRS650 (and have had most of the previous versions, too) – my one remaining wish for it is related to the font. I’d love to be able to choose a new font and I’d like smaller increments between the font sizes (like my old Cybook).

    In terms of likes – I love being able to carry a large selection of books in my purse so I can choose what I want to read “on the fly”.

    I love the ability to change font sizes (even if I’m not entirely happy with the size choices). I hit the big 5-0 this year, and I’ve definitely seen a gradual increase in my “ideal” font size (went from 10 points to 16 points in my Sony!)

    I love the instant gratification of being able to buy ebooks at midnight on their release date without having to get out of my jammies and slippers.

    I like being able to read the cheesiest romance without having to worry about who sees the cover!

    I like not having to decide which books to throw away, give away or sell, because I have no room left to store them.

  40. Karina
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 02:42:07

    The one thing I dislike the most is geo restrictions. The funny thing is while amazon won’t let me buy an ebook version it is quite happy to ship the paper copy to me in Australia. What’s the difference??

  41. L
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 04:22:16

    I apologise for sounding like a broken record but it is pretty much the same for me. I was an early adopter and have been reading ebooks for many years, first on my computer then through various PDA’s and phones and now through e-reader apps.

    Start rant!
    Geo restrictions absolutely curdles my blood. There in NOTHING more frustrating than wanting to buy an ebook and not being able to because I live in OZ. What frustrates me the most is that there must be a simple solution. Surely you can see where the payment comes from and channel the payment accordingly. Drives me absolutely batshit crazy! I cannot understand why I can buy the paper copy – cutting down trees and contributing to global warming through the big jet plane flying it out to me – but not be allowed to buy the ebook. I know it has to do with author rights, and I want them to get their money so they keep writing me beautiful stories, but there has to be an easier way. I buy heaps of books, but I tell you I would buy even more if it was easier to do.

    Major rant over – on with the mini rant.

    A standard or universal format would be good but I can manage a few formats so that doesn’t bug me too much. But I want to own the ebook rather than a licence. That needs a bit of work and in the end I don’t buy those books that I can’t guarantee that I own. Price is last. No way will I pay more than the hard copy, I just don’t buy it. But if the price is right I often I buy a hard copy as well as the ebook if it is a keeper.

  42. Edie
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 04:38:46

    DRM is ugly and useless, but I could live with it, if I could access the bloomin books. (And wasn’t locked into one reader – as long as it can be read on my bebook I’d be happy)
    Geo Restrictions are the killer for me, as an Aussie, I am pretty much locked out of buying my preferred genre books in ebook form.

    Though I will say this has helped me cull my mainstream pub buying – and has opened a whole new world of indie/epub publishers to me. Love their work. With their nice priced books (mostly), wide variety, no DRM and no geo restrictions. WIN

  43. Helly
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 07:11:22

    I live in Sweden and for the longest time I was reading e-books on my laptop using a whole heap of different reader software. I started doing it, because ordering a paperback from a Swedish webstore took almost two weeks and made it twice as expensive.
    The only software I have had a problem with is Sony e-reader, a book a bought from the ereader store was not formatted properly – all quotation marks gone. The support from Sony was abysmal and I still have not read the book (Beauty and the Spy by my current fave Julie Anne Long), it just wasn’t possible, you could never know who was saying what and when they stopped talking. In November I bought a Kobo with wireless. I love it. I have managed (using python code) to remove the drm and convert all my Fictionwise purchases into epub and import them into the Kobo. However, it was really tricky and I don’t think I should have to do that with a book that I have legally bought and paid for. DRM sucks and doesn’t stop anyone from doing what the want to, given the incentive.
    A problem I have discovered is that I suddenly have both the Kobo web store and the Borders Kobo web application on my laptop and before, when I was asked to sync, books that were added in one place were removed when syncing with the other. So now I only use Adobe Digital Editions to sync and manage my library, simply because virtually all the books I buy (from either Kobo or Borders) are DRM’d and ADE makes it easier to add them. If that were not the case, I would probably use Calibre e-book management tool, which is excellent for converting books to various formats (provided they are not DRM’d, of course).
    Finally I wholeheartedly agree with @Carolyn Jewel – publishers should make it easier for those of us who prefer to read a book in the original language to buy e-books. I am lucky that I also have an American credit card, my Swedish card gets rejected because of geographical restrictions and it is sooo annoying.
    Happy e-reading everyone!

  44. Sarah Frantz
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 07:12:56

    I haven’t read what other people have said, but I refused to CONSIDER a book that has any sort of DRM on it. I just won’t. I don’t know how to strip it and I’m not interested in learning, so I just won’t buy a book with it on. Ever.

    Other than that, please put the cover on ebooks, all formats.

  45. Angie
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 08:08:12

    Get rid of DRM. It’s never stopped a single pirate and punishes only the honest customers who’ve handed the publisher money. [I’m with Sarah — I won’t buy a DRMed e-book, period, ever. We’re not the only ones, either.]

    Standardize formatting. It’s ridiculous that two of the major devices have their own proprietary formats, with a couple of extras tossed into the pot just for fun. The device manufacturers, publishers and vendors need to get together, pick one, and stick with it, so readers can always read any e-book without having to either download half a dozen different reading apps or put their e-book files through conversion utilities. Make it as easy as possible for all the customers to use your products and we’ll buy more of them.


  46. Diane V
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 08:30:30

    I refuse to buy an ereader until the price of ebooks are cheaper than buying a physical book. Totally ridiculous that I can buy a paperback version of a book for 40% off at Borders but for the same ebook I would spend full price — a total WTF for me.

    I had 2 friends who were going to buy me the Kindle 3G for a Christmas/Birthday present who I told them not to waste the money since I wouldn’t be buying any books for it.

  47. MelM
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 09:49:40

    Agency pricing. I could even tolerate the base price of the ebooks being so high if they’d return limited time sales,coupons, and membership discounts. Return the thrill of the hunt.

  48. eva
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 10:02:42

    The things that bother me the most regarding ebooks are
    1. DRM
    2. Geo restrictions – if I can buy the same book in print from Amazon or The Book Depository why can’t I get it as an ebook?
    3. Those annoying 3G fees Amazon chargers for kindle books. As a kindle user I have to say that even though it’s sometimes convenient to buy a book directly from my kindle device most of the time I’d rather have to use the computer and a usb cable like with books bought elsewhere.
    4. Poor formatting and editing (for some reason I find that there are more errors in ebooks then in print editions)
    5. Ridiculously high prices considering the books have DRM and are not actually mine since I cannot legally lend them to a friend, re-sell them etc. Paying upwards of $15 for something that’s I don’t own but only have the right to read is just wrong.

  49. Liz Fichera
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 10:46:16

    Since getting my nook last June as a birthday present, I’m reading and buying books more than before. I love the ease of downloading from book sites as well as from my local library. I don’t like .pdf files and avoid them, preferring e-pub files. My nook fits inside my purse and goes with me everywhere. LOVE IT!

  50. Tamara Hogan
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 10:58:35

    I appreciate the opportunity that Jane and Sarah will have to inject some real-world reader concerns into the discussion. I have to admit that while lurking in on the #toccon hash yesterday, a couple of attendees and I started playing Buzzword Bingo.

  51. Steph
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 11:03:33

    Feelings about my Kindle?

    Death, and death alone, will ever separate me from it.

  52. Tori [Book Faery]
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 19:37:15

    1) Pricing- I refuse to buy an ebook that costs just as much or more than a print book. In fact, I usually refuse to buy any books that are more than $4.99, because in my mind, I can’t justify spending that much on something I don’t *technically* own and can’t lend to friends.

    2) DRM- Not happening, I’m not wasting my money on a book with this garbage. I don’t know how to strip it, and I’ve got better things to do with my time–like reading DRM-free books!

    3) Like many others have said, I would love a universal format for ebooks instead of having a bunch of different ones which require me to download way too many apps.

  53. Teresa C
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 20:09:15

    Baen books for the win!!!
    [Was also extremely pleased to receive the entire Vorkosigan series on a cd in the back of my copy of Cryoburn.]

    That just tipped the balance for me. I was waiting for my library to get the audiobook of Cryoburn, but, if I get the entire series on CD, that makes it worth the price of a hardback.

  54. GrowlyCub
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 20:20:12

    @Teresa C:

    Only the first HC printing has the CD, so buying in a store is the only way to make sure you get the right edition.

  55. becca
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 20:51:37

    @52 Also, Memory was accidentally left off, but it’s cheap from Baen anyway.

  56. Bella F.
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 02:07:12

    I’m one of the people new to ereaders this year, but had used the kindle and nook apps on my macbook pro previously for freebie books and have to say I *hate* the nook requirement of re-entering the original credit card info you used just to re-download a book you bought! I also *hate* DRM.
    Anyway, I used a Christmas giftcard to buy myself the kindle from Target. I opted to buy there b/c I had the giftcard, wanted to make sure it would be easy to return if there was problem, and I could see condition of box or hear rattles immediately.
    What I want in ebooks:

    -Universal Format
    -Trustworthy Backup options tied to my account to redownload title if I’m upgrading my device or lost device completely
    -Fair prices: there’s no way I’m paying $10 or $20 for an ebook when I can get the physical book for that price or check it out at the library rather than wait for price to come down.
    -I also agree completely w/Sarah Frantz’ comment above,
    “I haven't read what other people have said, but I refused to CONSIDER a book that has any sort of DRM on it. I just won't. I don't know how to strip it and I'm not interested in learning, so I just won't buy a book with it on. Ever.

    Other than that, please put the cover on ebooks, all formats.”

  57. Bella F.
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 02:09:29

    @Sarah Frantz: I agree, and the covers are really important to me, even if in black and white on my ereader. I still like to see the cover!

  58. Liz
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 10:52:47

    I agree with many of the other complaints- price, DMR, geo restrictions, formatting, etc. My biggest complaint however is the lending/renting/lack of library access policies.

    The current lending policies are a joke, and are an insult to customers. And the refusal of certain publishers to participate in library lending is illogical and insulting; (maybe it’s just me, but what does this policy suggest other than that someone who borrows a book from a library is more likely to pirate it than someone who buys it from amazon?).

    I’d love to see some sort of rental program. I do love my library, but there are certain books they’re not going to get. As Helen mentioned above either a fee basis (my preference), or a per book basis, would allow readers to explore new authors, or just enjoy a book they didn’t want to buy and would otherwise not read at all.

    Publishers need to wake up. As the music industry found out repeatedly, DMR and other restrictions aren’t going to stop piracy, but restrictive, stupid policies are going to turn off consumers. These policies aren’t saving money or encouraging new buyers, but they are preventing the implementation of programs that could encourage new readers and offer new sources of revenue.

  59. LizJ
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 10:58:13

    I’m very, very happy with my PanDigital Novel, especially now that they have switched to more of an open Android framework. Not only do I have the stock B&N app working now, I also have Kindle (not to mention, lots of Android apps).

    Having said all that, I’d have to say that comparing Android to the iOS-based iPad is like comparing a circa 2000 desktop operating system to a circa 2011 one (Mac comes to mind). Android is still rough around the edges. File navigation, file installation, and shopping for apps sill eaves a lot to be desired on Android (I am pleased to see that PanDigital has tied in the Adobe Digital Editions files into the B&N app so that I can use the Digital Editions application on my desktop to move OverDrive library books and third-party ebook purchases to my Novel.

    If you want the best of all worlds as far as ebook purchase and lending options, having an Android or iOS device is the way to go, IMO.

  60. B. Sullivan
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 18:32:27

    I’ve been wanting to buy an ereader for the last one to two years, but most of the problems mentioned here are what’s holding me back. I want a device that won’t lock all my purchases into a single software such that I can’t ever upgrade to a different brand. I want to be able to backup my books so that if I break or lose the reader than everything isn’t gone forever. Both of those issues mean that DRM will most likely hinder me rather than help me.

    Currently I read books on my computer or my Android phone (using Gutenberg, Google books, Aldiko, Adobe Reader). I’m tech savy, I used to even teach computer software at university. But I keep researching ereaders and from the problems I still see and the pricing of the books, I can’t invest in it yet. And I’m someone who’s constantly buying shelves because I have that many physical books. I could actually use an ereader as it’d be more practical spacewise – but the industry seems to be making choices that keep me from buying one. I don’t mind if I lose a paperback I picked up to read just for fun – but if I lost a chunk of books on an ereader? And have no way of getting them back (or at least knowing what titles were lost) – well, that just doesn’t seem like a good investment.

  61. B. Sullivan
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 18:40:02

    I forgot to add – that’s really what I’d like the publishing folk to understand – an ereader is for some of us a personal library. Those of us really into books are going to care a great deal about the content on the device and maintaining it – it’s more than just data or something disposable. Some of us want to be able to consult those books, maybe reread them again in a few years – for personal or for work reasons. It’s possibly a long term customer base that they could be looking at, if they could come up with a way to insure that there’s more ease of use and backups. At the moment it seems like no one is making the customers 100% happy.

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