The rise of e-reading

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pigfender
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Fri May 22, 2020 11:05 pm Post

I still haven’t bought a kindle / eReader, for many of the same reasons I mentioned in previous posts. I’ve recently started looking at them again, mainly because I thought it might be an easier way to get hold of all the Robert B Parker books, but I was troubled by the fact that eBooks seem... expensive.

I’d always thought that eBooks were significantly cheaper than their print equivalents and would ultimately pay for the device *and* enable me to justify a significant increase in book purchases. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be true anymore (if indeed it ever was).

I don’t know. I am tempted. I just... I guess I want more analogue in my life.
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devinganger
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Sat May 23, 2020 12:30 am Post

pigfender wrote:I still haven’t bought a kindle / eReader, for many of the same reasons I mentioned in previous posts. I’ve recently started looking at them again, mainly because I thought it might be an easier way to get hold of all the Robert B Parker books, but I was troubled by the fact that eBooks seem... expensive.


Oh, bother.

I had almost every Robert Parker book (all the ones he wrote for Spenser, Sunny, Stone, the westerns, and a few of the rest) and I just gave them away three or four months ago to a local convention.

You want me to contact the person and see if she still has them (since the convention was cancelled?)

I had someone give me an old Kindle e-ink with keyboard. I have been using it to read library books during the pandemic. I have surprisingly not hated it as much as I have at previous attempts. Finally got introduced to the Culture in this fashion.
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Silverdragon
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Sat May 23, 2020 12:49 am Post

I started reading e-books before e-books were a thing, with a simple e-reading app on my (dear heavens, has it been that long?) Palm LifeDrive. I also started mobile writing with that Palm... yes, this was before Kindles were introduced.

But my e-book fiction library (all paid for! Honest! Except for the ones that were legitimately free) now is approaching my paper fiction library in number of volumes. I've had a dedicated e-reader (a Kobo mini, now deceased), but mostly I've just used apps on my various laptop, phone and pad devices.

Yes, e-books are cheaper (compared to hardback publisher editions), but that's not why I do it. The first airplane trip I took on which I didn't have to schlep 2 kilos of books to keep myself entertained convinced me. :D
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Marc64
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Sat May 23, 2020 4:50 am Post

pigfender wrote:I still haven’t bought a kindle / eReader, for many of the same reasons I mentioned in previous posts. I’ve recently started looking at them again, mainly because I thought it might be an easier way to get hold of all the Robert B Parker books, but I was troubled by the fact that eBooks seem... expensive.

I’d always thought that eBooks were significantly cheaper than their print equivalents and would ultimately pay for the device *and* enable me to justify a significant increase in book purchases. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be true anymore (if indeed it ever was).

I don’t know. I am tempted. I just... I guess I want more analogue in my life.


This always confuses me as, in my experience, ebooks aren't expensive at all. I've just done a search on Amazon for Robert B Parker and the Kindle version seem to be around the £1.99 mark. Before e-readers, new paperback books were around £4.99 or more.

If I just go to the main Kindle books page, everything seems to range from 99p to £2.99 with maybe a handful around £4.
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Sat May 23, 2020 12:38 pm Post

The Big 5 (or the Pig 5, if one prefers) inflate their ebook prices in order to prop up the sale of their seemingly more profitable paper products. It's backfiring on them, however, and has done so for some time. That's their prerogative, of course. Now they're locked into their high ebook pricing scheme with no quick way out of it during a pandemic when paper book sales are down for them.

The other thing the Pig 5 abhors is Amazon, not realizing that Amazon is the biggest seller of their paper production.

Ebook authors take advantage of the Pig 5s' high prices by pricing their books more conservatively. That works, too.

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Sat May 23, 2020 1:53 pm Post

I bought a Kindle seven or eight years ago and loved it for a while, but now it sits in a cupboard unused. Instead, I use an old iPad – Gen 1 Air, I think. Mostly, though, I buy paper, and here's my point: I often buy second-hand via Abe, etc. However, I dislike doing this because the author doesn't get a cut, and I want to throw money at the authors I read.

I've come to believe that second-hand book sales should include a charge that goes directly to the author (waves arms – I know it's more complex than that) and absolutely not the publisher (or agent, sorry). I queried the Society of Authors about this some time ago, and they showed little interest.

Anyway, this is OT. However, I do worry about the financial side of publishing discouraging writers and would love to see writers more financially comfortable so that they have time to write the books they want to write. Now I'm way OT :D
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Sat May 23, 2020 2:28 pm Post

Love ebooks in terms of in-text searching, annotating, font and line adjustments, syncing between devices, scrolling through books with just a thumb, looking up meanings, having a library of annotated books with me all the time [with no weight added beyond the device itself], and so on.

Three other aspects I love:

1. Gets me away from the smell of paper and ink – especially the wretched, musty smell of old books – and away from other people's snot and food spillages on library books

2. Not having to go into bookshops or libraries (an extension of point 1)

3. Can be anywhere at any hour of the day or night and get a book from an online store or library

Just wish libraries had better ebook collections in terms of the range of books they stock and the number of copies available. I'd be happy for every bricks-and-mortar library to close and be replaced by better, cheaper [to run], cleaner, more readily updated, more easily accessible, etc online libraries ... though I appreciate other people would find that idea abhorrent.

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Sat May 23, 2020 5:01 pm Post

But then where would I go when I need to research Glasgow gangs in the 19th century? The friendly librarians at the brick and mortar libraries are invaluable and need to eat. (To be clear, I'm a wizard at researching most stuff online. But there are times when online won't work and I'm way out of my subject matter comfort zone.)
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Sat May 23, 2020 8:25 pm Post

Yeah, didn’t expect to win hearts and minds.

Think more can be done with a limited pot of money by providing digital services that give users 24-hour from-anywhere access and all the other benefits that have already been mentioned or which are obvious.

We see right now how much can be done through digital services and how much more could be done if we worked to improve and develop those services (for libraries, education, work, research, medicine, care, etc).

Think librarians can still exist and be available digitally, but so much money could be better invested in delivering “more” to more people if we didn’t blow large percentages of the available finance on (time-restricted and difficult-for-some-people-to-reach) buildings, maintenance, and physical products that deteriorate over time and which are expensive to replace.

I am not advocating spending less, but using the money more effectively for the benefit of a greater number of people ... even if such a change is unwelcome by some people. For the greater cause. For the good of the many.

Digital is a medium that enables and empowers. It has reach and accessibility. And enabling and empowering people is a pretty good goal ... in my book.

Think a few landmark libraries will survive but that the future will largely be digital. Just depends on how quickly we reach that future. Soon, I hope.

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Jot
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Sun May 24, 2020 8:13 am Post

Silverdragon wrote:I started reading e-books before e-books were a thing, with a simple e-reading app on my (dear heavens, has it been that long?) Palm LifeDrive. I also started mobile writing with that Palm... yes, this was before Kindles were introduced.

Snap! I started in about 1997 on a Palm IIIxe (the best one with the AAA batteries). I had to convert books to text files to read on it. It was worth not having to carry stuff on train though. I updated that to a Tungsten T3. Colour! Repligo! Good times.
I haven't bought a physical book since.
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Sun May 24, 2020 8:38 am Post

auxbuss wrote:I do worry about the financial side of publishing discouraging writers and would love to see writers more financially comfortable so that they have time to write the books they want to write.

Don't.
An author doesn't get very much payment for printed books published by one of the great publishers. About $2 is a normal fee for a book selling at $19.99 or more in a bookstore. If I sell the same book myself via Amazon, as e-book for $2.99 or a paperback for $9.99, I get a similar payment from Amazon.
Writers need to sell a lot of books to get financially comfortable, and few authors sell that much. Most authors write because the love writing, not as a way of becoming financially comfortable. And for most authors, indie publishing gives them better profits and incomes.
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