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E-Book Sales Have Tripled In the Last Year

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the now-we-only-kill-trees-out-of-spite dept.

Books 204

destinyland writes "The Association of American Publishers revealed today that e-book sales have tripled in the last year. Sixteen publishers reported that in February e-book sales totaled more than $90.3 million, a 202.3% increase over e-book sales in February of 2010. Meanwhile, sales of adult hardcover books have dropped 43%, while mass-market paperback sales dropped 41.5% (earning just $46.2 million and $29.3 million, respectively). The book publishing association acknowledged that readers have 'made e-books permanent additions to their lifestyle,' arguing that publishers 'are constantly redefining the timeless concept of "books"' and identifying new audiences they can serve through emerging technologies. 'It's nice to see that book publishers are aware of the changes rocking their industry,' notes one e-book blog, 'and that they're approaching it with a sense of history.'"

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204 comments

Eh? (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828228)

Meanwhile, sales of adult hardcover books have dropped 43%

I've heard of adult books with crusty pages, but never one with a hardcover.

Re:Eh? (1)

netdigger (847764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828318)

Well they get harder with age

Re:Eh? (1)

Eevee (535658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828490)

Well they get harder with age

I always heard that they get softer with age...

And yet (2)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828236)

One still has to buy an ebook even if they own it in paper, pay twice why don't you? In addition, should one want an ebook alone, the cost tends to be comparative to the paper format, or sometimes more, and let us not even mention DRM. I'm waiting for the costs of ebooks to drop to something more reasonable and comparative to the cost of creation/distribution (mostly distribution and production; writing costs will be the same as paper). Admittedly I may be waiting a while, so in that time I'll continue to buy paper books, whilst the whole world of copyleft implodes upon itself and creates a worm hole to L-space.

Re:And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828294)

That's very principled of you. I'll be pirating my ebooks until publishers get their fingers out of their arses and start offering DRM-free books for around 25% less than the price of a paperback.

Re:And yet (4, Informative)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828388)

Oh, you mean like Baen. And they only charge less for some books - others they give you for free [baen.com] and have found that it increases their sales for related books. Oh and on some of their newer hardcover books they've been including a CD with DRM free share-with-your-friends-requested ebooks of all the previous books in the series (i.e. Cryoburn of Bujold's Vorkosigan adventures).

Ultimately it'll be the market which decides how this plays out, but I know where I'm going to vote with my dollars.

Re:And yet (1)

WhirlwindMonk (1975382) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828802)

Interesting site. Anything in particular on there you'd recommend to a fan of classic fantasy (or fantasy of any type, really)?

Re:And yet (0)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829074)

Don't bother. Science fiction has rarely made for great literature (notwithstanding a few works that are IMHO true contributions to the literary canon), but Baen was like the dregs of the genre.

Re:And yet (1)

WhirlwindMonk (1975382) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829158)

I did say Fantasy, not Sci-Fi, but I know what you mean. So, I suppose I can expand the question. Anything at all worth reading on there?

Re:And yet (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829444)

I did say Fantasy, not Sci-Fi, but I know what you mean. So, I suppose I can expand the question. Anything at all worth reading on there?

Of the names they have listed, give Bujold a try. I've enjoyed almost all of her books; fun story, great characters, generally very well written. It looks like they only have one book and a short story available for free. The Warrior's Apprentice is quite good, and was actually my introduction to her work - it is the first book featuring Miles Vorkosigan, her major central character (earlier books, now together in the volume Cordelia's Honor, cover his parents - and I think they actually were written first - but Warrior's Apprentice is a good place to start). Mountains of Mourning is also very good, but very different from most of her work (although it does feature Miles).

If you prefer fantasy she has a good series in that genre as well, I think the first book was Curse of Chalion. She has a more recent fantasy series, The Sharing Knife, but I didn't like it nearly as much as her earlier fantasy and science fiction. And probably a different publisher, so no free e-books of any of them as far as I know.

Re:And yet (1)

zrbyte (1666979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828440)

That's very principled of you. I'll be pirating my ebooks until publishers get their fingers out of their arses and start offering DRM-free books

Thanks! We need more readers like you, who have principles!

Best Regards,
The content creators.

Re:And yet (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828858)

Perhaps you should speak to your publishers to adjust book prices so they're not more expensive than paperback books. I have purchased some ebooks but only ones that I already have in hardback and love to read. Without a way to resell a book that doesn't appeal to me after purchase, I'm a lot less likely to purchase an ebook. I have purchased quite a few game PDFs because they're less than the paperback versions. Shadowrun core and supplements are $15 and $12 each on PDF.

[John]

Profit Margins and Monopolies (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829206)

> I'll be pirating my ebooks

Try not to. Publishers have *very* slim profit margins, and supporting them lets them buy more works, which tends to increase the number of published books. Also, when you are thinking of Amazon, buy Barnes and Noble if you can--not because they're better, but because it's so important they stay in business. If Amazon becomes the sole major player, they will not only take a bigger slice of the pie than they already are (making it even harder to publish or write books), there will be one private channel controlling the majority of mass-disseminated literature.

Re:And yet (2)

AF_Cheddar_Head (1186601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828356)

While I agree that it would be nice for e-books to be cheaper why do individuals insist on comparing the price of a newly released e-book to a paperback when most books are released first as hard covers which typically run from 20-30 dollars. Following the same model newly released ebooks at the price of 10 dollars are half the price of the competition.

By the way most libraries have an e-book shelf that you can use to borrow from for the cost of a library card FREE.

Re:And yet (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828554)

No idea if British libraries have an ebook thingy or not mind you.

On the note of cost, I wouldn't mind paying £1-3 in addition to the paper book cost for a DRM free ebook copy. That probably covers the relative overheads of hosting, bandwidth and server admins (or something that does) without giving double profits to the publisher. I'm mostly against double dipping for a format change. Cover your overheads, yes, double your profits, ha no.

Quick example: book from Apress (random) http://www.apress.com/9781430230427 [apress.com] - Print: $40, Ebook $28. I understand niche books carry higher costs, but I'm not sure those two carry the same profit margins. In addition to this, Apress do "companion" ebooks for $10. Honestly, I think that's a bit high but the idea is welcome. I Think their ebooks are DRM free, but I can't find it on their site.

To be honest, if their ebooks carried the cost of Profit Margin of Paper Copy + Overhead Of Hosting etc = $Value and that was something closer to the cost set of a "companion" ebook, I'd probably just buy the lot (around a subject in question). Unfortunately they want close to the paper cost, so I'll just buy the odd paper one off Amazon instead.

Re:And yet (1)

AF_Cheddar_Head (1186601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829098)

I agree completely to the idea of a companion e-book. Something like what the movie guys (yeah I know bad, bad, movie guys) tried awhile ago, bundling an electronic license/version with the DVD.

Re:And yet (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829620)

I agree completely to the idea of a companion e-book. Something like what the movie guys (yeah I know bad, bad, movie guys) tried awhile ago, bundling an electronic license/version with the DVD.

Tried a while ago? Still trying, seems like. Every movie I buy these days (blu-ray) seems to come with a digital copy and a fricking DVD. Neither of which I've ever used, but hey - at least they include them.

Re:And yet (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829234)

Why assume double dipping for the publisher? I suspect Amazon does most of the double-dipping.

Re:And yet (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828650)

Because Hard Covers are an addition to a collection for most people, THAT is why they can charge a premium.

The cover type is irrelevant when talking about eBooks. It's just data, and it is priced way too high, for now. Looking at sales numbers, authors make more money selling an eBook at 99 cents then at full price.
Publishing house will nearly go away in the next decade. It's to easy and to lucrative to self publish an ebook. 1000 bucks and you can get widely published among every ebook type, and you get 60-70% of each sale.

Here is an example:
Rothfuss new eBook: 15dollars
Dashell's 'Red Harvest (1929) 10 dollars.

IF they want to try and leverage the early bird money, charge 4.99 for a year, then 99 cents.

Re:And yet (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829592)

While I agree that it would be nice for e-books to be cheaper why do individuals insist on comparing the price of a newly released e-book to a paperback when most books are released first as hard covers which typically run from 20-30 dollars. Following the same model newly released ebooks at the price of 10 dollars are half the price of the competition.

I don't. I compare to hardbacks. Amazon had Patrick Rothfuss' newest book for about $15 in hardback, or the e-book for $12. So, save $3 dollars to get a digital copy, which I can't lend, can't give to someone else when I'm done, can't sell to a used bookstore, etc.

So yes, I think that e-book prices need to see a major reduction. They are very limited, are significantly cheaper to produce and distribute (approximately 0 marginal cost), and yet cost more than a paperback and nearly as much as a high-volume hardback (you're right, though, regarding those few hardbacks that come out that they actually try to charge full MSRP for - compared to those, the digital price might be approximately appropriate).

Re:And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828502)

You do realize that unless the book is distributed _only_ in ebook format the author still has to recoup the cost of printing the initial run of dead tree books right?

The cost of distributing an ebook may be notably less than the cost of distributing a printed book, but the cost of producing a book available in both print and electronic formats is probably about the same as producing it in only printed formats. That's why the electronic copies have comparable cost to the printed copies (since every electronic sale is presumably one sale that will not be made for a printed copy).

You have to look at the opportunity cost of selling the ebook (namely that the publisher has less ability to sell the print copies) which then must be figured into the sale price.

Re:And yet (1)

WhirlwindMonk (1975382) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828846)

How about they...say...print fewer physical copies, then? If the number of print copies you sell is going down, don't keep printing the same quantity and then raise the price of ebooks to compensate for your bad business decision. Besides, as has been demonstrated multiple times, when you can set the price really low, doing so can get you a lot of money as it enters "impulse buy" range.

Re:And yet (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829072)

You do realize that unless the book is distributed _only_ in ebook format the author still has to recoup the cost of printing the initial run of dead tree books right?

Which they do by selling those books.

Your argument is backwards: 90+% of the work of producing an ebook by a traditional publisher (editing, copyediting, cover production, etc) has already been done in order to produce the dead tree book, so the ebook sales are practically free money. That only changes if dead tree book sales drop to the point where they no longer cover their production costs, and that's unlikely to happen for quite a few years..

Re:And yet (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829308)

> That only changes if dead tree book sales drop to the point where they no longer cover their production costs, and that's unlikely to happen for quite a few years..

They make decisions about what books to buy and how many authors to support based on whether the book will make a profit and whether it has the potential to make a good one. ebook sales factor into that decision.

The ebook sales also aren't "free money." First, they're not free in the Lochean income-should-be-earned sense because you have at least some further work to be done or already done, including contract negotiations and new typesetting. Second, they're not free in the bottom-line real-world economic sense because they are a competing product with the physical books. Third, either way, their free money isn't as much as you think it is, because distributor-retailers [e.g. Amazon] have monopolies that significantly limit publisher profits.

Re:And yet (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829508)

They make decisions about what books to buy and how many authors to support based on whether the book will make a profit and whether it has the potential to make a good one. ebook sales factor into that decision.

Why would a publisher put a book on the shelf if they know it's going to lose money?

The ebook sales also aren't "free money." First, they're not free in the Lochean income-should-be-earned sense because you have at least some further work to be done or already done, including contract negotiations and new typesetting.

I didn't say they were 'free money', I said they were 'practically free money'. 'Typesetting' a typical fiction ebook is insanely easy compared to typesetting a print book, because there's very little formatting you can do. Contract negotiations have to be done regardless of how the book will be sold, so the additional cost is small.

As I said, 90% of the work is the same regardless of whether it's a dead tree book, an ebook or both. If you're already making a profit selling dead tree books, then the ebook is practically free money on top.

Third, either way, their free money isn't as much as you think it is, because distributor-retailers [e.g. Amazon] have monopolies that significantly limit publisher profits.

Amazon give 70% royalties, which is better than you'll get from a dead tree bookstore. And there are no returns to worry about, which can significantly eat into the profits from a dead tree book.

Re:And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828586)

One still has to buy an ebook even if they own it in paper, pay twice why don't you? In addition, should one want an ebook alone, the cost tends to be comparative to the paper format, or sometimes more, and let us not even mention DRM. I'm waiting for the costs of ebooks to drop to something more reasonable and comparative to the cost of creation/distribution (mostly distribution and production; writing costs will be the same as paper). Admittedly I may be waiting a while, so in that time I'll continue to buy paper books, whilst the whole world of copyleft implodes upon itself and creates a worm hole to L-space.

No you don't.

It takes only about 1 minute per 20 pages to scan a book and convert to .pdf yourself, assuming the opened book is scanned at a left/right page per scanner pass. Assuming the book costs about $10 (or more), and that most common books are only 200-400 pages, that's only 10-20 minutes to convert most books to a very high quality (200-300dpi) bog-standard .pdf with no DRM or proprietary anything.

Assuming you make less than $40/hour (like most people), there is little reason not to do this. After doing the first one, you realize how fast it is.

Use a 8MP+ quality digital camera with zoom on a tripod, and take a pic of the wel lit opened book, flipping pages as fast as the camera can be ready for the next pic, if you don't want to use a scanner.

Use gscan2pdf and xsane and you're good to go.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/gscan2pdf/

I suspect that moving forward, Fahrenheit-451-esque P2P/F2F USB stick or wifi sharing of self-made .pdf's (or other open eBook formats) will be common.

which means.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828240)

Which means that e-book piracy has quazillioned!

ahoy, mateys.

Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (4, Interesting)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828252)

Wife has a Nook. I have a Kindle. We are each inseparable from these devices, which are each currently filled with easily a two-year backlog of books waiting to be read. If you distribute a book, and there is no electronic version of it available, it's gonna have to be the Word of God newly etched on tablets for either of us to even consider buying it.

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828360)

Too bad you cannot share a book you find interesting, unless you give her your kindle. Remember those days when we were kids, when we used to read it and pass it to our friends when we were done because they were "freaking awesome!!11!". :(

I am all for ebooks, they save environment and everything (till it gets to the point where people start tossing out their kindles and nooks). But there just has to be a way to enable sharing.

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828612)

I am all for ebooks, they save environment and everything

CITATION NEEDED!!

The environmental cost used to produce a gadget like a kindle easily exceed that of 100 paperback books. Just because it is smaller, does not imply it is cheaper. ebook readers would only be more environmentally friendly if people didn't break them and used them for 100s of books.

Then again, most people like myself are not rich and can't afford 100s of books anyway. For people like myself, places likes libraries save significantly more environment than otherwise possible.

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829804)

What's the environmental impact of constructing a physical library? Of the transportation used to go there? Electricity usage? Other infrastructure?

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828862)

Ebooks do not save the environment. While you might think so because we are not cutting down trees for books you have to remember that books are usually kept forever, people do not usually throw away books, they end up getting donated and eventually land in a library somewhere. The exception is textbooks, because when a new version comes out every school requires that new version so the old versions are recycled. Very few books end up in landfills because they can be easily recycled unlike consumer electronics where after many years the items eventually end up in the trash like a parallel port 100mb Zip drive.

The only way ebooks would be better for the environment is if they were being read on existing devices like laptops or cellphones since you already had that device for other reasons. Purpose built devices like the Nook and Kindle are bad for the environment.

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829562)

Besides, the majority of trees that are cut down to make books are grown specifically for that purpose. They're at worst carbon neutral, at best they're providing woodland that otherwise would be given over to agriculture or industry. Admittedly shipping them about is still harmful, but so is shipping a bunch of components from around the globe to build an e-reader.

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829878)

Nonsense books are trashed all the time. Libraries throw out books every year to make room for newer books. Used books stores won't buy any book you bring in. If you see a garage sale with books in it chances are the unsold books will be trashed or recycled. Then there is the big books stores. If a book doesn't sell they rip the cover off and ship it back to the publisher. Maybe the paper is recycled. Rare books are rare because the majority of books wind up in a dump at some point. Collectors who keep books for a long period of time are an exception not the rule.

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (2)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829038)

I don't buy DRM-encumbered eBooks. If anyone wants to borrow a book from me, electronic or otherwise, it can be done. Moreover, I can read my ebooks on any device I have that supports them, and can easily convert between formats with calibre [calibre-ebook.com] .

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829850)

I've resisted so far as well. Thankfully at least a couple of vendors offer DRM free versions of ebooks like Baen [webscription.net] .

Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Black and White. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828576)

I'd like to see a breakdown of that success over the type of E-readers out there. Is the newer readers playing any kind of role in the adoption of E-books? How about a breakdown across type of books? Are the new color children's books any kind of success? How about magazines?

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828662)

"Word of God newly etched on tablets "
funny, that's exactly what most authors think there work is~

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828912)

s/there/their/g

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829454)

Yep. I've only bought 1 paper book since I've bought my kindle several years ago.

After reading all the responses to this article, I'm going to turn it into an e-book. Apparently, it's easy.

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829474)

That's sort of my thought on the matter. I've yet to come across a book, with the possible exception of a reference book, that was worth the migraines I get from trying to position myself to read for more than a few minutes. There's also the issue of trying to store these books. And that should be something that the publishers are worried about because otherwise why bother buying new?

Book people seem to think that there's something about physical books that's innately pleasurable, but really that's just an example of conditioning. Same as with Pavlov's dogs.

Re:Note to Publishers: I'm Done with Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35829738)

Etch this on your tablet: Eat a bowl of dicks, asshole.

regauarding e books (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828270)

I still fail to see why anyone would want to spend money on an e book. I like to be able to read a book ... not worry over when they will revoke the book from "my reader. " It's not even my reader ... because I can't really do anything to it except turn it on and charge the battery without falling outside the law.

With a book I can let someone borrow it, I can gift it, I can sell it .. I can shelf it and reread it 5 years from now. "E books" offer me nothing except worry over when it will expire.

Re:regauarding e books (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828348)

I still fail to see why anyone would want to spend money on an e book. I like to be able to read a book ... not worry over when they will revoke the book from "my reader. "

Weird. All the e-books I own are DRM-free, so I can do whatever I want with them for my own use.

You're right though, I wouldn't want to pay paperback prices for an e-book with DRM which can be revoked at any time. That's why I avoid buying any which do have DRM.

Re:regauarding e books (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828668)

So where do you get your E-Books from then?

Re:regauarding e books (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828778)

So where do you get your E-Books from then?

So far I've been buying older books from Smashwords; a number of previously published authors are using it to sell their backlist of books that are out of print, and most are available in multiple formats from DRM-free Kindle files to plain text.

BTW, there was also an interesting thread on a writing site recently where someone who worked for a publisher was saying that pretty much everyone at the sharp end of ebook publishing in those companies was well aware that DRM didn't work and was costing them sales, but the people at the top still insist on including it (and charging the authors for doing so). So over time it's likely to go away.

Re:regauarding e books (1)

Spellvexit (1039042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829048)

A couple of good places to get free ebooks are:

There are quite a few others, but many of these sites share 90% of the same content anyhow. I've got a Kindle and greatly enjoy it, but like many of the other readers here, I balk at the ridiculous prices for ebooks (wow, a dollar off the electronic edition!!). There's a great backlog of classics out there that are freely available, so I'm not really wanting for leisure reading content. I guess I'll just have to wait for Going Rogue to go public domain!

Re:regauarding e books (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829806)

And if you have a Kindle, Amazon [amazon.com] has a collection of free classics.

Re:regauarding e books (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829734)

So where do you get your E-Books from then?

Google Books?

Turns out there's a few centuries worth of material freely available. I might be 70 years behind, but I don't see myself running out of material any time soon...

Just kidding. I don't even have an ebook reader (although I have read a few classics on my computer). But that's what I'd do. Heck, I think even Amazon has a large collection of out-of-copyright books that you can freely download in proper e-book format.

Re:regauarding e books (2)

jbrandv (96371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828412)

My wife, an avid reader, reads about a book a day. Try carrying 10-15 books on a vacation and you'll realize one of the benefits of e-books. She can now carry 100s of books at a time any where she goes. And they are all DRM free. Yes, I've had to remove the DRM from some of them but they are DRM free now. ;-)

Re:regauarding e books (1)

cool_arrow (881921) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828456)

My sentiments exactly. I might be able to get excited about the technology if e-ink displays were about 10x faster and the content cheaper and belonged to me. Otherwise a physical book is far better value for the reasons you've stated assuming you have easy access to the book etc etc

Re:regauarding e books (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829682)

I'd like to get a copy of the ebook with my physical purchase. That makes sense, the book is in a portable format when I need it but in a warm and much more usable format when I'm at home, and I know that it can't be deleted from my library without my permission. Under those circumstances I'd probably buy a reader. I know they're probably terrified I'll sell my physical copy and keep the digital copy, but there's nothing to stop people downloading a digital copy for free already, why not - for once - offer added value to the customer instead of punishing them?

Re:regauarding e books (2)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829930)

I don't believe you can physically turn a dead tree book page 10x faster than an ebook can display a new e-ink page.

Re:regauarding e books (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828530)

With a book I can let someone borrow it, I can gift it, I can sell it .. I can shelf it and reread it 5 years from now. "E books" offer me nothing except worry over when it will expire

I used to think this, but then I took a look at the wall of books in my house and controversially realised that the number of times I'd lent them out to people or gone back and read them again many years later could be counted on the fingers of one hand. When I came around to reading a new book, there was always something new and interesting to buy that meant I didn't have to go back to my existing collection. I have books that I've read only once and that was when I bought it.

In short, I get the impression that the idea that people want to go back and read old fiction books is a little like the idea that people want user replaceable batteries in their mobile phones. Lots of people are very vocal about the fact that they want it (and I fully expect several of them to reply to this post and tell me how wrong I am) - but actually the vast majority of people really don't

(I'm excluding references books as they are not used in the same way as fiction)

Re:regauarding e books (1)

das3cr (780388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828814)

The wife and I both re-read the entire Wheel of Time series every time there is a new book published. And Yes, the collection of books in the house has actually grown past the space we have to store them all. But that's ok ... we are getting some new shelves soon. LOL

I can see some appeal to e books. But for me ... someone who /still/ prefers a printed version of whatever media I'm looking at the appeal of another dead battery housing is pretty much null. After all ... I already have flashlights and cell phones for storing dead batteries. Do I really need something else for that?

Re:regauarding e books (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828878)

I have an enormous library of books, mostly fiction. You are correct. I only occasionally reread them -usually when a new book in a long series lands in my hands and I can't recall the plot of the previous books. I do, however, lend/give them to friends far more often.

Re:regauarding e books (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829972)

The enormous library is the major problem that ebooks solves for me. I filled up two book shelves with physical books in my small apartment. I purchased an ereader instead of purchasing another book shelf. I simply don't want to fill up my place with stuff.

Re:regauarding e books (1)

clodney (778910) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829298)

Want to know why I read ebooks?

- I can store all the books I want to read on a single device, rather than carting around multiple books or having to store them after the fact.
- I can impulse buy and have it delivered within a minute or two
- New releases are *typically* (not always) cheaper than the corresponding hardcover
- I've never had a book revoked from reader, and while I acknowledge the possibility, I consider it a tin-foil hat problem.
- Lending a book to someone is something that I very rarely do, since most of my friends have different taste in literature.
- I suppose there is DRM in all of my Kindle books, but if I didn't read /. I wouldn't even be aware of it. I click buy, it shows up on my Kindle. Like Steam, when I got a new Kindle I just went to Amazon and told it to send all my books to my new Kindle. 10 minutes later, everything was good to go on the new device.

In other news.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828306)

Publishing costs have gone down to approximately nil, while revenues have remained stable and profits have jumped sky high.

Why the fuck should we pay more than a dollar for a file? People paying $20+ for an ebook (the link below shows some close to the price of a modest house) aren't just stupid, they're fucking stupid. There's no reason you should pay that much beyond enriching the greedy publishers and sellers like Amazon - I don't see licensing or odd behind-the-scenes costs (again, see below) as real costs, since it's always about artificial scarcity and silently inflating revenues.

http://askville.amazon.com/100-expensive-books-amazon/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=240635

Re:In other news.. (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828442)

Perhaps you'd have a different opinion if you, say, wrote books for a living.

Re:In other news.. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828492)

Perhaps you'd have a different opinion if you, say, wrote books for a living.

From talking to published authors, they typically seem to get $1-2 per physical book sale, so they could still make more money if their ebooks were available for $2.99 on Amazon ($2.99 is about $2 per book at Amazon royalty rates). Most of the money in writing goes to the publisher and the retailer, not the author.

Experience (4, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828424)

I bought a Kindle for my wife as a Christmas present a few years back. To be frank, my main purpose was to address the problem we had with ever-growing, increasingly-unstable, easy-to-trip-over piles of books scattered somewhat randomly around our house (she's always been a serious book hound). She wasn't completely sold on the idea, but it only took her a week or so to completely fall in love with the device.

Then this past winter I got one when I found I was going to be "arm less" for six weeks due to shoulder surgery. I also wasn't sold on the device, but have quickly come around. In some ways it's actually more convenient to read than a paper book! And while my initial thought was "Buttons? I dunno, multi-touch is much better" - I now think the navigation buttons are a better way to go. You can easily turn pages on a Kindle using the same hand you're holding the "book", which is not true of an iPad - or even a paper book.

I am bothered by the DRM issue, and initially it held me back from making the move to an e-reader. But since I currently can (and do) strip the DRM from my e-books and copy them to my media backup disk, these concerns don't stop me from using the technology. But I'm hoping someone in authority will eventually step forward with a "Thoughts on DRM" missive regarding e-books - as we've seen with music, selling people DRM-encumbered media has potentially dire long-term consequences; and it's not a given we'll always have the ability (even "underground") to remove it.

Re:Experience (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828700)

The advantage to DRM is that library will have a way to lend eBooks. In this regard, it doesn't bother me. I would much rather see something put on place that re-enforces our right. Like making it illegal for a company to 'buy back' a book from a consumer without the consumers consent. Consent must be on a book by book basis.

If it had DRM, but the consumer had the power, I would be fine with it.

Re:Experience (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828944)

To be frank, my main purpose was to address the problem we had with ever-growing, increasingly-unstable, easy-to-trip-over piles of books scattered somewhat randomly around our house

There's this new invention called the bookcase [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Experience (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829610)

Then this past winter I got one when I found I was going to be "arm less" for six weeks due to shoulder surgery. I also wasn't sold on the device, but have quickly come around. In some ways it's actually more convenient to read than a paper book! And while my initial thought was "Buttons? I dunno, multi-touch is much better" - I now think the navigation buttons are a better way to go. You can easily turn pages on a Kindle using the same hand you're holding the "book", which is not true of an iPad - or even a paper book.

As a book hound as well, I have no problems turning pages on my iPad with one hand. A flick of the thumb and the page changes. And even in paperback as I hold a book in one hand and just relax the thumb a little to let a page go. Like both, it's not perfect as I don't give enough of a flick on the iPad for it to go or let too many pages go when relaxing my thumb.

[John]

DRM (1)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828432)

It's too bad that, now that publishers realize that ebooks are here to stay, they are trying to take advantage of the situation by keeping prices high and using proprie

Re:DRM (1)

DJCouchyCouch (622482) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828596)

I absolutely HATE it when they use proprie. Gets all in the far corners of the sofa.

e-Books Still a Scam (2)

wall0645 (1665631) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828446)

I refuse to buy e-Books until the prices come down to lower than paperbacks (Kindle books usually same price as paperbacks) and I have similar rights per their use as I have with a paper book (which I can sell and lend). And I'm certainly not going to buy them if they are locked to a device or a certain company's devices.

Re:e-Books Still a Scam (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35829040)

When my ereader comes in the next week or so, my plan is to buy physical books but pirate the ebook version, because I want to support the authors, but I don't want to support the ridiculous scam that ebook pricing is right now or the DRM that is included.

Posted anon for obvious reasons.

Re:e-Books Still a Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35829676)

For years the prices *were* lower for e-books. And then Amazon made them popular and the Big 5 got together and refused to let anyone sell their e-books unless the publisher could set the price. I used to buy several e-books a month. Now I hardly buy any.

Ebooks are great (2)

anethema (99553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828460)

I know slashdot tends to be a little Luddite-ish when it comes to ebooks/ereaders for some reason, but as an avid reader I couldn't be more happy.

When I go to Mexico on vacation, I usually go through a book every day or two. This means I would almost need an entire suitcase for books. With my Kindle, I just bring it! When I still manage to run out of books, the kindle has 3G damn near anywhere on earth for free, and I simply buy more. I have any book I want within seconds pretty much.

They are FAR more comfortable to read with than a real book as they are light and small, and don't have a fat side depending how far into the book you are. Nothing more annoying than starting a book and wanting to lay on your left side to read it. You also never have the problem of dry fingers having trouble getting a grip on the page, or accidentally grabbing 2 pages by accident.

Some people like to show off their book collections, or bring up that dropping a book and an ebook reader off a building only the book is more likely to survive, but for the massive massive convenience benefits, I suggest you store your ego, and take better care of your stuff. I'll worry about not being able to get new books (even though you can put text files on it over USB fine) when Amazon goes out of business.

This way books are cheaper, faster/easier to get, lighter, and easier to read. For me it is a no brainer.

Re:Ebooks are great (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828874)

Becasue theya re emotional attached to the idea of a 'book'. I have started to think there are two kinds of readers: readers who enjoy reading, and people who like to collect books. Not the story, but the idea I ahve a paper bound thing.

These people usually stand out. When you ask them about there book they will rush to tell you about how much they read and how many books they have.
I used to read to collect books, but I moved on.

I bought a kindle for my wife. Who likes reading romance, and there are a ton of free romances. Plus shelf space is at a premium in our house. She loves it. I got one for myself, and I don't want to open another paper book again.

Re:Ebooks are great (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829042)

I know slashdot tends to be a little Luddite-ish when it comes to ebooks/ereaders for some reason, but as an avid reader I couldn't be more happy.

They are FAR more comfortable to read with than a real book as they are light and small, and don't have a fat side depending how far into the book you are. Nothing more annoying than starting a book and wanting to lay on your left side to read it. You also never have the problem of dry fingers having trouble getting a grip on the page, or accidentally grabbing 2 pages by accident.

I honestly have not yet found an e-reader that is comfortable to hold while reading. I have tried several, but never purchased one. Perhaps it becomes more comfortable once you "get used to it" after a few days.

That is the only thing holding me back. No submerged Luddite desires, just comfort.

The Problem is Still An Outdated Publisher's Model (4, Insightful)

sarbonn (1796548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828480)

I'm a novelist who has been published by legacy publishers (old style of publishing). As a writer who has moved over to the e-reader market, I've been doing a lot of networking with a lot of writers who are writing specifically for Kindle and Nook markets. What's interesting is that publishers still want to force their tiny royalty schedule onto writers, even though the costs to the publishers have gone to practically nothing. Sure, in the beginning, a publisher puts forth a bit of the upfront costs (including an advance), but what then happens is that the writer receives a tiny fraction of the profit. This was somewhat fine with the legacy model, but now with e-readers, publishers STILL want to keep 90 percent of the profit. One of my publishers sent me an email informing me that because my sales were good, they were going to "reward" me with 20 percent of ebook sales. Yet, when I put books directly onto the Kindle, I received 70 percent of the profit (Amazon keeps 30 percent). Until publishers start moving into the future of this dynamic, the industry is going to make a move much like the music industry did. Right now, publishers are scrambling to maintain control, because the only real positive they have in their favor is that they used to be able to get your books into a bookstore. Now, anyone can get onto the Internet and Amazon. All they have left to offer is marketing, and strangely enough, about ten years ago, unless you were a Stephen King level of writer, they weren't doing any marketing for lower level writers. Which means, the publishing industry is about to implode.

Re:The Problem is Still An Outdated Publisher's Mo (1)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828632)

One of my publishers sent me an email informing me that because my sales were good, they were going to "reward" me with 20 percent of ebook sales. Yet, when I put books directly onto the Kindle, I received 70 percent of the profit (Amazon keeps 30 percent).

Interesting. Which model brings in greater net returns to you and to the general novelist population, the legacy publishers or the kindle?

Re:The Problem is Still An Outdated Publisher's Mo (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828826)

I have talked to several authors, and in every case they make more money eBook publishing.
There are several reasons:
1) Anyone can do it, you don't need to go through the publishing maze in hopes that soemone will allow you to keep a tiny bit of cheese. Remember, Advances are rarely given to unknown names. The First book is written when they are shopping for a publisher.

2) Higher percent of the profit. 60-70% v 10%.

3) The long tail. Once your book is out there, it's out there. No worrying that the book store will stop selling it. As then author gains readers, they will continue to get money from the back log.

4) low cost for new readers. 99 cents mean new readers are likely to give the book a try. That means more reader; wjwhich means more sales from your back catalog.

Cons:
Marketing. a legacy publisher will have a marketing department that is entrenched into outlets. However, they only really use it for a tiny number of author. rarely first time author.

Re:The Problem is Still An Outdated Publisher's Mo (1)

clodney (778910) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829634)

Cons:
Marketing. a legacy publisher will have a marketing department that is entrenched into outlets. However, they only really use it for a tiny number of author. rarely first time author.

We all like to pretend that marketing is evil/stupid/useless, but the reality is that it makes a big difference. My brother is a full time author, and once upon a time a book he wrote was victim of the publishers reorg, and he ended up with no marketing effort from the publisher at all. It was in their catalog, but nothing more than that. Compared to everything else he has written, the book completely tanked. Ordinarily the publisher sends out review copies to book reviewers, they schedule readings and signings with booksellers, they arrange displays or promotions in the bookstores, radio interviews, etc. All of those drive interest in a book, and convince the booksellers to order more. Just having 4 or 5 copies on a shelf vs 1 is a huge help - it stick out that much more to people browsing the stacks.

With online selling it gets more complicated, but you still have the question of how to make people aware of your book so that they are willing to make the purchase.

Re:The Problem is Still An Outdated Publisher's Mo (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829606)

Publishers vary quite a bit in terms of both royalties and freedom they provide to the customer. I'm not sure what O'Reilly pays for the books they publish, but the terms of the digital distribution are really generous. No DRM, multiple formats and sometimes even minor updates to the book.

The main downside with them is a lot of the older books are still PDF. But the ebooks are often cheaper than the print and you can even get the two bundled together if you wish.

As far as novels go, I don't know of any that are that progressive.

Publishing industry is dead... (2)

crabel (1862874) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828500)

One of my favorites autors (mostly selfpublishing nowadays) predicts that it will collapse by the end of the year. I guess he is right, e.g. there is this self-publishing guy, who sells a couple of 100,000 ebooks per year for 99 cent. And that other guy, who refused 500 grand and selfpublishes instead. http://www.michaelastackpole.com/?p=2436 [michaelastackpole.com] http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/03/09/0618234/Crime-Writer-Makes-a-Killing-With-99-Cent-E-Books [slashdot.org] http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/03/22/0125218/Best-Selling-Author-Refuses-500k-Self-Publishes-Instead [slashdot.org]

Re:Publishing industry is dead... (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828544)

I think we're going to see dramatic changes in publishing, but not to that extent. Self-publishing is great if you've already built up a reputation through print publishing, but for someone who's just starting out as a writer they're stuck with trying to differentiate themselves from the 99% of self-published fiction that's simply dire.

Having a known publisher's logo on your ebook is going to be beneficial for quite some time, if only to say 'give this book a try, it's not crap like all those other ones you've looked at'. Plus most writers want to write, not spend time marketing, creating book covers, etc.

Re:Publishing industry is dead... (2)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828740)

It might be interesting then to establish a quality mark for self-publishers as a way of denoting quality reading. I guess this would really be a publisher who operated entirely around ebooks, but didn't run at the costs of a major publisher. I'm thinking small percent profit instead of $Everything for the sake of handling operating costs. I'd say have a free one, which could also work, but then you'd get a scratch mine scratch yours system where quality could slip, thus defeating the point of the system. A small cost system would work though as it would barely raise the overhead cost of an Ebook for the sake of having a third party body vouch for it.

Re:Publishing industry is dead... (1)

WhirlwindMonk (1975382) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829114)

I have never in my life looked for a publisher's mark to determine if a book is good. I read the back, and with the advent of the internet, I read reviews. So, if I saw an independently published book with an interesting description but no reviews for 99 cents, I'd probably grab it because 1) I want to support self publishing and the end of the old publisher business model and 2) because, for 99 cents, so what if it's bad? I can find that much on my bedroom floor. I pay that much for a freaking cookie sometimes, and a good book lasts a lot longer than a cookie.

Re:Publishing industry is dead... (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829398)

I have never in my life looked for a publisher's mark to determine if a book is good.

You didn't need to, because if it didn't have a publisher's mark on the cover it wasn't on the bookstore shelf. Getting into a bookstore was pretty much impossible for self-published fiction for the last few decades, which is why self-publishing has only become popular again now that it's become so easy.

Seriously, I looked at about a hundred self-published ebook samples recently. Most of them were dire, most of the rest were barely readable and the only ones I considered buying were the books that had previously been published in print but the rights had reverted to the author who was self-publishing them as ebooks.

I'd love to support more self-published authors, but I'm having a hard time finding any I can read more than two pages of without wanting to throw the ebook across the room.

Re:Publishing industry is dead... (1)

WhirlwindMonk (1975382) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829586)

So...if I never looked for one before, why would I start now? Because you tend to find the good, cheap ebooks tend to have one? I have read far too much trash that has not only been published, but published and highly praised to give a crap about a publisher's mark.

Re:Publishing industry is dead... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829748)

So...if I never looked for one before, why would I start now? Because you tend to find the good, cheap ebooks tend to have one? I have read far too much trash that has not only been published, but published and highly praised to give a crap about a publisher's mark.

There's still a big difference between trash and unreadable. At least you could potentially read to the end of the trash novel without wanting to pull your own brain out through your nose.

Seriously, go read a hundred self-published novel samples and see if you still feel the same way. Or go to fanfiction.net, read a few hundred random stories there and realise that the average self-published ebook isn't much better (they are generally a bit better because the formatting, etc, means they need a bit more dedication to release... on the other hand they don't have a competent set of characters and storylines to steal from the way fan fiction does).

Culture crash (2)

h1q (2042122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828524)

I can envision a future with pervasive encrypted permissions in which a glitch or attack will cause us to lose access to a significant part of our writings and media for an indeterminate period of time.
A world without open source books and readers will be like giving us Harkonnen heart-plugs.

Re:Culture crash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35829068)

Hal Draper's "MS Fnd in a Lbry" is a dry but fun short sci-fi satire from the '60s. It describes a situation where abstracted information (specifically the sum of human knowledge) becomes inaccessible due to circular references and the like. I think I originally saw it mentioned on Slashdot when discussing these same issues a few years back.

In Soviet Russia . . . (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828556)

E-books read YOU!

freezing aerosol afternoons, cold cold nights, oil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828580)

what would anyone expect would be able to grow/thrive in this abysmal place? fear? death? so it does work.

My Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828640)

I have a Kindle, at first I was turned off by it, until I started taking classes again. I have not bought an eBook yet but my Kindle can read PDF files. I've been turning all my lecture notes on ppt into PDF and reading them anywhere I go. I have also done the same with manuals and articles I need to read for school and work. I do have some old eBooks I have downloaded for free, they are given away if its an older book no one seems to care about anymore but are good reads to me.

My only complaint is the search on Kindle sucks, I hate the buttons and wish it was touch screen. I will still reach for my computer if I have to do any real searching.

I think soon you will see books go through the same issues music has.

Make your own eBook (1)

milesObrien (707364) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828702)

It is trivially easy and fast to make your own open, standard .pdf eBook. It takes only 1 min per 20 pages (or less) to scan a book open face on a scanner. Or use a 8MP+ digital camera on a tripod shooting a well lit open face book, turning the pages as fast as the camera is ready for the next shot. Use gscan2pdf to do minimal post processing (rotate, crop batch operations) then Save As .pdf. http://sourceforge.net/projects/gscan2pdf/ [sourceforge.net] For most books, this means only 20-30 minutes total, much less than people believe. For most people earning less than $50/hr, the effort is minimal, assuming your PC is doing other things at the same time.

Epic Book Series (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35828758)

I've owned a kindle for going on a year. And I'm a big Brandon Sanderson fan, so I wonder with his new series, The Stormlight Archive, which is an epic 10 volume over ten years series, why would I start purchasing those in eBook format? What is the possibility that format is still used in 10 years, or that my purchase is still available in 10 years?

In these instances, I will still purchase the hardcover. Paper is a better long term choice. Not to mention that I can lend it to someone else to read.

The SirFatty.

precisely why I dont buy a kindle (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828900)

Even though the newest price has almost fallen to double digits. I'd be way too tempted to buy more books than I read and spend lots of money. Of course that is Amazon's goal.

PRS-650 (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 3 years ago | (#35828906)

Anyone have experience with that model? Seems to look good, but never saw it 'live'...

Also seems to be very hard to get. Even the Sony store here doesn't have it. :-/

Re:PRS-650 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35829556)

Yep. I have the original prs-500, as did my wife. Loved the device. Just got her the prs-650 about 2 months ago. Now I'm kind of jealous! Love the touch-screen on the 650. Makes it easy to add notes, look up words in the dictionary, etc. And the screen is very clear (especially compared to the 500).

My brother has a kindle, and I played with it for a while. He loves it, but I still prefer the Sony.

Cue obligatory "read in the bathtub" response. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35829288)

Jesus Christ. Add up all the time ive spent in the tub in my adult life and I couldn't get through a Nancy Drew book. Do adults really spend that much time in bathtubs with paper books?

ebooks in brick-and-mortar bookstores, please. (2)

hendrikboom (1001110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829440)

I like to browse in bookstores with physical books. I haven't found any kind of e-browsing that competes with it. The only thing that's close to it is to download the entire book and page freely.

To avoid overfilling my house with bookshelves, or putting shelves in front of shelves and making them inaccessible, I've decided to use e-books whenever possible (they still don't work well for art books, for example).

When I decide to buy the book I'm browsing as a paper copy, I'd like to buy and download it on the spot. Even sweeter if the brick-and-mortar bookstore would get a cut of the price so I'm not pushing the place I browse out of business,

-- hendrik

The world continues ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35829872)

to get a little meaner every day, and they call it progress. What next, e-lunch and e-beer ?

I really wanted to buy e-books, really I did (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35829882)

but I am not going to pay nine dollars for a paperback I can buy used for two dollars. Worse, the author passed many years ago and gave the rights to his university. So now the e-book version costs as much as the large format paper back versions, the small ones are seven dollars or such.

Where is the value? Out of the the ten or so e-books I tried to buy only one had price parity with paperbacks, the rest were priced over ten dollars a pop and in all cases I am looking at books over ten years old, many twenty.

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