Nathan Bransford, Author


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Choose Your Own E-book Adventure - E-books Don't Catch On

E-book sales remain a small slice of the book market and Nathan looks silly for having devoted a couple of hours of his time to a Choose Your Own Adventure post for something that was never a big deal to begin with. Haha!!! Joke's on him.

THE END


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22 comments:

Melody Maysonet said...

Funny. Makes me want to dig out my Chronicles of Narnia adventure books.

Matilda McCloud said...

I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a kid.

My guess is that e-books will remain a niche market. I hope creative things are done with e-books. For example I'm reading PILLARS OF THE EARTH on my e-reader and I could sure use some pictures of the parts of a cathedral (or maybe the soundtrack of Gregorian chants?). But I believe that printed books will prevail (I hope). I know I'm in the minority here...but...well, since I got to choose my own ending....

Livia said...

Man, the instant death option. Always had to have one of those in every choose your own adventure.

JTShea said...

E-books have already caught on in a big way. Many websites, including blogs, are effectively episodic E-books. Many public domain novels and factual books are available as free E-books. The distinctions between E-pub and PDF and HTML etc. may matter little in the long run.

Mira said...

You're funny. :)

Dawn Maria said...

I think for a while e-books will remain a niche market. While there are many thing I like about them (though I only have a Kindle app for my iPhone) at the end of the day, I don't want technology in my hand, I want a simple book. I think many people feel the same way.

S. K. Figler said...

I feel that technology gets in the way of creativity as much as it helps. I believe it also gets in the way of enjoyment of creative products. (Is there too much ambient light? What key did I accidentally hit? Is my battery running low? Where can I plug the freakin' thing in?)
Technology is bells and whistles and currently "cool" (pun intended). Reading is about you and the words and thoughts they engender. The "technology" by the time you're holding it, is static---ink on paper. Nothing gets in the way of you and the author. For me, that's really and long-term cool!
I think people are going to tire of technological innovation as well as get frustrated with it, because innovation so frequently gets between you and what you want to accomplish, such as just reading a book.
'Nuff said.

Nathan Bransford said...

s.k.-

Back to stone tablets then?

JTShea said...

Stone tablets are for wimps! We should memorize the books and recite them at street corners.

Karen Lange said...

E-books are here to stay, I'm sure. I still prefer a book you can hold, the kind with a real cover. But then, maybe I'm a dinosaur...
Have a great weekend!

Megan said...

I don't think e-books are going to go away, but I also don't think they're going to catch on the way that mp3 players did. For some reason I don't see my mom calling me one day because she can't figure out how to upload books to her Kindle, like she does now whenever she has the tiniest issue with iTunes. For me, e-readers and mp3 players don't represent the same kind of technological advance. My iPod saved me from having to carry a CD case so I didn't have to listen to one album on repeat for 10 hour Saturday track meets in college. For books I never have a need to carry more than one at a time unless I'm on vacation.

limakat said...

not at all, not at all
nothing to be ashamed of no matter which way it goes, twas a brilliant exercise! and i can't wait to have my someday multimedia art/music/prose book with buttons to push to expand the reader's experience! (plus a hard copy on someone's retro shelf, accompanied by its bonus enhanced CD)

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Nathan, thanks for the couple of hours. I liked the way you presented this. Suddenly it all makes more sense. We don't know the answers, but we can speculate in a rational manner.

Ebooks will fall somewhere in between, maybe as high as 20-30%. There will always be people like me and many of you who prefer (demand) a physical book. When there's a demand, and the demand is substantial (think baby boomers over the next 30-40 years - yes we're still alive and reading -
, plus a lot of other influential reading markets)someone(publishers/ bookstores) will supply it. Econ 101

Nicole L Rivera said...

Lol. I love the smell of books, the feel of them in my hand, the shelves lined with books in my apartment. I would love to have a whole room of books one day. I can't picture them all being on an electronic device. I don't like reading on my IPhone or my computer. I want an actual book. Maybe I'm alone in this but that is how I feel.

Joanna said...

I think ebooks will go the way of online offerings in general... I have to agree with the "dinosaurs" Electronic shopping, reading or whatever is never as satisfying as the real thing... Nonetheless, when an item is unavailable at the local shop, internet is a wonderful option.

Sarah said...

So you have just successfully helped me redirect my productivity away from work and into this brilliant blog post for a good 20 minutes. Well done. Very creative and gets a good point across. I'm excited to watch this adventure over the next few years and see whose choices really were correct!

Wingspan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wingspan said...

Of course, e-books are a silly fad that will never grow beyond a niche market. History comes down firmly on that side of this argument. Here, for instance, is a translation of a manuscript I recently found hidden in an old French monastery:

The printing press is a passing craze. What literate person wants to hold a hard lump of printed pages in their hands when they could instead unroll a beautiful hand-lettered, hand-painted parchment? Ugly wads of cheap paper can never hope to compete with lovingly crafted manuscripts that smell nice and have richness and texture. Besides, think of the countless monks in monasteries everywhere who create these beautiful works of art. What would happen to them if this oaf Gutenberg gets away with mass-producing rubbish?

Don't you agree that truer words were never written?

Seriously, taking my tongue from my cheek now, I am amazed that the most common arguments against e-readers seem to be based on the assumption that their screens function like phone or computer screens. No one enjoys reading from those things. That's why e-readers use a different kind of technology that has no flicker or backlight. In addition, they instantly resize type and the content reappears perfectly fitted to the page--no scrolling.

E-reader screens have a look so nearly identical to paper that at first I kept trying to turn the page rather than remembering to use the advance button. Even now that I've gotten the hang of pushing not flipping, I seem to forget that I'm not reading a regular book. My Sony Reader is protected by a book-like cover that even includes a small built-in book light. The overall feel of it in my hands is so much like an ordinary paperback that it took me months to realize that I didn't have hold it with two hands while reading in bed. I finally figured out that with no binding to break, I could fold back the front cover and hold it comfortably in just one hand.

I love real books as much as anyone, but I purchased an e-reader because I have visual impairment. I love that I can instantly resize text and, at least on the Sony, I can easily upload my Word documents and pdf's so that I don't have to struggle reading them on the computer monitor. However, if I didn't have special needs, I would have waited to get one.

In my opinion, here are some of the real downsides to e-readers, at least for now:

Theoretically, I can download e-books from the public library but my local library doesn't have any, and libraries that do have them don't have many, nor do they loan them to non-members. I can't afford to buy every book so I often find myself back using a magnifier to read regular library books.

Even if I could afford to buy e-books, very few of the myriad of books in print are available in that format. Maybe my tastes are unusual, but it seems that every author or book I try to find is not included in the e-stores. If you want to read periodicals with mega-circulations, or read newly-published bestsellers that you don't mind paying almost full price for, then you are in luck. If you might like to subscribe to an e-version of Writer's Digest or reread To Kill a Mockingbird, save your money.

To make it worse, the big names like Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook have competing encryption that make it impossible to buy a book for your Kindle from Barnes & Noble, for your Nook from Amazon, or for any other e-reader from either one. Unless you're the type of person who would buy a DVD player that could only play proprietary DVDs made by its manufacturer, perhaps you'll want to hold off investing in an e-reader until the manufacturers come to their senses about format.

Claudia said...

I'm posting here even though I think they probably will catch on in a big way. But books aren't just about reading...they also perform an important archival function, in your own life, not just for society. At least, in my own life. I blogged about this recently--no way could I keep track of all the things I've thought about and how I've felt at different stages of my life without bookshelves full of actual books to stand in front of! :) That doesn't mean an e-reader wouldn't serve a function in my life, but it would be a shame to have them replace books, which I'm afraid that if they take off "in a big way" they will do. Nathan doesn't think they will, any more than cars have eliminated horses, but of course, few people can afford to have horses anymore, so for all functional purposes, horses have in fact been eliminated...

Diana said...

When my son was a teenager, I discovered something interesting. If I took the same block of text and put it on paper, on a computer screen, and recorded it in an audio file, he would absorb the information best if it was on a computer screen followed by the audiotape. Putting information on a piece of paper was the worst way for him to get information.

For me, the opposite is true. Text on a computer screen is the worst way for me to get information. Listening to a book on tape is a waste of time as my mind will wander off (my son loves books on tape.) But give me information on a piece of paper and I'll absorb it like a sponge.

As I am writing this, it occurred to me that one benefit of ereaders that hasn't been discussed is getting people who are like my son to start reading more.

As for the environmental friendlinesss of ereaders, they aren't. I discussed why I think that on my second blog on this post: http://whisperingseasprite.blogspot.com/2010/11/are-ereaders-environmentally-friendly.html

Gehayi said...

I don't think e-books will ever be anything other than a niche market--mostly because they aren't practical. A friend recently got an e-reader for her birthday. She uploaded a ton of books to it. Now, two months later, the e-reader is broken. She's cut off from a good portion of her library.

Give me good old low-tech books --the ones that don't require power or charge-ups. The ones that work without buttons or batteries, the ones that don't require expenditures of one hundred to three hundred dollars for a special machine without which you can't read the books. The kind where all you have to do is open the book at any point...and it works.

People can like e-books. That's fine. I don't care. But honestly, I can't afford a future that is committed to e-books and lets regular books fall by the wayside because they aren't tech-y enough. And I don't think I'm the only person who can't afford an e-reader, or who would be cut off if most books went the "e-book only" route. A lot of people are broke and just can't afford a luxury item that can break down in two months and take all your books with it.

J. T. Shea said...

What JTShea said! A couple of full stops and he'd be perfect, like me.

Postmodern irony = commenting electronically on my earlier electronic comment on Nathan's electronic post about electronic books?

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