Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Will You Ever Buy Mostly E-Books?

The Bransford household has gone paperless.

Yes, I was recently given a new Sony Reader (more on the Reader next week), which I then gave to my wife, which, after a week of use, converted her to our new paperless overlords. Enthusiastically. We honestly can't imagine going back to paper books, and in fact, I haven't read a paper book since I got my Kindle. Which was a long time ago.

I asked this question a little over a year ago, and given how much has changed since then with the rise of the Kindle and Sony Reader, I thought it would be interesting to ask it again and see where things stand:







182 comments:

RW said...

I've been seriously considering it and saved all my xmas Amazon certificates in anticipation of the new Kindle model. I see lots of upside. The biggest downside is how much of my reading is of books that I get for very cheap or free--from used bookstores, etc. I'm a habitual hunter of book bargains. I'm getting ready to order a new hardcover now of last year's Booker award winner from Amazon, and I can see choosing to get the $9.99 e-version instead. But what about the Booker award winner from 8 years ago that I haven't acquired yet or read yet, and I spot it in the used bookstore for $4? Going paperless seems to cut out those bargains (and the fun of it.)

Ink said...

Well, um, I own a bookstore... so, you know, I deem it unlikely that I will switch to e-books anytime soon. :) Heck, I don't even like cellphones, and now you want me to carry around an even larger electronic gizmo? Electronic gizmos tend to have an unnatural breakage level around me. Part gremlin? Maybe. Either way, me and an e-reader... probably a bad idea.

My best, as always,
Bryan Russell

Dan said...

Nathan,

If you buy an e-book, what do the intellectual property rights look like? Do you and your wife have to buy separate copies of the same e-book, or can you upload one file to both readers?

Josephine Damian said...

Buying ANY form of book e- or paper is pretty much a thing of the past.

It's the library for me, Nathan, large print edition, please!

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Josh said...

We have this argument around my work all the time. It ends with me eventually getting irritated about the Kindle for one specific reason. To quote Alton Brown -- it's a unitasker! I just can't pay $300-400 for something that only holds books and newspapers.

Now everything will change if Apple brings out their tablet touch Ipod later this year. Now I can use something to hold music, tv shows, movies, and books in a size that makes reading comfortable.

It makes me giddy just thinking about it.

Kiersten said...

I can't believe more people aren't just glad LOST is back.

Michael said...

Will I "ever" convert to mostly buying e-books? Probably, because that means sometime between now and when I eventually, in the far off future (hopefully!) die.

Will it be in the next year or three? Almost certainly not. I'm at least going to wait until e-books follow music into no-DRM land.

Nathan Bransford said...

dan-

We'd have to buy separately, but given it's the family business and two e-books equals one hardcover anyway, we don't mind supporting the authors.

Flem said...

As someone who buys traditional books but is open to new formats, I would be intrigued if a publisher made an e-book version free to those who also purchased the paper book. That way we could get a taste for the technology and have a searchable electronic file for re-reading or archiving, but still have the physical artifact around for comfort if that's our thing.

Azzy said...

I had this conversation just yesterday with a patron of mine. I probably will switch to e-books someday, but I will mourn the loss of my hard copy books at the same time. Still I'm aware that the formats are changing and e-readers are becoming more user friendly. Once they're reasonably priced and the DRM stuff has gone away I'll probably convert over, but not till then.

Anonymous said...

How do picture books work on an e-reader? Graphic novels?

7-iron said...

updike passes and the world goes with him.

books are dead.

I am frightened for our future.

Tony said...

When I saw (on Twitter) that Neil Gaiman had won the Newbery, I grabbed my Kindle and downloaded his book. Two minutes later I "opened" The Graveyard Book to Chapter 1. I totally love books, but I'm not going back.

Jill Christine said...

Where are my fellow bathrub readers? Accidentally dropping an $8 paperback in the tub is bad enough; I don't even want to imagine dropping a Kindle.

Nope, I'm sticking to paper books. I'd miss dog-earing the pages and scribbling in the margins -- oh, and tossing the bad ones across the room. Find me an e-reader that'll survive that, and I'll consider switching.

Devon Ellington said...

I like both.

As a reader, I prefer the sensual experience of holding a book in my hand, so unless the Readers can find a way to create that experience, I doubt I'll ever switch completely over.

Also, I love having floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with BOOKS. It makes me feel secure.

I also enjoy browsing in bookstores and handling books before I buy them.

Lily Cate said...

I said, "never", but I'm really more in the "probably, but never exclusively" category.
I love my paper books. I love the huge collection of picture books in my little son's bedroom. I love handing my old books off to friends.
But, I understand the coming change. My mom still mourns the loss of the vinyl LP, with all the freaky albm cover art. I buy much more music now than I ever did when you had to buy the whole stinking album. That's how it goes.
I hope, as novels become more electronic, there is still a place in publishing for graphic novels and picture books. I also love the illustrators.

Josh said...

To answer the graphic novel question -- since I'm a big comic book nerd... I know that there are several applications that are already in existence to "run" comics/graphic novels on ipods and iphones. The apps work more for comics being created specifically for them instead of older material because they are laid out to be read panel by panel, instead of seeing a whole page, but my guess is that it will be only a short time before they port older material over.

And I'm VERY excited for Lost-- you know, being a comic nerd and all.

Rick Daley said...

I don't mind reading blogs and short stories on the computer, but I prefer to read longer works like novels and full magazines on paper.

In my [day-job] industry, several leading periodicals have gone to an online-only format where they simulate the layout of a print magazine, complete with cheesy sound effects and graphics to simulate page turning. I think it's very annoying.

I've never tried a Kindle, but I've read more words than I could count on Blackberries and other PDA's. I use them out of necessity, though. I prefer a PC with an email client to a PDA.

Books are personal. A stocked bookshelf can be an attractive home or office furnishing. Books are durable, great at the beach, or in the bathtub/hot tub, and they are easier and cheaper to replace or repair.

And I am totally stoked that LOST is back. Next up, WEEDS in May!

Nathan Bransford said...

jill-

I'm not a bathtub reader, but you can put an e-reader in a ziplock bag, which is actually safer than a paper book.

Jenn Johansson said...

I find it unfortunate that I couldn't vote for two of the choices. I voted for the Maybe option... but I am also VERY glad that Lost is back :D

JohnO said...

I actually wanted to vote for "probably not," but I did fiddle with a Kindle once. Reading on it wasn't too bad, and I could see the benefit if I traveled a lot and didn't want to lug a bunch of books.

But a Kindle is a poor substitute for magazines (better graphics on paper!), and it's harder to flip through an e-book to check something.

C.D. Reimer said...

I spent a month testing the Sony Reader when the hardware was still the Japanese version. I think that was a year before it was released here. Speed read through 25 books to ensure that they displayed correctly on the screen. Interesting technology.

The hardware price has to drop to under a $100 before I will consider it. I got an iPod touch but haven't check out the ebook scene for that. I'm fine with dead tree edition for now.

Jill Christine said...

A Ziploc, huh? Okay, I'll bag the Kindle to protect it from water, and then maybe I'll add a few layers of bubble wrap in case I drop it or toss it.

Er... Or else I'll just stick to paper until technology forces me to do otherwise, heh.

Eric said...

I'd love both. But so much of my druthers depend on the setting.

I don't want to worry about an expensive electronic device when I decide to leave it in the lounge chair while I jump in the hotel pool, or leave it on the bar during a bathroom break, or on the beach towel....

And that's just one aspect of convenience where the trusty old paperback wins out.

Anonymous said...

Sign me up for e-books.

I am having a harder time switching, but my kids are screaming for Kindles and have lists of e-books they want.


Eva

Bradley Robb said...

The price is still far too high for me. Not just the entry price, but the price to purchase. Publishers shoulder little-to-no overhead when working in digital, but stand to benefit by playing the Long Tail field.

When the book prices drop to something too good to pass up, when the bar to enter and explore is so low that there is near-zero risk for the consumer, then eBooks will explode.

I think the target price needs to be around $2 or $3, and the file should be cross-platform (Kindle, computer, iPhone, my mother's cell) friendly.

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Ugly Deaf Muslim Punk Gurl! said...

my answer: NO!

Madame Lefty said...

My answer hasn't changed much from last year. I have sensitive eyes when it comes to staring at screens, computer and tv not withstanding.

So these book readers would have to pass the eye test, before I even consider it. Though, I would have to say no, for now.

gmb said...

Douglas Adams had it right when he said:

"Books are sharks. There were sharks before dinosaurs and there are sharks now because nothing is better at being a shark than a shark is."

Books are the same. They're solar powered, hard-wearing (how many times can I drop a kindle or a Sony e-reader, I wonder?) and you're never going to have to worry about upgrading them.

The only advantage that I can see for an e-reader or similar is that I can take umpteen books with me when I travel rather than the two or three that I can fit in my hand luggage.

nightsmusic said...

I'm with Jill Christine. Bubble wrap notwithstanding, there's no way any electronic reader would survive a sail across my living room and though I don't do it often, there is that occasional wallbanger I come across. And as tactile a reader as I am, there's no way I want to read a 'book' in a ziplock bag in the tub!

Though I can understand the advantage to eBook readers if one travels a lot, I'll keep my paper books, thanks.

As for Lost, that show 'lost' me two seasons ago and I haven't watched it since. I kept waiting for something to happen and a whole season went by with two people in cages. What's up with that?

Kate said...

I am a long time fan of the audio book, and as a result view literature being dispensed in electronic format a natural and wonderful thing. My biggest question regarding ebooks has to do with distribution. Will bookstores begin to disappear as everyone begins downloading their ebooks off the internet. Spending an afternoon wondering through Powell's is so much more fun than visiting amazon - I would hate to deprive future generations of that joy.

And more importantly, what will happen to libraries. Will people be able to take their kindle or sony reader to the public library and check out the use of an ebook for three weeks - or will literature become available only to those willing/able to pay for it? I believe a good library system is one of the best indicators of the strength of a society. I hope literary technology never strips us of our greatest treasure.

Nathan Bransford said...

I don't have a dog in this fight, but I would like to clarify for those who haven't seen a Sony Reader or Kindle that it's a vastly different experience than reading on a computer or phone. The e-ink display isn't backlit, which means it really does look like ink on paper and doesn't strain the eyes any more than reading a book printed on paper.

Brad said...

I love ebooks! But I still read mostly old-fashion print books. Why? Because I'd like to see ebook prices smooth out and also I'd like to see a standard format (non-DRM) emerge from the wilderness of formats that now exist.

But for me, it's mostly pricing that is the biggest issue. Paying more than $10 for a lot of these books you could buy for less as a paperback makes no sense.

That said, I use my iPhone (1st gen) to read ebooks using eReader from Fictionwise - and I love it!

Kim said...

I was upset when my husband gave me a digital camera because I couldn't imagine not using film and, at the time, the prints looked so pixelated . . . Maybe I'll eventually come to love e-books and wonder why I ever distrusted the concept of reading novels off the screen of a cold machine. But I doubt it.

Annalee said...

I find e-books awesome and convenient. Keyword searches alone make them the best thing ever. Now that there's a way to read them that isn't like staring at a lightbulb, I'm all for it.

However.

I refuse to rent books. That's what libraries are for, and they won't charge you. A book I own is mine to keep and read whenever I want. It's mine to move from one bookshelf to another. It's mine to lend out to a friend. It's mine to give away or sell. I will not purchase a book from anyone who tries to prevent me from doing entirely legal things with it. In other words: Sony can't have my fair use rights. I'm still using them.

nomadshan said...

Ebooks! Love 'em. I read on a Motorola phone (using eReader + Mobipocket platforms) + buy primarily from Fictionwise.com.

Cookbooks are the only paper books I buy.

Emily Ruth said...

I definitely won't be reading on any kind of Ipod or Iphone.. the screen already kills my eyes.
I don't mind e-books, but really, what can beat the fun of bragging about how many hardcovers you have? And the excitement of waiting for a book to show up on your front porch?

If the prices drop considerably, perhaps I'll be more likely to switch over.

Lee Ann said...

My plan is to do half-and-half. I love my paper books, but when I travel I can see the benefit of an electronic reader to hold all of my travel reading.

However, you just can't get the same experience of reading "Little Women" from a reader when a 90-year-old copy is available. The smell of that old paper as you read this old-fashioned story makes the experience richer.

The benefit of the Kindle? All of those POD books tend to be cheaper. I can read my friends' books for a lot less and not feel guilty.

Crimogenic said...

If the price is right, why not! But for books I'm in love with or if I like the cover art, I will definitely buy a hardcopy.

RW said...

Nathan, I'm curious to hear about the implications for agents and their clients. If the traditional publishing deal is X% to the author for hardcover sales and Y% for paperback sales, how are authors being compensated for new books sold digitally? For backlist titles that predate e-books? What perspective are agents taking when negotiating for their clients?

Meredith said...

While in the survey I answered that you'd have to pry my tree-killing books from my cold, dead hands, I'm not really quite so adamant. I have some vision problems that have so far made every ebook I've looked at less than inviting. If the technology becomes much better and less hard on my eyes, I would certainly consider going paperless for books I don't play to clutch to my bosom forever. For travel especially I can think of doing this. One of my friends with a new IPhone has dozens of books on her phone and takes it everywhere.

Mark Terry said...

I know this might be a reflection of my being a freelance writer and spending entirely too much time either in my office or in my head, but I have yet to see a Kindle or a Sony Reader in the wild. Ever.

Nathan Bransford said...

rw-

I can't really discuss terms, but let's just say I spend a whole lot of my time working on it.

Gina Black said...

I'm a happy Kindle reader and I'd be happy with e-books forever except for . . .

books with nice illustrations or art

reference books that I need to flip back and forth a lot

Steve Fuller said...

It's interesting that so many writers seem to fear the new wave of publishing when this new technology will clearly help so many of us get published.

The reason everyone gets rejected these days is because the risk is simply too great for publishers to publish the old-fashioned way (paper books) with a relatively unknown author.

But imagine how many doors open when the cost to publish a book electronically is almost nothing. More stuff gets published because there is very little risk involved. If a book bombs there aren't ten thousand copies sitting in a warehouse somewhere.

Traditional books aren't going anywhere. I think they will almost become like collector's items. Books on a bookshelf will be art instead of functional.

I know authors all want to hold their book in their hands. See it in a bookstore. But man, any technology that helps publishers helps us.

Anonymous said...

The Oceanic 6... Will they get back to the island... What will happen to Kate & Jack? Why is Locke dead? What's going on with Claire & Jack's Dad?... Besides, as an optimetrist I'm convinced that prolonged reading on electronic devices is only going to cause more accompdative/ vision disorders..I don't mind... Perhaps they'll even assign a name for the syndrome... Kindleopia?

Nikki Hootman said...

I welcome ebooks and readers with open arms, but paper books will probably be the majority in our household for years to come. Why?

1) At the moment, e-readers are way too expensive, particularly since I'd have to buy two of them. (Having only one would result in a constant tug-of-war between hubby and me.)

2) We actually like lining our walls with bookshelves.

3) I'm a very, very visual person, which means, for example, that I remember passages by how far they are into the book, whether they are on the left or right page, at the top or bottom, etc. I can't do this with a reader.

4) I want our children to be surrounded by books. I want them to have a visual, tactile experience with reading... I DON'T want them to see reading as simply another electronic device like a gameboy. I want them to know it's an integral part of life, and I don't want them to be able to ignore it.

5) I get very attached to particular copies of books. I had a beloved paperback copy of Lonesome Dove that I loaned out and lost a few of years ago. I bought myself another copy, but recently the battered original was returned. Guess which one I'm keeping?

Anita said...

I think I'll be 50% e-book by 2012. It would be a higher percentage, except for my reliance on the library system.

spyscribbler said...

I will buy my children books, at least until they have a reader with plenty of illustrations, LOL.

But me? You can't get me to read a paper book anymore. There are SO many books out there that I'd LOVE to read, and if one isn't available on the Kindle, it goes down to the bottom of the list. And that list is SO long, I end up reading Kindle only books.

It's just so convenient, having all my books right there, always with me. I will never go back.

spyscribbler said...

Josh--

Do you know the Kindle actually includes a web browser, based on their wireless network? So you can browse the web for free, from wherever you are?

It's a pretty cool feature, if you're looking for something extra. It won't do flash sites, but there are so few of them, anyway.

serenity said...

I said maybe, but I'm REALLY glad Lost is back.

Eric said...

Steve,

You make a very good point.

AMS said...

Nathan good to read you are really a fan of the e-book. I am waiting for a machine which will duplicate all my many thousands of books in e-form so I can enjoy them on the move and be able to enlarge the print a bit. This is beginning to become an issue. How are they getting on with that electronic paper where the whole book can be downloaded and one can read it just as one would a paperback and flick the pages back and forth? I saw a prototype several years ago but not heard more about it.

Jill Corcoran said...

Mostly e-book, no.
But I would definitely buy e-college and high school textbooks for my kids.
For fiction, I'd rather savor the page.

Ann Victor said...

I voted never, but when Kindle eventually arrives on South African soil I will probably buy one just to keep abreast with the industry.

However, I don't even write on my laptop (I write longhand, with a pencil and edit onto the laptop) so I can't ever see myself as a major e-book buyer.

Lady Glamis said...

It's like music downloaded from iTunes. I buy it first there, and if something I'm in love with and want on a shelf, I go buy the hard copy.

Can't wait to get a Kindle!

Jen A said...

I actually just wrote a whole post on this over at my blog - http://corrodentiaweekly.blogspot.com - and I have come down on the side of, "I'm not there yet." I have a lot of issues with giving up my paper copies. On the other hand, I appreciate the space-saving eco-friendliness of it. Anyway. If anyone actually cares about my detailed opinions, check out the blog post referenced above.

Scott said...

I answered 'absolutely' this time, but 'never' the last time. Go figure.

I love the feel of a book in my hand and the pages beneath my fingers. I also love the idea of saving money. I spend a small fortune each year on books. So, with Kindle 2.0 on the horizon, I have - reluctantly - made the decision to go the e-book route . . . for the most part. There are some books I will still buy in hardback . . . basically, continuations of current series on my massive book shelves.

Does that mean I'll quit going to Borders? Heck, no. I normally go to Borders, browse the shelves, and then order from Amazon since it's normally cheaper, especially with free shipping. I'll still go to Borders and then to Amazon to download my much cheaper e-book.

lotusgirl said...

I would love to see one of those Kindles in action, but no one I know has one. I have not been thrilled with what I've got--an eBook. It's a few years old and outdated, but that's part of the problem with e-readers--having to continually up-grade. The per book price is lower, but when you factor in the cost of a new reader every couple of years are you really any better off.

For someone like you probably, but, for the average reader, I don't know.

Lapillus said...

I see e-reading in my future but I haven't been able to make the leap yet. I'm far to sentimental about my paper copies...

Michael Devers said...

Have you ever seen "Time Enough At Last"?

http://www.lonestarmusic.com/time_enough_at_last.jpg

Never!

Marilyn Peake said...

I had to pick D. I love Lost...and I enjoy all book formats: eBooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers. I must admit that I love how easy it is to order eBooks and how much I appreciate all the room they leave on my overcrowded bookshelves.

Right now, I'm reading the graphic novel, Watchmen, named one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 English-language Novels, in paperback format...and - Wow! - the artwork and writing are both spectacular. I've wondered how a graphic novel like that would look in eBook format.

Amy said...

Not willingly.

Mim said...

Honestly, I've been wanting a Kindle for a long, long time. That way my husband wouldn't know that I'm rereading this or that or that I've changed books. But my biggest hang up has been mentioned. I read in the tub--only place I am guaranteed peace and quiet and so I'm very afraid of dropping it in. If it came with some type of waterproof something I'd already have one.

Nathan Bransford said...

Ziploc baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagssss.. Ziploc baaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggsssssss....

other lisa said...

I honestly think I'd like an eReader but would continue to buy paper as well. I have a huge reference library and I would want that to be paper. I have some graphic novels and photo books as well. I could see getting a lot of fiction in an e-version, and I wish I had a reader right now to take on a month-long road trip. I suppose I could have downloaded stuff to my laptop, which I am taking, but for whatever reason that didn't occur to me. Ooops.

Joanne said...

I think it'll be a happy compromise. There's a place for both, as noted here in your comments, and many of the reasons can't really be argued. I'd like to think we can have the best of both worlds and not be limited to one or the other. And it does seem as though the e-reader opens more doors for writers, without the financial risk inherent in hardcover books? Would you agree on that aspect?

nightsmusic said...

Nathan, place the iPod/PDA/eReader/whatever-you-use in a ziplock bag and use it for an hour. It's annoying to say the least and if you don't use the 'right' bag, the glare from the lights rather defeats the purpose...

I'm not trying to be argumentative though I know this sounds like it. I don't know how to make it sound non-offensive though since it's typed and not spoken.

Anonymous said...

Is nothing sacred?...

V said...

I want a fifth choice. "Only if the vendors can assure me I will still be able to access my electronic purchases 20 years from now when the original device dies or the company goes out of business." Until I get that assurance, I'm sticking with paper. Thanks all the same.

Crystal D said...

I hate E-Books, the formatting is terrible and too hard to figure out. I love the feel of turning pages in a book, seeing your progress in the book by way of bookmark, and feeling the joy of finishing a book when you see that a thick chunk of the book is behind you. I prefer audio books for my method of electronic books. But to be honest, if I had never gone blind I probably would have never gone to audio books. When I can get my hands on a braille copy of a book (oh, too many volumes!) I loooove the feel of turning the pages and putting book marks in the page. I have E-books in braille, and it still isn't the same as cracking open a nice big tomb-sized novel to read. It's just a great feeling when you're holding a book in your hand.

So in short; the paperless Gods will have to pry paper books from my cold dead hands!!

reader said...

But, but, but...

I like book covers, dammit!

The pretty colors, and designs, and author photos, and back jacket copy.

Doesn't anyone else need a cover??

Anonymous said...

Are Kindle and Sony Reader going to go the way of VHS and Beta, though? Where one dominates the market and puts the other out of business?

Even if I wanted one (I don't) how do you know which one will still be relevant in a year?

Ink said...

Hey, is it just me or did Nathan go all Gollum on us for a second?

Rick Daley said...

I think Nathan's Kindle is precioussss...

If one fell in my lap, I'd read what was on it, but I'm not going to invest in one yet.

Someone commented about publishers having little to no cost; that's true for the printing, but there are salaries for editors and folks in marketing, not to mention the marketing itself.

I would like to think that the extra margin they gain from not pushing paper goes toward promoting the books, so ultimately they sell more.

Michael said...

I had to answer that I'll never go paperless, because I have the tenancy to stubbornly hold on to principles, and wanting to read a paper book is a matter of principle to me. But I am also glad that Lost is back. I wish I could have put both answers.

Bane of Anubis said...

I really doubt Sony or Amazon tout the Ziploc paradigm :) - but I'm sure Ziploc does (now a 1002 uses)

Maria Schneider said...

Hi Nathan,
I'm all for E-Books. I'm waiting for the next version of the Kindle to be released and then I'm all in.

Since I'm a blogger, I'm already used to doing a lot of my reading online. I think this is an inevitable future for writers and readers.

Rae Lori said...

Muahahaha. Another convert!

Seriously, I love hearing people enjoying ebooks. There's lots of good stuff out there in e-land and lots of it is DRM free, too. The big boys just have to catch on!

I'm a fan of paper and hardcovers (when I can get em at a good price!) as well. I'd love to see package deals like audio, ebook and paper versions available for people who like different formats in the near future. And maybe some extra 'special feature' goodies in upcoming ebooks. There's lots to offer with digital that you can't do in print. Hopefully pubs take advantage of this as the technology gets more sophisticated with Ereaders. Like say a button so people can get that new book smell they love from paperbacks so much! Lol.

Welcome Digital World, Nathan!

Rae L.

Jo-Ann said...

I like ebooks for my own personal reading. But storytime with an ebook... just not as much fun.

Enusan said...

My book purchases consist almost entirely of used and discarded books. As the libraries I work for weed out their collections, or used book sales wind down and books become marked at 25c per, I swoop in and collect my years worth of reading. In contrast, I've purchased 1 new book in 2008 compared to about 40+ used and discarded books.

Until I can find old, obscure, forgotten books on an e-book reader for almost nothing I will not stop picking up books.

Wild Child said...

I still need the physical feeling of turning the page. Plus computer screens can give me a headache if I read them too long. There are advantages about quick searching in electronic media and I like being able to find very old books in databases on-line, easier than finding library copies. But I don't think it would be the same reading Mansfield Park in a Kindle.

ryan field said...

What a good idea.

Zip lock bags.

MzMannerz said...

None of the voting options reflected my thinking. Except being glad that Lost is back. ;)

I can see myself buying the odd e-book if a reader were given to me as a gift and I was... snowbound? ill? otherwise unable to go to the bookstore or too impatient to wait for an Amazon delivery?

I put this in the same category as viewing TV programs (like Lost) online. If I'm at work and need a break, online is great. If I somehow missed the episode's initial airing, online is wonderful. Otherwise I prefer to use a television.

And as for books, I prefer to hold a book in my hands.

Mandajuice said...

I still prefer my fiction to come with smell-o-vision (from the library), but the second I can "rent" an e-book, I'll buy a Kindle.

Anonymous said...

I'll never go back to a date book, answering machine, LPs, CDs, walkman, typewriter or kodak film. Further
I like Botox, Ritalin, enhancements of the silicon variety, tucked tummies, fur coats and vibrators. (No, she didn't ...)
But books? Really? And bookstores?I'm in no rush.
One more thing, Lost is okay, but might I suggest United States of Tara. Brilliant.

Jodith said...

The price is going to have to come down on the readers quite a bit before I buy one, and as a fervent customer of used bookstores, prices for the books will have to be closer to the cost of what I can get used. I don't buy hardbacks (don't like them, they're too heavy and cumbersome and don't fit in my purse easily), so my average book buy at a used bookstore is about $4 per book. With the economy the way it is, I don't see myself going electronic in the near future.

writermomof5 said...

I understand the allure and even the necessity for E-books, but nothing will ever replace the feel of holding a brand new book in your hands, it's weight, the texture of the cover, the pages, the smell and the anticipation of diving in. Electronic books won't be able to replace that, ever.

I work on the computer but if I really want to get the feel of a story, I print it

I'd use a kindle, but if I'm going to read for enjoyment, give me a book.
.

Nathan Bransford said...

Regarding attachment:

My wife has her Reader set just so on her bedstand like it's a precious work of art.

Trust me, you become attached to what you read on because it's what you're touching when you read great books, not because of what it's made of.

adlibby said...

I had the same sort of initial reaction to digital photography -- Give up control in the darkroom?! NO way! But now... you couldn't pry my digital camera away from me. I suppose it will be the same with e-books eventually. I imagine that I will keep a few favorite hardcovers on the shelves to curl up with now and then.

Rick Daley said...

Ziplock bags keep our country safe from terrorism. Really, they do.

No matter how asinine this may sound, I assure you it is completely true:

I was in the Green Bay airport coming back from a business trip when the TSA screener found a 0.5 fl oz bottle of hand sanitizer in my carry-on. She asked if I had a 1-quart ziplock bag, so she could run it through the x-ray machine.

I did not, so she threw my hand sanitizer away.

If it had only been in a ziplock bag, I could have taken it with me.

So if ziplock can keep our airlines safe, it should be OK for a Kindle.

Mary Lindsey said...

Unless it is a friend's book that isn't offered for Kindle, I'm paperless all the way. I LOVE my ereader, and I was a hard sell on not holding my beloved paper.

Mary Lindsey said...

I'm with Josh. Come on, Apple! Get innovative here and make this fun!

other lisa said...

Say, this is OT, but Rick's comment prompts me: they don't seem to be doing the ziplock routine at LAX any more. I've had all my stuff in my toiletries bag for the last five trips and not once have I been asked to bag it.

What's up with that? Does this mean the terrorists have won?

Linnea said...

I doubt I will ever buy mostly e-books. Technology being what it is, I'd be too afraid of losing my books if the reader glitched or died.

Alexa said...

When they came out I was very anti but I've heard such good things about them. My husband is all set to buy the new Kindle as soon as it hits, which probably means I will then want one desperately, as happened with the Iphone! It would certainly solve our bookcase overflow problems.

And thank goodness Lost is back and as strange as ever!

Aspiring Writer said...

I read a lot and can't save every books. I use the library/donate/swap so I won't be one of those newspaper headlines: "man found dead under giant pile of paper."
I will eventually go electronic for much of my reading, but that doesn' t mean I will stop buying "real" books.
And if someone can explain to me why some people on the island pop up after the light flashes (say, John Locke) and others never do (say, the Oceanic Six) I will be exceptionally grateful.

T-Anne said...

Once the price comes down to earth and I see what Apple has to offer I will most likely indulge.

BTW Steve Fuller you brightened up my day.

Nikki Hootman I agree with you on every point!

Ink said...

Nathan-

"Trust me, you become attached to what you read on because it's what you're touching when you read great books, not because of what it's made of."

But won't that gooey "great literature" feeling for the Kindle be counteracted by all those horrendous query letters starting with rhetorical questions? :)

(Um, you don't actually have to answer that, busy man that you are...)

Dara said...

I don't see me buying mostly eBooks anytime soon. I hardly even buy a book nowadays anyway unless I've read it from the library and really loved it or it's by an author I like (I'm going to have to go out and get the new Luxe book by Anna Godbersen that just came out).

A Kindle or Sony Reader may be more of a possibility when they go down in price. It's a little difficult to afford that with basement renovations, a mortgage and school loans to pay off :P

I'm still of the impression that a book shouldn't require a power source. We lost power for eight whole days last September due to a wind storm. But I won't say that it's never a possibility. It may be something worth considering in a few years.

Dara said...

Also, can anyone who ones either of these tell me if you are able to get eBooks from the library on them? I've gotten eBooks that way and sometimes I'll read them on my tablet PC. I haven't been able to figure out if you can use it for that or if you have to buy the books.

Wendy Pinkston Cebula said...

As soon as the new Kindle model comes out, I'm getting one and switching over to mostly e-books. I probably would have had a different answer last year, but I've been convinced.

Elissa M said...

The thing that always snags me about e-books is the "e". Not everyone in the US lives on the power grid, ya know. And not all of us who are hooked in have 100% reliable power. Even batteries need to be charged.

And what happens when the reader has mechanical problems? What, you think they won't wear out? Digital files can be screwed up by so many things.

I've got books that are over 100 years old and I can read them.

Just_Me said...

Only if my choice is e-book or not reading. I hate straining my eyes on a screen. I can't enjoy a kindle in the bubble bath. And I'm not paying $100+ to have an assisted reading device. My eyes work fine!

Michele said...

No, I will not give up my paper books! I have read some books in electronic form, but to me reading is an experience. The way the paper feels in my fingers, the way the different books smell (old vs new, gloss photos vs no illustrations), the weight of a 1000 page epic opposed to a 400 page novel, and like others have said...there is no way to throw a reader across the room when the ending dissapoints! These are things an e-book just can't provide.

mary beth said...

Reading in the bath is all about the feel of the water, the paper in your hand, the sound of the book in your head, and if you're really lucky, the taste of the wine or gin or whisky. The addition of a zip-loc bag might end up feeling prophylactic when you want more direct physical contact with something.

Sarah Jensen said...

I will never give up paper books. Unless they quit printing them, but then again, I have enough in my home to keep me occupied for years.
I wouldn't mind having one of those electronic thingies if someone showed me how to use it. But I'm a hard bound girl. :)

Anonymous said...

Reality Whitehouse has really had my attention, too, as far as reality television shows go.

Anonymous said...

Nathan,

I love my Kindle, but I can't go totally paperless. I love books and the feel of them in my hands way too much. Also, I can actually *peruse* a book faster in hard copy - flipping the pages, etc.

I have a nice library in my home (it's an extra bedroom in my tiny house) and I love the smell and look of that room. In fact, sometimes I go in there and just sit and look at all the lovely books when I need a lift.

There is something to be said for the experience of the book itself - the art of the cover, the typeset, etc. It is an art form in and of itself.

Also, I have something to keep that transcends the eventual obsolesence of any particular e-reader and its software.

So, for me it's a 50-50 deal - some on Kindle and some in "real" books.

J.F.

Eugenia Tibbs said...

I am addicted to reading so... e-books feed the need so much faster than it takes me to find a halfway decent book store or wait until amazon delivers. If I like an e-book well enough I will gladly pay for the paper version. Because I am a recovering pack-rat and I want to stay married, space is an issue. Plus, my three year old is ratting out all my book hiding places to daddy. My husband is going to buy me a kindle, and he didn't even balk at the price. It must be true love.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Re: "Reality Whitehouse has really had my attention, too, as far as reality television shows go."

??

Kristin Laughtin said...

A majority? Maybe. E-only? Probably not. I'm quite torn, actually. While I certainly don't mind reading off a screen and like the idea of paperless books (both for the environment, and because eventually I wouldn't have room to store all the books I want to get), I am still enamored with the tactile sensation and the ability to loan them to friends or give them as gifts (and as a physical object). I expect I'll buy a combo of both in the future, although I do not currently have an e-reader. I'm still interested in how the trend towards digital books will affect brick-and-mortar stores, methods of advertising, etc.

Marilyn Peake said...

Dara,

Here's an article about eBooks becoming available for download from libraries. My understanding is that the book can be downloaded at home for a certain period of time, then - poof! - it disappears on the date it's due back. No need to return books or pay late fees. :)

Josh said...

Just curious how many e-books you would have to buy before you paid for your Kindle?

Anonymous said...

"Also, I have something to keep that transcends the eventual obsolesence of any particular e-reader and its software."

I'm with JF on this. I stopped buying music years ago because the technology kept changing, and I hated having to buy the same songs all over again in different formats.

I have hundred-year-old books in my house that I can still read today: no batteries, no special reading devices required.

Steve Fuller said...

T-Anne,

I am the ray of sunshine peeking out from behind Nathan's storm clouds. :-)

I am sure many of you already know about this, but Google the "Espresso Book Machine." Imagine a world where almost all books are print-on-demand. (Which again, lowers costs for publishers.) Couple this technology with eBooks and things look promising for aspiring authors!

And don't let the economy get you down! In desperate times, people turn to television, movies, and fiction books because they are looking to escape reality. That is why fiction sales went up last year despite the economy tanking.

Publishing contracts for everyone! :-)

Richard Lewis said...

So in the future will there be a used Kindle store, wherein you can browse the cobwebbed aisles and press the buttons to see what titles are in the stacked devices?

A used bookstore is a mysterious and magical place--all those abandoned words thicken the air and thin reality. There's a reason a lot of stories are set amongst used books. So ten years from now, will we be reading a novel titled THE ZEROETH TALE about a technician repairing Kindles who is finds himself drawn into the pixels...

It's not just famous titles available cheaply. There are obscure titles you never would have heard of if you hadn't crimped your way into the depths, head tilted to the side as you examine the spines and spot one that says "God's Secret Formula," written by Herr Plichta, which does not reveal any such thing, but does give you a terrific and entertaining and inadvertent insight into an ego (the author's) that is larger and grander than Valhalla.

Scott said...

I could see buying more books if and when I own a Kindle or Sony Reader––as long as they're priced right. iTunes allows me to pick up an entire record for $10, so that means I buy more. Of course, if my computer goes down, gets stolen or worse I've got nothing to listen to unless I've stored them all somewhere.

So what do you do if you have all your books on a machine and it suddenly disappears? Personally, there will be books I want to have, binding and all, and some that I just want to read. At least the ones I want to have can't disappear in a butterfingers moment, and if one does, it won't cost me $400 to get it back.

So all of those books that I borrow, check out at the library, and/or read at the bookstore over ten cups of coffee, I'll be supporting the author(s) by picking them up on the cheap and reading them through a small screen.

So "mostly" is possible. "Entirely"? Can't see it.

Ally Blue said...

Man, this blog racks up the comments fast! LOL.

Haven't read all 116, but here's my half a cent anyhow. I luuuurve my ebooks. I bet I have upwards of 500 on Admiral Crunchbyte (my MacBook; the boy-child named him; no, I don't know what it means either). I have the Admiral with me all the time anyhow, and with ebooks in PDF I have a wide variety of reading material at my fingertips at all times. This is a good thing, particularly on long plane trips.

Of course, I also have shelves stacked four-deep with Heinlein, Clive Barker, Lovecraft, and other such things at home, so I'm not giving up my dead tree books anytime soon either. How's THAT for wanting it both ways?

Onovello said...

A year ago, I was one of those who would have voted with the cold dead hands, and then a friend gave me a Kindle as a gift.

What happened after I opened the box and got that gadget into my hands was...well, let's just say, it was transformative...even revelatory.

No more lugging around heavy books when I travel, which I do more than I'd like. No more weighing the book against the shoulder damage I'll sustain from carrying the book. No more asking the flight attendants "how long 'til we get there?" when I finish a book mid-flight.

I AM a believer.

I do think e-readers have a long way to go with illustrated material, and art books. And it would be difficult to use an e-reader as a musical score for anything other than study purposes.

But they are remarkably nifty.

Yes, indeedy....

snairdi said...

Two words made me answer "never": "buy" and "mostly". Right now, I read a lot more electronically than I do on paper, but the electronic books are always free. But would I pay for the privilege? Ha.

Deborah Blake Dempsey said...

I am a fan of ebooks. I run around alot and it's easy to have a single eReader (a PDA in my case) with a bunch of books than a bunch of books and a backache. BUT, I love, love, love holding and connecting with a book in my hands. You can't get that same level of comfort and conformity out of an eReader. And yes, I am one of those deplorable people who break the spines. To me that's really getting into a book. Plus, I can comfortably take a book in the bathtub with me.

Deb

Amy said...

It's funny how when it comes to electronic devices, they slowly take over my life.

I am 39 years old and a slow converter. But I answered yes, because after spending the last two years with my Mac Book I can see myself reading electronic books. When the new Kindle comes out I'm buying one for our household. If you would have asked me this question a few years ago I would have said "no way!" I suspect some of the no's will turn to yes'.

Amy said...

I just scanned the comments and ANON 2:34 said something I agree with: I also stopped buying music a few years ago. I just feel so dumb buying CDs because I'm too lazy to download iTunes. Listening to music just became too complicated. BUT, I do listen to it for free on YouTube by pulling up the videos. My feeling is eBooks aren't as complicated for us less technically inclined individuals.

Vancouver Dame said...

I voted 'maybe' to buying mostly e-books, if the technology for reading them improves, and the price of the reader becomes more affordable. My husband and I plan to travel in the near future, and if we both wanted to read at the same time, we would need two of the readers - which makes it pricey.

Screen size, weight of the book reader, and affordability would play a part in the decision to purchase e-book readers. Another problem with e-books - will the selection of books chosen by publishers improve? I don't buy what they consider best sellers. Books by celebrities and reality show contestants make me gag, and add to the glut in the market. To increase the buying public for e-books or any printed books, the quality of the choices must improve as well. Perhaps libraries will find an alternative and make the buying of e-books a non-issue.

britmandelo said...

I would have previously said no, but then I wrote an ebook on contract for a new romance publisher. I kind of like the way it looks and how the format sells. That and I can check how well I'm doing on their bestseller list at any time of the day or night. *g*

M Clement Hall said...

I can see many persons in the publishing industry will find Kindle/Sony readers very convenient, as will those who travel with minimal luggage.
For myself, although I spend a lot of time on a computer, I like the tactile and visual aspects of a well produced book.
Conversely, I dislike the badly bound book with inadequate inner margin and the "cheapos." Perhaps the "throw-away" type book, the "quick read and forget it" are the ones to be replaced.

Lisa Melts Her Penn said...

OMG, that's right -- what would the bookshelves hold if no paper books? Besides random stuff?

Brigid said...

I'd use an e-reader. I just think the price point for both the reader and the books are just too high. With a novel, I can read it, then hand it around to friends and family to enjoy. With electrons, only I can read it, and it's not like I can forward it to people like I could with a PDF file. With iTunes, I can put songs on other people's iPods if I want to. From what I understand of the Kindle, even that isn't a possibility.

Besides which, what's the demographic on book buyers? Mostly women, right? And mostly over 30, right? No offense, ladies -- and I'm a woman over 30, too -- but we're not the same generation as the iPod kids. I just don't see this taking over as rapidly as downloaded music has taken over the music industry.

Anonymous said...

550 votes so far (19.30 EST). And that doesn't include the non-voting window-shoppers.
You've got quite a (well-desrved) following Nate!

Ben-M said...

I figure it's unlikely I'll ever say Never, unlikely I'll ever say Absolutely, and I think it unlikely the technology will ever be more robust and future-proof than a paper book.

So, being unable to assert my reading future, I find it's most likely I'm glad that Lost is back.

Which is funny because I don't watch TV.

Vicky said...

Regarding e-reader devices and travel, keep in mind that once the cabin doors close, you must turn off all electronic devices until the jet reaches cruising altitude. And again when the plane begins its descent for landing. NP unless you're stuck on a runway for a looong time with 40 jets ahead of your aircraft (Think LaGuardia). Also, to Josh regarding a multi-tasker device, keep in mind that for the convenience, your tradeoff is the one device is a potential single point of failure. If you go this route, back-up the device regularly.

Madison said...

For reading, I want paper, not a screen. For publication, I want paper and if it gets published in e-format after, then that's cool. :)

Lynne said...

Books attract dust, which attracts dust mites. Unless you are x-tremely rich and can afford a great housekeeper and glass-covered bookshelves. I can't. So, I will miss throwing books against the wall but I won't miss the dust. And ...more trees will live.

Adam Heine said...

As I write this, there are 242 (out of 563) votes for "never."

I love my paper books. I can loan them out, they feel nice, and I'm apparently a much older man than my age would lead one to believe. I can't imagine moving completely to paperless.

That said, I can't say "never." At one point, I thought I'd never have only CD's. I thought I'd never replace my VHS tapes. I thought I'd never pay for broadband.

Never is too strong a word.

Linda said...

Already reading on my itouch and eagerly waiting for the new kindle (my b'day is in April, hint-hint). But I love paper, too, and as long as I keep finding great deals at yardsales, I'll buy paper. Plus, I intend to keep supporting DEBUT AUTHORS and SMALL PRESSES:
http://leftbrainwrite.blogspot.com/2009/01/hey-you-put-your-money-where-your-mouth.html

I do worry, though, of losing my e-library to a harware malfunction... Peace, Linda

Dimato said...

I read some e-books, but I can't imagine ever buying mostly e-books. Part of the joy of reading for me is holding the book and turning the page to be drawn deeper into the world that is hidden there. I'm very nostalgic about books because as a child it was a way for me to enter into a better place. When I read on my computer it doesn't have the same affect, but it's necessary.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I read a lot with my kids. My book chewing, book tossing, book grabbing, page flipping, extremely tactile kids.....

It's have to be some pretty amazing tech before it could stand up to my 1 year old... and be easy enough to use so that he could read it himself......

I could see going paperless for one-time reads.. especially if there was a way to "check them out" from my library without leaving the house.....

But for books I'm going to read again and again, or books I want to share with the munchkins? No way.

Also, I imagine it would be rather hard to lioan an e-book to a friend..... right now, someone can come over to my house, pluck a book off the shelf, start reading it, and take it home.....

Zee said...

If I traveled more, I'd think the cost was worth it. The other thing that keeps tempting me is being able to download something immediately instead of getting in the car, driving to the bookstore and hoping it's in stock.

I do have to agree with some of the other posters that I'd miss being able to pull a Dorothy Parker book toss.

Maybe they could include that "Special foam-insulated pouch for flinging with great force"

Writer Chick said...

It would be interesting to know the answers by age group.

Newbee said...

Although I see how a physical book is something that I am not ready to see taken from me, I also see the benefit of having a digital copy.

This is my idea...How about selling a digital copy with your book purchase. Kinda like when you buy a CD, you are able to save those songs to your ipod or laptop. I would welcome such a product in the market. Even pay more for the technology. This could be a great idea for a new book on the market. This might be a "free gift" of the digital copy as a selling incentive to get new readers. Just an idea...

Alice said...

I don't even like reading much on my computer screen. Too hard on the eyes. I'll keep the paper, thank you.

Nathan Bransford said...

Reading a Kindle or Reader is not like reading on a computer. It's like reading on paper. Man, Sony and Amazon needs to get some advertising on this.

Heather Wardell said...

I already DO buy mostly ebooks. My to be read pile has 43 ebooks and 13 paper books. I read ebooks on my Palm Treo. I tried one on my laptop and did NOT enjoy it, but reading on the Palm is absolutely no problem.

Interestingly, most of the ebooks I bought at full price, and nearly all of the paper books were from the discount tables at my local bookstore.

I welcome any overlord that makes it easier for me to read while in the line at the grocery store.

Newbee said...

So, I just looked up the "Kiddle" product. I think it's a great idea for people who read hundreds of books a year.

I personally think the average person would find it to be just another electronic device to carry. After carrying a cell, pda, or laptop with you almost everywhere I find it redundant to tote around something else that Amazon comes up with that includes a proprietary code.

For me, I'd rather have a book or digitally compatible file. I don't think I would find it economical. That's just my perspective. I can see how someone like yourself Nathan, would use this more than the average person.

superwench83 said...

I just don't know about the Kindle or Sony Reader yet, not having ever held one in my hands. So I can't say. But you can bet I'm glad Lost is back!!!

Jeff Sypeck said...

As an author whose publisher made his book available for the Kindle as soon as the device hit the market, I'm enthusiastic about the Kindle's capacity to indulge impulse purchasers, I like the higher royalty rate, and I like that it helps authors reach "early adapters." To my delight, I keep hearing from people who might not have bought my book in the first place if not for the Kindle edition.

That said, I doubt I'll buy an e-book reader until it's sophisticated enough to accommodate unconverted PDFs, footnotes and graphics and all. I'm a non-fiction writer; I need to be able to take piles of scholarship on the road with me, and I need to cite real page numbers from the original documents. Also, a month or two ago, I tried to develop a small, independent e-book for the Kindle and found its formatting options woefully inadequate, especially for a book that needed to include notes and precisely formatted poetic stanzas. A more sophisticated Kindle would be a great way to deliver niche books to scholars, scientists, and other specialists; the current model just isn't there yet.

I'm sure the Kindle is a great way to read normally formatted prose, but I'll hold out for a professional-quality device. We're probably a generation or two away from that, but I fully expect that when it does come along, it will transform how (and where!) I write.

Anonymous said...

Even though I currently read both electronic and paper books, my first thought is that it would be hard to give up paper books. Then I thought about what the more environmentally responsible decision ought to be, and maybe I should give up paper.

David Quigg said...

This is 2009. Aren't we supposed to get all our entertainment via virtual-reality goggles strapped permanently to our faces?

When you think about some of the dystopian notions that have been floated over the years, I think the mere fact of this debate is something to celebrate. The underlying premise of the debate is this:People want the written word. That's spectacular.

Ben-M said...

I see that the observation has been made that trees are saved having not printed a book.

It may very well be the case that an e-reader is more environmentally friendly, but I'd love to see the figures include the cost of the e-reader itself, rather than overlooking it as if it had zero-environmental cost.

Can we compare the total environmental costs in producing and maintaining a consumer electronics item with a paper book? There can be tremendous energy consumption, pollution and waste in the mining & refining of metals or production of plastics and other chemicals used in the electronics industry.

Just because we're not feeling guilty about consuming trees or because a device is manufactured overseas in a polluted third world nation from non-renewable resources doesn't mean that the environmental cost isn't there.

Yet a cursory google for 'environmental cost' on the Amazon Kindle will mainly net acclaim at how it doesn't consume trees and ignore the cost of the device, or the waste as the device is made obsolete later.

I'd love to know what the real cost is.

Shirley Horney said...

I've tried it once but I'm still addicted to paper books. My main problem is sometimes I read out of print books or books only available in paperback (independent presses).
E-books for me would be limiting.
Shirley Horney "Fanatic Reader"

Awesome LaTerry said...

I voted maybe, because eventually I'll probably get a kindle or whatever those things are, but it won't be for a while. For me, nothing beats the feeling of holding a giant book like Brisingr or Inkdeath. I like flipping pages, holding a book in my lap, and feeling how many pages are left with my fingers. You can't do that with a kindle. I'll probably get one eventually, just to say that I have one, but I don't think that I'll ever stop buying paper books.

Two Flights Down said...

I voted "maybe." Mostly because I don't have my hands on one so I don't know how well I can read it. People tend to read paper faster than electronics and I have to read fast. The way my husband explained it to me, though, it sounds like the Kindle actually uses some sort of paper, or is just like paper or something like that...and only uses energy while changing the page. ? If that's the case, I could see myself wanting one so that I don't have to carry a ton of heavy books with me everywhere.

Rich said...

I'm receptive to the idea. The upside to an e-reader -

* Save trees
* New titles are cheaper
* Some free content

Versus a *real* book -

* I don't have to recharge my book
* If I lose my book, I lose just one book, not my entire bookshelf
* People in airports don't ask what I'm holding, and how expensive it is
* People generally will not want to steal my book and pawn it for drugs

But like I say, I'm receptive to the idea...Rich

Pawned! -
http://n8ux.wordpress.com

Stephe said...

Dead. Cold. Hands.

There's just something about the printed word on a real page, and a book cover under my fingertips that I can't do without.

If bound books ever winked out of existence, maybe then, as I can't live without reading. But only then.

kris_tea said...

I think I would love to have one for reading newspapers & fiction novels, but I love to research all kinds of topics & like to highlight & write notes in the margin of those books (scandalous, I know). So, for fiction, I think I would like using them but for non-fiction, I think I'll stick to the old standby.

klromo said...

I think eBooks are definitely the future. There are a multitude of choices, and free eBooks are included as well. WWW.Smashwords.com is a great site (the site my novel is on), and they have partnered with Stanza, the software that offers downloads for the iPhone. In addition, there are other sites like www.freeebooks.com. (Just google for eBooks). I realize only a small percentage of books are offered now, but once the world goes paperless, the Publishing Industry will be wondering what hit 'em.

Eric said...

I was given a company-issued Sony e-reader when I started my current job about six months ago, and while I do use it fairly frequently, I haven't stopped reading paper books and don't imagine I will unless the technology changes radically (e.g. they get the e-ink to work on something resembling real book pages). I think I just prefer the feel of pages and the sense of accomplishment of finishing a paper novel.

JLR said...

Even though I can get some free classics online at Project Gutenberg, I still buy my favorites. I like the portability of paperbacks (note, I said paperbacks--I don't like hardbacks). Also, I went on a two and a half day Stephenie Meyer marathon (her last two books of the Twilight saga) when my allergies got bad enough even wearing my glasses bothered me. When my eyes can't stare at a computer, I can usually still read print books.

Besides, I need a break from the computer every once a while. If I ever got an ebook reader, I don't imagine it would be much different--it's still a screen.

Jodi, who voted for option #4. Woot! Lost!

Scott said...

I don't think so. But I'm sure there were once people who swore they would never buy a book made on wunnadem newfangled printing press doohickeys (too impersonal) who eventually had to change their ways because of what was available and because the price became too hard to beat.

Napalm said...

I have trouble imagining a world with less bookshelves. There's a certain comfort in sitting in the room where your books are and seeing all those books on the shelf. It's as if they're guardians of the imagination. And now, those guardians are being asked to hand over their posts to a robot (best term I could come up with to keep with the analogy)? Well, some might be willing to do that, but not me. They'll have to make actual books less available for me to switch to primarily e-books.

Sara Thacker said...

I have already switched to buying only ebooks. If it doesn't come in eformat I won't be reading it.

ryan field said...

"Man, Sony and Amazon needs to get some advertising on this."

So true.

Adaora A. said...

I am a technology baby in almost every way (my music is stored in av tiny pink 8GB ipod), I love my laptop, I enjoy every technology out there with the exclusion of e-books. I can't do it. I love the feel of a book in my hand, I love to turn the pages, and I just can't deal with the idea of reading on a screen. So in case you hadn't guessed, my answer was NEVER.

Liz said...

E-books and paper books each have advantages. I like the feel and experience of paper books, and when I'm reading for pleasure, I'd rather curl up in bed with a paper book. When I'm researching, however, I prefer a book electronically so that I can search for what I need without reading a couple thousand pages of stuff I don't care about. Plus, they take up a lot less space.

peplenwa said...

We'd have to buy separately, but given it's the family business and two e-books equals one hardcover anyway, we don't mind supporting the authors.

See, that's such a rare attitude. "Supporting the authors," "being the family business" and "buying hardbacks" are specific to a very tiny number of people. Twenty bucks for two e-books versus a used paperback for five? I don't think you can build a business model on the assumption that most people would rather pay the twenty.

Steve Fuller said...

I would encourage you guys to go to Amazon and actually read up on the Kindle.

Basically every issue you guys raise is answered there. Here are four of the most common:

1) The screen is not like reading a computer, it is like reading a piece of paper. You have to trust me on this one.

2) Whenever you buy something, Amazon backs it up on their site, so if you lose your Kindle (or it breaks), you still have all your books.

3) The battery lasts for a LONG time and only takes a couple hours to charge.

4) There are options to highlight, take notes, etc. for those who like to interactively read a book.

Anyway, just pointing out that people think of these issues ahead of time. Future versions will only get better. I wouldn't say "never" until you give it a shot.

ciarcullen said...

One of my resolutions this year was to buy only ebooks. So far, I'm good.

Just J for now said...

Besides loving the way books feel and smell, I highlight and write in the margins of books I'm reading. I could never adjust to e-books. I'm a fan of the palpable word.

Ink said...

Tree lovers-

I love trees, too. But trees can be replanted, and paper can be recycled. Kindle plastic, however, will be choking fishes for the next million years. We have to be careful what we wish for...

My best, as always,
Bryan Russell

Dara said...

Marilyn Peake--

Thanks for the article. Actually, I used to work for that company that's mentioned in it (OverDrive). So I knew all about ebooks and audiobooks to d/l from the library years before the Kindle came out. (I used to test all the library sites before they were launched and made live).

I just wondered if it was possible to put said books on the Kindle. I know they auto-return to the library but I didn't know if the Kindle supported it.

Dara said...

Steve--

I will give it a shot when it's not so expensive. :) And if it supports d/l from the library so that the ebooks return after said period of time, then it's more likely. However, if it doesn't support that, I won't be investing in one anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Nathan -
How does the Sony (or the Kindle) perform out of doors? Are the pages at all legible, unlike laptops or cell phones?

Thanks!

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

The pages are more legible in sunlight than in the dark. I'm telling you: like paper. There's no backlighting (see also today's post).

Jess said...

Ooh. I put never, but then went comment reading.

I could definitely see myself using an e-book reader in ADDITION to real books for things like:

- travel! (I lugged 4 novels in my backpack for 2 months... and traded/bought/sold to get more! A Kindle would have been mighty handy)

- "resource books" - such as books that I would want to carry with me all the time but can't due to size (example: books about low fat eating at chain restaurants)

- newspapers (I could entirely do without newspaper! I hate reading the big pages. But read at least one daily anyway)

- portable Wikipedia (apparently one of the Kindle's features!)

.... but yes, my regular fiction reading would happen with books! Especially since nearly all of that is from the library or used bookstore.

Tom Burchfield said...

As freelance editor, I would definitely find reference e-books (dictionaries, style guides, etc.) to be a plus; as far as reading for pleasure and research for my creative work, I still prefer bound packets of paper. Books warm up a room for me.

http://www.redroom.com/blog/thomas-burchfield/take-one-inaugural-call-me-morning

Wesley Allison said...

It's been two and a half months now with my Sony Reader and I'll never go back. The funny thing is, I'm reading a LOT more now than I did before. It's so easy to grab your reader and be instantly back to where you were. What people so often seem to forget is that it's the writing not the paper that makes a book.

sarahjane said...

I guess someone's probably said this, in 170+ comments so far, but the question only applies if you're in a country where you can use such readers: ie. the price is reasonable, not extortionate, and the range of books and ease of download make the use of such readers easy. Where I live? No. First world country, G20, but not an ereader territory.

So what about other, poorer countries? Will this technology make books more expensive for them, as firstworlders who can, switch to Kindles etc, and the volume of print books gets smaller? And if you look at the world revealed by Kiva (http://www.kiva.org) then an e-reader seems like an impossible indulgence (and it's clear how many of the entrepreneurs value education/literacy/opportunity for their children).

Bonnie said...

I expect eventually that I will read mostly ebooks. As my eyes fail, the ability to make print bigger becomes more and more important. When they get to some sort of projection that can expand to fit larger type, so I don't lose page width, then I'll be really set :D

I also like the ability to carry a whole library in a small space.

But the transition isn't going to happen overnight, either. And I suspect there are certain kinds of markup and comment that will always be easier on paper -- the kind of research that requires you to have several pages spread out side by side so you can compare fine points in graphs, for instance.

Jolie said...

Oh, definitely! But I'm waiting for the ebook readers to go through a couple more generations before I buy one. I probably won't be able to afford one until then (these first couple of years after college are not going to involve much disposable income!), and anyway I'd rather wait for all the bugs to be worked out. In the meantime, it's mostly the public library for me, with the occasional carefully considered paper book purchase.

Lynne Connolly said...

Yes, I'm already there. I ran out of space for books about a year ago, so I got an Ebookwise and an Ipaq 4700 and I love them.
I live in the UK, so getting the US authored books is easier in ebook format, I'm an insomniac, so the backlight is, for me, a must, and I have very bad eyesight, so the adjustable fonts are a boon, and I can adjust the font to suit the combination of glasses/no glasses/ varifocals/ reading glasses or whatever is the sight du jour.

Wanderer said...

Absolutely! It's been a little over a year since my last paperback purchase and there's no turning back for me :)

I love that I no longer have to rearrange the bookshelves or the house for that matter looking for more book space. I love that I can carry around loads of books in one little device and have the choice of what to read at my fingertips. In the mood for a romance, there it is. Feel like some mystery, click the next book. How about the latest thriller? All I have to do is click right there in my handy little portable library!

I'm also a fan of audiobooks but that's a whole other post ;)

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