At the beginning of August, the publishing world was a-Twitter over the news that a major publisher had dropped mass market publishing in favour of e-books. Apparently ebooks account for 12% of their sales and that number is expected to increase dramatically.
Let's just see if I, a financial imbecile, understand this correctly. They threw away 88% of their market in order to increase 12%??? Is there a good reason they couldn't do both? How much does it cost to produce an e-book? Why does it cost almost the same to purchase an e-book as it does to buy a paperback?
Then there are the e-book readers. One of my friends loves her Kindle. The convenience of several books contained within the lightweight and portable mechanism is important to her. Most of her traveling is done with a backpack.
Another friend likes her Kindle well enough. She was one of the people who had a book deleted from her device when Amazon chose to no longer do business with an author. While it's true that no one who buys an ebook actually purchases the book, just the right to read it, that practice alone makes me think long and hard about e-readers. Digital rights are not the same as print rights. Borders and Chapters don't come into my home and remove books off my shelf when the author is de-listed. Without my personal information, they don't recommend other books to me either. I don't want my reading habits to be scrutinized by anyone other than myself.
The e-book readers themselves are confusing. They all seem to follow different rules so if you buy an e-book from one place, you might not be able to view it unless you have a specific device. It's like iTunes. It took me awhile to be able to play music I purchased there anywhere other than my laptop. I have since figured out the conversions but why did I have to?
Don't get me wrong. I have several .pdf files of books from authors I like who publish in that format. It seems to be a very creative branch of publishing with a lot of editors willing to take a chance on new authors. I would likely try more new writers that way if I could read them more comfortably.
For now, I'm going to stick with my trusty paperbacks. I like the rustle of the pages being turned, the slight scent of pulp and the heft of the spine. Just to prove I'm not a complete dinosaur, once I find the app for my Blackberry, I'll download it so I can read e-books on that format. It doesn't require a major expenditure on top of the book's purchase price.
Until such time as it becomes more convenient, comfortable and a loss less expensive to convert, I'll remain one of the 88% still reading mass market. What about you? Convince me.
****There is some great information in the comments. Some helpful stuff.
I was able to view my pdf files in my browser window on my phone. That's great for her but won't do me much good on the plane when I need to turn it off so I'll likely take a trusty paperback.
Our library ebook software only supports three readers so that didn't seem like a good source for me to pursue.
My other concern is my propensity to spill things. Paper can be blotted. Electronics get fried.
I really don't understand the price of ebooks. Why aren't they significantly less expensive?
I'm not in one camp or another. I think there's clearly a market, and place, for both. But to bail on 88% of your customers makes no sense to me at all.